A Wigan mum has qualified as the first woman from the UK to take part in the masters section of the World CrossFit Games in America.
But the honour is bittersweet for Cathy Wilson because her beloved dad Tom Matthews is no longer here to see her success.
Cathy said “My dad always used to say: ‘Just do your best’
“He wanted me to be able to walk away saying: ‘I gave it my all’ whatever the result or outcome.”
Cathy, 45, who grew up in Burscough and now lives in Wrightington says that her dad was very sporty and when she was younger, the two of them did sailing competively and her dad was a runner who ran marathons until he was well into his 50s.
Cathy, who is married to Christian and has four children, got into CrossFit a few years ago and loved talking to her dad about and telling him about her achievements and goals.
CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.
All CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and are the core movements of life.
Cathy, mum to Katie, 14, Lewis, 13, Emma, 10 and Jamie, eight, whose husband Christian runs Kiwi Nurseries in Standish where she works part-time, was introduced to the sport by her husband.
She recalls: “At the time, I was doing some fitness such as Boot Camp and combat and defence. My husband tried out CrossFit and came back telling me how good it was and suggested I give it a try.
“I was a bit reluctant but I went along and I absolutely loved it. It was just totally different from anything I had done before and I love the way CrossFit is so measurable and tangible. When you go to the gym, you do the same things and you don’t really know if you are getting any better.
“You get in your comfort zone and you sit on a machine but you don’t really push yourself.
“But with CrossFit, because it is so measureable, you can keep an account of yourself and see how you are impoving and it is a nice reward to see how much you have come on.”
Cathy, who trains daily enthuses: “CrossFit is mult-disciplinary functional fitness.
“The movements are things you would do in everyday like. A lot of people dismiss it and say they don’t think they are fit enough to do it but you just scale everything and get fitter as you progress.”
Cathy was enjoying her achievements in CrossFit but her life was hit by tragedy when she lost her father last September.
Cathy explains: “My dad was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma quite a few years ago.
“It was dormant until December 2015 and then it flared up and at the beginning of last year, doctors told us it was terminal.
“My dad was 80, which sounds old, but he was the youngest 80-year-old you could ever meet.
“He did not take to his bed until a week before his death. We sat and had a conversation together that week and I was telling him about my goal to get to the CrossFit Games.
“I had this plan for a couple of years and as I turned 45, I knew I would go up to the next age group. I told my dad that this year was going to be my year and he was really encouraging and really wanted me to do it.
“Sadly we lost him before I qualified and the saddest thing about it all was not having him there to tell and to not have him to share my success and achievements.”
Cathy began the process for the CrossFit Games in around February this year and did a workout a week for the CrossFit Open.
After five weeks, the top 200 went forward for what is effectively a semi-final.
Cathy says: “There were just short of 10,000 people in my category and I finished 33rd in the world. As I was in the top 200, this entitled me to take part in the online qualifier. Out of those top 200, the top 20 go through to the final in Madison, Wisconsin, America.
“I finished 14th and will be going to America for the final from August 3 to 6.”
Cathy describes how her elation at her achievement was mingled with feelings of bittersweetness as her dad was no longer there to share her joy.
She says: “My first reaction was sadness because my dad was no longer there for me to tell him the good news.
“But I know my dad would say: ‘You had better still do it’ and that has kept me going and my dad has been my inspiration in keeping me going.
“My husband Christian has been incredibly supportive and my dad would be so proud of him for the way he has kept me going.
“My mum Sheila is absolutely delighted and will be watching the games on television at home.
“Christian and I are going to take our children as we want the whole family to go to what is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
“I am extremely excited but am very nervous too as this is the biggest competition in CrossFit.
“As well as my dad being my inspiration, so many friends and family have helped and supported me and I definitely see this as a team achievement rather than a personal one.