Credit: Ava Kitzi
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A four-year ban, a comeback year with a podium finish at the Games, and a major shoulder injury mark some of Ricky Garard’s most notable moments thus far in his CrossFit career. His latest, taking him out of the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games season, only makes him hungrier for the comeback that should have been.
Australian athlete Garard announced in April that he suffered a shoulder injury during a mountain biking accident that required surgery and would ultimately take him out of the 2023 Games season entirely. Shortly before the incident he’d taken first at the TYR Wodapalooza fitness festival and placed seventh place worldwide in the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Open and 15th at Quarterfinals.
Remind me: Garard, 29, was coming off of a highly impressive 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games appearance where he finished third, after facing a four-year suspension due to a drug testing violation during his rookie year at the 2017 CrossFit Games.
- In reference to mountain biking, Garard said: “I love it. It’s something I’ve done for a long time. And it’s something I’ve always done outside of the gym just to get away from the gym for a day or two and still get some fitness in. Have some fun at the same time.”
- “I definitely regret hitting the jump that I did. I mean, I was probably pushing the boundaries a little bit too far and tried to do stuff that I shouldn’t have been.”
- “Pretty much straight off the accident I could pretty much tell I was in trouble just from the way it felt from the outside and even when I tried to move my shoulder, I was like, ‘This isn’t good’.”
- “But I did everything I could to try and avoid surgery. But it pretty much got to the point where they said if I wanted to get back to being as good as I was in CrossFit then I was going to need surgery. So eight days after the accident I was on the surgery table getting it done.”
Garard has been focused on recovery for the last four months, going through recovery sessions and physical therapy, to restore the use of his shoulder. He shared that he’s back to full training and is at about a 90-95% recovery.
He even tested six out of the 12 Games workouts at his gym to see where he stacked up. Obviously, it isn’t a straightforward analysis, but was a way for him to see where he was in his recovery.
- “Now that I’m here, four months later, it actually feels like it’s gone pretty quick. And I always had people around me and training partners so even when I was in the sling, I was still going to the gym with my training partners and just getting on the bike or just doing some rehab stuff or whatever I could just to keep myself busy.”
- “Instead of just sitting there watching it [the Games] on the screen and then just talking about it and feeling like I’ve got extreme FOMO, the best way for me to deal with it was just to go to the gym, do the workouts and see how my time stacked up, and if it was good or if it was bad, it just made me feel better about it.”
- “It did go really well and the workouts the way they programmed it would have suited me really well. It would have been a great Games for me and a great opportunity to stand on top of the podium, but that wasn’t the case and it is what it is.”
- “I’ve definitely had some adversity to overcome throughout my career and this accident and requiring surgery has been another obstacle for me to overcome.”
- “But the biggest thing that keeps me going and when I wake up every day is just I’ve always had the goal of winning the CrossFit Games and that’s been engraved into my brain for the past five, six years and it’s something I’ve never doubted myself I can achieve and it’s something I’d have never thought about giving up on.”
As we head into the off-season, Garard has some big plans for his return, including the Rogue Invitational, Dubai Fitness Championship, and TYR Wodapalooza. These competitions are all pending his recovery and how things go over the next several weeks and months. First up will be Rogue Invitational qualifying workouts, which are set to begin Friday, August. 25.
When asked what he wants his legacy to be, Garard shared: “Someone that just never gave up and believed in his dreams and tried to project that onto other people and inspire them to do the same with whatever goals and dreams that they have.”