The Bigger Picture

Tia Enters a
New Era

Ahead of the 2023 Rogue Invitational, the champ talks mindset switching, her return to CrossFit, and the example she hopes to set for her daughter.


Her name precedes her.

So much so, perhaps, that any introduction is bound to fall short of the truth.

Tia-Clair Toomey is the most decorated and dominant athlete in CrossFit history. She holds six Fittest on Earth titles, a record among women and men. (In retrospect, it’s no surprise that her debut Games appearance earned her the distinctive Rookie of the Year Award, with only two years of experience under her belt.)

Not that she stopped there. The Queensland, Australia native was the country’s top-ranked female weightlifter in 2016. She also qualified for both the 2016 Summer Olympics (in weightlifting) and the 2022 Winter Olympics (in bobsledding).

All before turning 30.

With the exception of this past season—due to her pregnancy with daughter Willow—the last Toomey-less Games was in 2014.

Inevitably, competition calls.

Toomey will take the floor once again for the upcoming Rogue Invitational in Austin, Texas. This weekend marks a mere five-and-a-half months since giving birth. Many have already positioned her return to the sport as a comeback of sorts. To this point, husband and coach Shane Orr observes that nothing has changed.

SO: “[Tia’s] mindset is still the same as it was back in August of 2022...I think that [edge] is always going to be there for [her]. She’s going to be cutthroat with it. She’s going to treat every competition like it’s her last.”

Still, he acknowledges the “substantial” difference between preparing now and preparing pre-baby. While she’s there to win—she is Tia, after all—her purpose is greater than standing on a podium. The goal? Prove and make proud.

TT: “I think I am going to be dialed in [as the weekend approaches], but…there’s a bigger message…I’m also there to show people—the community, my family, my friends—that anything is possible. You can have a baby, and you can still keep doing what you absolutely love.”

Here, Toomey chokes up a little.

TT: “The reason I want [to step] back [on] the competition floor is not only to prove something to myself, but to show Willow firsthand what’s possible. I want to see what I’m truly capable of doing.”

For someone who is universally and undeniably known as the GOAT in her arena, a lot is within reach. Toomey will always be a machine, but right now she’s just one that operates a little differently.

Incredible strength in body balanced with strength in her inner person: Tia with her humanity showing. Her fans identify with their champion, even more.

Her approach to training has become more thoughtful, too. Gym time is supplemented with exercises in body awareness: applying fundamentals, strengthening weaker areas, holding positions. Simplified in nature, Shane explains, but “phenomenal” in quality.

SO: “At the end of the day, this is a big campaign for 2024…We need to find out where Tia’s body is now so that next year we [know] this is what worked and this is what [her] body felt like, and make the adequate changes…Those are the questions I’m going to ask [her] post-Rogue.”

There’s also an inward, more personal component. A lesson in grace.

SO: “We’re tweaking a few things mentally—some of the verbiage we want to use. Like, ‘Hey Tia, we’re still here. You don’t [currently] have that body that was capable of anything. But we’re getting there.’ We just have to build to that point. We’ve had breakthroughs week over week…I would love for her to put a spin on [this weekend], like go in there learning things about herself and develop more from it.”

So far, Toomey has learned the most from her daughter. Chief of all is the understanding that parenthood and professionalism are not mutually exclusive. You don’t have to choose, she says. More than just coexisting in both roles, you can use one to excel in the other.

In the same vein, she doesn’t think it’s fair to ask new mothers why they can’t “just be” mothers.

TT: “In order to be a mom, you have to show [your children] what’s possible. There’s more than just being a mom. Me being a true mom is going back out on the competition floor. Me being a true mom is pushing the boundaries every single day…It doesn’t have to stop in the delivery room.”

It hasn’t, and it won’t.