• International students attempt world record

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    International military students in the Command and General Staff Officer Course attempted to set the Guinness World Record for the most internationally represented CrossFit workout in one location April 6 at the Harney Sports Complex Annex.
    More than 100 students representing 65 countries participated in the attempt.
    “It’s a bit of a ground-up initiative from the students. There is no existing Guinness World Record for this, so we should be able to set it,” said Maj. Joe O’Donnell, of Canada. “We planned this on the eve of the 70th anniversary of World Health Day, so it’s in line with promoting global health and well-being. Hopefully, people walk away knowing that CrossFit is a good way or at least a good start to fight chronic disease and live longer, fuller lives.”
    O’Donnell said the idea came after a regular physical training session.
    “A new (PT) policy increased the amount of group PT that we had to do as staff groups per week,” he said. “I was discussing with another international student that it would be fun to do PT as an international group. That discussion led to the thought that we’d probably set a world record if we did. From there, we decided to make it happen.”
    Lt. Col. Dominick Schellenberger, of Germany, said he had never done CrossFit before.
    “I try to stay fit doing fitness exercises, but overall so many people from so many nations have never done this before,” he said. “I’m excited to get this done.”
    During the event, 10 teams of eight to nine participants did a 25-minute CrossFit workout that included one minute of pushups, two minutes of kettlebell swings, three minutes of dumbbell snatches, four minutes of air squats, a five-minute calorie row, four minutes of sit-ups, three minutes of an overhead dumbbell press, two minutes of medicine ball ground-to-overhead and one minute of burpees.
    Though the initial goal was to achieve the world record, Schellenberger said he saw two side benefits. First was fitness.
    “Fitness is of utmost importance for us being military leaders from all over the world,” he said. “We need to be fit in order to make good decisions in a challenging environment.”
    And he said another benefit was the social aspect.
    “We as international officers simply want to develop those strong ties to each other so that if we meet each other again in the future on deployments, those relationships (are) established,” Schellenberger said. “It’s only 10 or 11 weeks until we graduate. Everyone disperses again into those nations that we are coming from. We will get to know each other beyond the classroom.”
    Page 2 of 2 - O’Donnell agreed that there was more to the event than just the world record attempt.
    “Even if you take out the Guinness record attempt from this event, coming together to work out as a team, have some friendly competition, have some laughs and push ourselves physically while representing one’s nation was memorable,” he said.
    Maj. Rashedul Alam, Bangladesh, said he has been stationed in places before where he interacted with officers from other countries, but it didn’t compare to his time at the Command and General Staff College and the significance behind the event.
    “You had a couple of small chances to meet them personally, but it’s only one or two days in a year. But here, every day you see your friends from all over the globe and you have a real interaction. That’s pretty amazing. For me, (CGSC) is one of the greatest military cross-cultural exchanges. I don’t think in the future I can have students from (65) countries of the world together,” he said.
    O’Donnell said he was pleased with the turnout of the event.
    “I’m particularly impressed with how it quickly developed into a competition between teams, especially considering how little experience with CrossFit the competitors had and how intense it was. Teams that were thrown together just before the event quickly started strategizing on how to win and were giving their all. It was really incredible,” he said.
    “When I review the footage, aside from the grimaces that come with the struggle of doing hard training, I see people smiling, laughing and giving each other high fives.”
    O’Donnell has prepared the preliminary paperwork to send to Guinness World Records and is putting together a video with evidence of the event to send as well. He said he hopes they will receive certification from Guinness by time CGSOC ends. To view the video, visit the CGSC Facebook page.
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