Memphian Gus Vandervoort rides incredible journey to CrossFit Games

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 10:54 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - If you take a trip out to CrossFit Reveille in Arlington, you’ll find one of the best athletes in his age group in the world. Even more remarkable is what he had to overcome to get to the top.

Gus Vandervoort’s CrossFit journey almost defies logic.

“About 12 years ago I guess I walked into a CrossFit gym for the very first time and was 50 pounds overweight,” Vandervoort says.

The Memphis native shredded that weight, but the physical obstacles were just beginning.

“A couple of years later, I was doing a workout and had a heart attack,” Vandervoort explains. “I was 52 years old, they put three stents in my heart.”

Once again, he battled through adversity. Vandervoort qualified for the CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin, for the first time in 2017. But then, his heart gave him problems again.

“Then (I) competed the next year, 2018 at the CrossFit Games, actually had a heart attack on the way home,” Vandervoort explains. “Got 10th place at the games, I was 99% blocked in my LAD (left anterior descending artery).

“So, they put another stent in, had a pretty bumpy ride. Gained another 30 pounds, 40 pounds heavier than I am now.”

But you guessed it, Vandervoort persevered again.

He returned to the Games in 2021, and next week, at age 61, Vandervoort will be one of just 10 athletes in the world to compete in the 60-64 age division in Madison.

“To see somebody that can still be so fit headed towards their 60′s is pretty impressive,” says Allison Bruce, owner of CrossFit Reveille. “There’s no question he’s an elite athlete.”

Last year was Vandervoort’s best-ever finish at the games. He stood on the podium in third place and even got a medal to show for it.

However, a scoring dispute from another competitor meant he found out he actually finished fourth after the ceremony was over.

That created his motto for this year’s games:

“Leave no doubt.”

“I dedicated myself this year to becoming the best version of me to then leave no doubt on the podium,” Vandervoort explains.

Vandervoort says he’s as fit as he’s ever been going into the games, but no matter if he stands on the podium in Madison or not, he hopes his influence goes well beyond CrossFit.

“Hopefully I also inspire people that were like me a few years ago: On meds, 40 pounds overweight, just start your journey along people beside you enjoying what you’re doing and embrace that process.”

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