TUPELO – A strong gymnastics background has allowed a Tupelo teen get off to a fast start in the world of CrossFit Games.

The Games seek to find the world’s fittest athletes through a series of workouts that test abilities to move large amounts of weight over long distances at a fast pace.

Maddie Jasper, a 14-year-old freshman at Lakeview Baptist Academy, has quickly emerged as one of the world’s best CrossFit athletes in her age division.

Workouts are completed at local gyms, then scores are certified and placed online where they’re compared with scores worldwide.

Jasper recently advanced to the regional qualifier level where she placed No. 72 in the world. In the initial round she placed No. 1 in Mississippi, No. 10 in the region and No. 132 in the world. She was the only area athlete to advance to the regional.

“The gymnastics movements are my strength, the heavy lifts. I’m stronger than I am faster,” she said. “My parents and coaches have always stressed to work hard and give 110 percent. That’s what I did during this.”

Even with such concentrated effort Jasper, was surprised by her quick success. Training several hours a week got her inside the top 100. If she places in the top 20 she’ll qualify for the final round, the Fittest Teen in the World competition, which airs on ESPN.

This is Jasper’s goal for 2018. The sense of community she feels in training, a “second family” as she describes it, may help her get there.

“Before the open I hadn’t trained hard. I was just going to classes one or two times a week, not expecting such a good outcome,” she said. “When I start training more hours and training harder, hopefully that will help me get to the games next year.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com Twitter: @parrishalford

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