Interview with “The Engineer” John Coltey, CrossFit Games Rookie

John Coltey, via Instagram @coltey_mane
John Coltey, via Instagram @coltey_mane

John Coltey snuck into the top 5 at the Atlantic Regional as most were focused on those who had been there before – Noah Ohlsen, Ben and Alec Smith and Travis Mayer. Coltey, however, would beat all of them except Ohlsen.

Coltey finished 2nd at the Atlantic Regional, a year after finishing 8th. As you’ll read below, Coltey strained his pec right after the regional events were announced and could not even practice all of them. It did not matter as Coltey looked strong all weekend and will now be competing at the 2018 CrossFit Games next week.

Oh, and did we mention Coltey works a full-time job as an electrical engineer? Brent Fikowski is “The Professor” so it’s natural that Coltey should be “The Engineer”. Let’s make it stick.


The Barbell Spin: When and how did you find CrossFit? Do you remember your first workout?

JC: I found CrossFit in 2012 after seeing the CrossFit Games on TV. I thought it looked fun. So, after a little research, I found a CrossFit gym in town and got started.

I don’t remember what the first workout was that I did, but I remember it had either power snatches or overhead squats and I had to scale way down. I remember how awkward it felt holding the bar with a wide grip. It was definitely a while before I ever finished at the top of the leaderboard in the gym.

TBBS: I saw that Regionals was the first time you attempted Linda. You walked away with an event win. Did you know that was going to be in your wheelhouse?

JC: Yeah, I actually injured my pec a couple days after that event was announced (pec injuries were so 2017, right). I decided to do a little strength cycle of benching since our regional was so far out, and I guess I just jumped into too much heavy volume too soon and strained it. Never had that happen to me while benching in my life… great timing. Because of that, I couldn’t practice a lot of the regional movements leading up to the competition. The Event 2 bench, Event 3 muscle ups, Event 4 burpees, and Event 6 rope climbs all weren’t possible. On the week of regionals, it did heal up enough where I was able to run through Event 3 once, just making sure to not catch the muscle ups in too low of a dip. Events 2, 4, and 6 I did for the first time at regionals, though.

To answer your question though, yes, I knew it was going to be in my wheelhouse if my pec held up. I ran through the workout a couple of times with just the deadlifts and squat cleans in training and was able to keep all of the reps unbroken. The bench press weight was light enough that I figured that adding the bench in would make the workout easier and give my legs a little bit of a rest. On the day of the competition, I used a closer grip for the bench press than usual and just hoped that my pec would hold up. It all turned out good.

TBBS: Last year you finished 8th at the Atlantic Regional. What would you attribute to making the move into a qualifying spot to the Games?

JC: Another year of hammering weaknesses. I felt like the biggest hole in my game was my engine, so a tonnnnn of cardio. (and two people that finished ahead of me last year at regionals didn’t compete this year. That always helps too ha)

TBBS: You are an electrical engineer outside of CrossFit. How much time are you able to devote to training? Have you carved out more time to train for the Games?

JC: On a normal day, I can fit in about an hour and a half of gym time in the morning before work and then 2-2.5 hours after work. I naturally move like hot garbage, so a good chunk of each session is always devoted to warming up and practicing movements, though. Try to catch up on sleep on the weekends.

I stay pretty much maxed out throughout the year on the amount of time that I can train in a day. I do have Mealfit helping me out with my meals now, though, which saves me a few hours of meal prep time on Sundays and gives me more opportunities to get out of the gym and practice things like biking and swimming. Thomas is the man!

TBBS: It looks like you have explosive power based on your regional performances. How comfortable are you on the longer events and/or in water?

JC: I’ve been working on getting better at longer events more than anything. I still don’t feel like I’m where I need to be yet, but we shall see. I’m comfortable going for long amounts of time now at least, as long as it’s not on an Air Runner. Ha

I’m okay in the water. Middle of the pack. Not going to win a swimming event, but not going to drown.

TBBS: At what point during Regional weekend did you realize you were going to qualify for the Games?

JC: When I ran across the line after the last event. Ha. All the scores were super close going into the last event, and I didn’t know how I would do in that event.

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My first time ever on a road bike today. I think I’m hooked! Good timing to get started too as while we were riding @thedavecastro announced that the first event of the @crossfitgames this year will include a road bike. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Can’t lie, I was expecting way more epic crash scenes. Sorry to disappoint. Maybe next time when I have to clip in and out. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🎦: @lbmitchell ‘s helmet ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #crossfit #roadtothegames #crossfitgames #imtryingtobethebestatexercising #paythemane @oakmountainstatepark

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TBBS: What event would you like to see repeated at the Games this year?

Bring back the softball throw!

TBBS: How will you define success at this year’s Games?

JC: If I do my best in every event and have fun, that’s success. I would love to finish top 20 and get in that payout, though! Yaaa

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What a weekend. Thank you to everyone for all the support! Whether it was a call or text, social media comment, getting shirts made with me on them (!!!), driving all the way to ATL to cheer me on, or even a special someone trying to yell at the crossfit games staff for not interviewing me😂, I definitely felt the love. A special thank you to Nick, Ben, and Lindsay for allowing me to access the gym at weird and late hours to train throughout the year. You guys are the best. Thanks Ben ( @thecrossfitpt ™ ) for attempting to keep me healthy and going through every strain and sprain, and having me able to overhead squat a dumbbell by the time regionals were here. #torque Thank you @fitchalkapp for supporting me through regionals!! Proud to be associated with a really great company. #athlete And thank you #lululemonbirmingham for making sure that my outfits were on point. I have a busy year ahead of me with work, night classes for grad school, and P.E. exam this Fall, but I'm going to try my damnedest to get back here next year. #SummerBulk2017 begins now #crossfit #CrossfitGames #AtlanticRegional #putmypistolsup #letmyhairdown

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TBBS: If you were to give someone who just missed out qualifying for the Games this year, what advice would you give them to qualify next year?

JC: Take a look at your regional performance and performance from other recent competitions and see what set you back. Hammer that shit for the next 11 months

TBBS: What do you enjoy to do outside of the gym?

JC: I love to get outdoors. Anything outdoors. I grew up in a small town, so getting out of the city and back into the sticks is always nice.


Coltey only has 3,079 followers on Instagram. Let’s see if we can bump that up some. Follow him @coltey_mane.