Kelly (Baker) Shirley to Sit Out 2024 CrossFit Games Season

You probably know her as Kelly Baker, but she has been Kelly Shirley since she got married to her husband, Zach Shirley, in November 2022. Since 2016, Kelly has qualified for the CrossFit Games three times – twice on a team and once as an individual.

That individual appearance came last year when she made her rookie debut where she finished 21st overall.

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Now, a week before the start of the 2024 CrossFit Games season, Kelly has announced that she will not be competing this season in an effort to “help our chances of getting pregnant.” After trying to start a family for the better part of the past year, Kelly’s doctor recommended taking a step back from competition to reduce the stress on her body.

With that, Kelly followed her heart to become a mother even if it required making the difficult decision to step away from competition…for a bit.

Kelly’s full statement reads:

I am not competing this season.

After many prayers and conversations with my people, I have decided I am going to sit this one out. Emotionally, this was not an easy choice, but at the same time, I am very at peace with my decision. “Just because you are good at something does not mean you have to do it.”

8 months ago my husband and I started trying for a baby. My thoughts were to keep competing until God decided the time was right for us. With that being said, I know how much stress our body goes under competing professionally in this sport- which is the one thing doctors tell me to try to reduce in order to help our chances of getting pregnant. So, it was either I backed off of training and still competed, or I took every measure to get my body ready to be a mom. The choice was obvious. My purpose right now- in my heart- is create the best home for a baby. & all I want is to be a mom.

I also feel I am ready to make space in my life outside of Crossfit. I have dedicated the past 8 years to the sport. What many people may not realize is that there really is no off season. Our sport is so demanding 365 days of the year. I am okay with sitting on the sidelines this year as I start to discover more about myself outside of it.

I would be lying if I said this did not really hurt my heart. I love competing. I love training. I love seeing what I am capable of everyday. It’s easy to step away when things are not going well- and I am stepping back when I am actually at my fittest. Which is why I believe I am making this decision with the right mindset. I was once told that you should make hard choices when you are at your best, that way you don’t question the ‘why’ you are doing it.

I don’t owe an explanation- but man, I have had more love from strangers on the internet the past few years than I ever could have imagined. I am writing this is tears as I just am in awe of what this community and this sport has done for me. I will be scream cheering on all my girls this season.

I am mostly looking forward to giving more of me to other parts of my life that have so willingly took a backseat to me pursuing my dreams, like more time with my husband and family. This is not the end for me, I will be back- promise. Thank you for all the love.

Xoxo Kelly

Kelly’s absence heading into the 2024 CrossFit Games season means that a spot will likely open up in the North America West Semifinal (depending on the D’Hondt calculations). 

When asked if she will participate in the Open and/or Quarterfinals this year (without the intent of qualifying for Semifinals or the Games, Kelly told The Barbell Spin, “My doctor thinks it’s best to decrease my intensity so I’ll be there cheering on my people. I don’t think I’m going to participate.”

Kelly currently sits in 147th in the current CrossFit Games Worldwide Rankings. She was anticipated to jump into the Top 100 following Individual Quarterfinals this year (she didn’t accrue points from Individual Quarterfinals in 2022 when she went team).

As for whether we might see Kelly back on the competition floor in the future, Kelly told us, “I’ll be back.”

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