Until three weeks ago Grace Walton had never been to the United States. The 23-year-old Australian has steadily been moving up the leaderboards over the past year and after this weekend at the 2024 TYR Wodapalooza, Grace appears poised to continue to building on that momentum.
At last year’s Torian Pro, host of the Oceania Semifinal, Walton improved eights spots compared to her 2022 finish. However, 5th place meant that she just two places away from qualifying for her first CrossFit Games appearance. While she was happy with the improvement, it hurt that she was so close but fell short.
“It was very bittersweet, I was happy to improve 8 places from 2022, however it hurt knowing a Games spot could have been a possibility,” Grace said. “It also added so much more fuel to my fire.”
With the official 2023 CrossFit season over, Grace set her sights on 2024. In doing so, she decided to join Underdogs Athletics. Her boyfriend, Zane Shellabear-Healey, a great athlete in his own right, was already following Underdogs programming. After watching Zane’s progress over the course of a few months, Grace felt that working with Kiefer Lammi would be the change she needed.
Fast forward a few months of working with Lammi at Underdogs, Grace stood on the podium at the 2023 Down Under Championship. Grace shared, “I think that the 3rd place finish at DUCC justified that I’m on the right track. I know what I need to work on and it can’t all improve at once, however it definitely has built a little more confidence in me.”
Now, a month later, Grace made her first trek to the United States for TYR Wodapalooza. But, first was a two-week stop in Las Vegas to train with Kiefer and the Underdogs crew. “Training in Vegas was amazing. Getting to finally meet my coach Kiefer Lammi was awesome. It was so cool to see how much effort he puts into his athletes and I’m excited to grow more as an athlete with his help,” commented Grace. “It was also great to train with many other athletes with the same goal. Being pushed day in and day out by others really keeps you on the right track and makes the journey so much more fun.”
And while Grace has been on the radar of up and coming athletes (she was on John Young’s Rookie Hill), the 2024 TYR Wodapalooza was a chance to showcase her abilities in front of an American audience. Walton competed in both the individual and team divisions and off the competition floor, Grace was also announced as a R.A.D Global athlete.
Heading into the competition, Grace shared that her goals for the week were to gain competition experience, but also finish inside the top 15. And that’s exactly what happened. Grace showed her prowess in the water with an event win on Wipe Out. And at the end of the five events, Grace finished in 15th place, ahead of several Games athletes including Olivia Kerstetter, Fee Saghafi and fellow Oceania competitor Emily de Rooy.
Grace will now be heading back to Australia to gear up for the 2024 CrossFit Games season with her sights on the CrossFit Games. If the past few months has shown us anything, it’s that Grace Walton will be in contention at the Oceania Semifinal for a qualifying spot to the CrossFit Games.