A doctor told Annie Thorisdottir her career as an athlete might be over after she became a mom.
But Thorisdottir just proved to an arena of screaming fans — and herself — that no one should ever count her out.
Few people were surprised when seven-time CrossFit Games veteran Annie Thorisdottir showed up at this year's Games. She's a two-time Games champion. But 2021 was different. Thorisdottir was returning to the stage for the first time as a new mom, and one who fought every step of the way to be there.
"The goal wasn’t to compete... the goal was to find myself again."
After she gave birth to her daughter, Freyja, in 2020, Thorisdottir didn't know if she would ever compete again.
"I went through a difficult birth and lost a lot of blood," Thorisdottir told TODAY Parents from her home in Iceland. "I came out of the birth quite injured. Going from being as independent and in the shape I’ve been in for all of my life, into that feeling where I didn’t recognize my body and it didn’t feel like me...the goal wasn’t to compete at the (CrossFit) Games. The goal was to find myself again."
After delivery, Thorisdottir's doctor told her she may never again be able to lift anything super heavy.
"She knew I was a professional athlete and she was like, 'You may not gain the strength in your pelvic floor again.' I hate it when doctors say things like that. As human beings, we never look for becoming the same as we were, we look for being better."
Determined, Thorisdottir began physical training, but she battled postpartum depression, a topic she has been vocal about as a first-time mom.
"This should not be this taboo to talk about," she said. "By making it uncomfortable to talk about or women be ashamed, we are giving it so much power."
Justin Bergh, vice president of sports and partnerships for CrossFit, told TODAY Parents that Thorisdottir's return to competition is "almost miraculous."
"For most athletes, just making it to the CrossFit Games is the athletic accomplishment of a lifetime," he told TODAY. "After a difficult delivery in August of 2020 and postpartum challenges, it was extremely unlikely for her to be able to compete at a high level this year. However, she accepted every challenge and never ruled herself out."
Thorisdottir arrived at the 2021 Games in Wisconsin ready to compete. Over the first two days of events, the 31-year-old athlete landed in the top five in only one event.
But that would all change on day three's snatch event.
"The snatch is an incredibly difficult lift, to jump a maximal load off the ground and catch it overhead in one motion," Bergh explained. "It requires so much strength, speed, accuracy and balance that most people take long rests between attempts to be fully recovered."
Thorisdottir missed her first attempt.
"When Annie missed her first attempt, she had only seconds to regroup before the time expired," Bergh said. "But with 10,000 fans in the arena screaming encouragement, she called on her experience over a decade as a professional athlete and was able to hit a lift near her all-time best just at the buzzer."
Thorisdottir's expression says it all.
"I was just insane surprised and so excited that I hit that weight," she shared. "It felt like all my hard work just paid off in that moment. I had specific goals going into the games this year and that topped everything off my list."
She revealed hitting 200 on the snatch wasn't her goal.
"I had a goal to have one event that I could enjoy it, be in the moment and take it all in," Thorisdottir shared. "Hitting 200 and standing it up — it checked all the boxes."
Bergh said Thorisdottir's snatch was just the beginning of her comeback.
"She never gave up on herself, and she made the adjustments needed to succeed in the face of extreme adversity," he said. "After that lift you could see her picking up momentum with each successive event... all the way to a podium finish and one of the greatest comebacks in the history of our sport."