The sun has set on the 2019 Asia CrossFit Championships. For the past three days, the Luwan Gymnasium has played host to the first ever CrossFit competition in China.
Athletes and teams from 26 different countries flocked to Shanghai, China to compete and after six scored events Brent Fikowski, Kristin Holte and Mayhem Freedom stood tall amongst their peers and were crowned champions, earning an invite to the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games.
Reigning CrossFit Games champions Mayhem Freedom came to Shanghai to win, and winning is all they did. The crew from Cookeville, Tennessee won every single event and blew away a talented team field that included Team Invictus Grown Strong and Project X, two teams they’ll compete against again in Madison.
The performance was an emphatic answer to the question of how new addition to the team Chyna Cho would impact a Mayhem team looking for their 4th CrossFit Games title, but struggled in their initial attempt to earn an invite earlier this year at Wodapalooza. Any signs of adversity were nonexistent this weekend, and Mayhem’s exceptional teamwork, communication, and execution stood out even amongst teams loaded with Games talent like Invictus and Project X.
It seems fitting now that a Mayhem Freedom team accustomed to firsts, like being the first to win 3 Affiliate Cup titles, and the first with 4 podiums at the Games, is now the first team to sweep a sanctioned event.
Only 14 teams will take the competition floor at the CrossFit Games in August, and the Mayhem Freedom crew can officially leave Shanghai knowing that they’ll be one of them.
Brent Fikowski gave a master class on what it means to compete at an elite level this weekend, winning the men’s competition handily and at multiple times throughout the weekend drawing ooo’s and ah’s from the crowd. Even though “The Professor” won four of the six events, the course material also included lessons in pacing, strategy and damage control.
In event one Fikowski – a strong runner – paced the early runs on the air runner slower than his closest competitors on the floor, only to pull away on the heavy sandbag cleans and start the weekend with an event win.
In event 4, when every other athlete in the final heat opted for large or unbroken sets on the rings, Fikowski broke his first set of muscle ups in to triples, and when other athletes hit fatigue, the taller, heavier Fikowski pressed forward to a top 5 finish in an event dominated by smaller athletes.
In event 5, while at the front of his heat, Fikowski showed composure in the face of adversity, shaking off a no-rep on his final handstand walk segment that cost him another potential event win. He calmly jogged back to the start of the segment, finished, and notched another top 5 finish that would essentially seal the deal on his win for the weekend.
An assertive event win in the finale put an exclamation point on Fikowski earning his trip back to the CrossFit Games for a fourth straight season.
Kristin Holte came into the weekend already having a spot to the CrossFit Games in hand, but it certainly didn’t change her approach to competing in Shanghai. Holte won the first four events and never finished lower than third on the way to a commanding win overall.
“My goal was to try and push past my limits physically and mentally,” revealed Holte. “I was able to do that a few times this weekend, but now I know what I need to work on going forward, there’s more work to be done.”
Holte already having a spot locked up from the Open meant the invite would get passed down to the second place finisher and Iceland’s Eik Gylfadottir rose to the occasion. Gylfadottir finished the first four events of the weekend in second, right behind Holte, and finished every day of competition in second.
“Qualifying for the Games this year wasn’t a priority for me,” she revealed during the award ceremony. “I actually had a hiking trip planned in Iceland during the week of the Games, so I might have to make some changes to my travel plans.”
Despite her plans otherwise, Gylfadottir now has earned a spot at the CrossFit Games for a second year in a row and is the fifth Icelandic woman to make the Games this season along with Annie Thorisdottir, Katrin Davidsdottir, Sara Sigmundsdottir, and Thuri Helgadottir.