#1 What Makes Björgvin Karl Gudmundsson Great
I first met Björgvin in November of 2012. I went to Iceland to coach weightlifting at CrossFit Reykjavik and came just in time to watch the Icelandic CrossFit Championships where Björgvin came second after little more than six months of training crossfit. It was clear to everyone that he was the next big thing. The following week he attended one of my classes and I immediately recognized his talent. I invited him back the following week for a private session. He did so well that I refused to take his money and I instead decided to do everything in my power from that point on to turn him into a weightlifter, to build up his barbell game and to see him become the champion of the world. I am immensely proud of having worked so closely with him and learned so much from him and with him. In my eyes he is the perfect athlete and student and I hold him up as the role model for all athletes that I work with.
In this blog post I want to share what I consider his greatest strength as an athlete and the key to his incredible progress. I remember clearly what stood out to me in that very first session. Focus; intense concentration on the task at hand and an exeptional attention to technical detail. You could really sense the strength of his mind.
Björgvin qualified for the CrossFit Games in 2014 for the very first time coming third out of Europe (as it was called back then; it’s now the Meridian Regionals). Jonne Koski won in dominating fashion and Lukas Högberg made his epic comeback after fucking up the handstand walk. It was pure gold when he was asked in an interview immidiately after the event what his plan for the rest of the competition was and he replied “I just need to fucking bring it”.
Jonne, coming 32nd, had a disappointing performance at the Games suffering from a knee injury and completely tearing his hands early in the competition. In the end Lukas edged out Björgvin with a few spots coming 23rd and 26th respectively. Fastforward to the recently concluded Meridian Regionals 2017 and Björgvin beat Jonne with a solid margin and destroyed Lukas who didn’t manage to qualify for the first time since 2013. If we make what I consider the reasonable assumption that Björgvin, Jonne and Lukas were more or less at the same level in 2014 when they first qualified for the Games how do we explain the significant difference in level that they are at now? I don’t think it can be explained due to difference in genetics/inherent physical talent. All three are exceptionally gifted and if anything Jonne takes the prize. No the key is that ever since I met Björgvin 4,5 years ago he has managed to avoid any serious injuries, accidents, overtraining or allowing personal problems to influence his training negatively despite training incredibly hard. Think about that. We are talking about an athlete training at least twice a day 5-6 days a week who never had to take a week or month off due to injury; who never got carried away and overtrained so that he had to take a step back and recover for a few weeks; who never got seriously sick; who never skipped training for the couch; who never allowed girlfriends, friends, parties, weddings, funerals, bad weather, good weather or anything else to get in the way of the training that he knew that he needed to do. This is due to Björgvins inexhaustable dedication and drive to become the best in the world combined with an incredible understanding of how his body works and what he needs to do to get the most out of each training session without ever crossing the border into recklessness. If you make sure that every day is a step in the right direction it will add up to something amazing over time. We all know this but can you truthfully say that you have stuck to it every day over the last five years? Do you know anyone that has? I know a few but the master of this is Björgvin and I think it explains a lot.