Call him the quiet achiever, Australia’s Matt McLeod – the new kid on the block – left standing with the final 10 men in Madison.
The 26-year-old had been on the cusp of qualifying out of the Pacfic Regionals in 2016, 2017 and 2018, but it wasn’t until he finally punched a ticket to the Games this year – a 7th place finish and two event wins – that’s got to be up there with a rookie’s dream debut.
We don’t mean to gloat, but we’d tipped Matt as a ‘one to watch this season’ and clearly his attempts to “go there and try make a name for myself” were far from an empty threat.
“Probably more surprised than scared people I think,” he laughed.
Upon returning home, he’s straight back into training for 2020 and we caught up with the star rookie in his hometown of Brisbane, Australia.
His event wins.
- Event 4 – Sprint Couplet: “I didn’t think I would win that one. I knew I could just sprint with the sled and do my bar muscle ups unbroken and get back as quickly as I could, but I didn’t think I’d go anywhere near as well as I did,” he said.
- Event 9 – Swim Paddle: After an impressive performance in a similar event at the Dubai CrossFit Championships in 2018, “I was pretty confident I could win that one quite, not easily, but I knew if I just swam, I could get ahead of everyone,” McLeod said.
That photo finish with Tia-Clair Toomey was one for the highlight reel. McLeod claims the pair discussed tactics on the paddle back, but the sprint wasn’t planned: “I said to her, can we just jog to the line?” he laughed.
The top ten.
Quiet. Chilled. That’s how Matt McLeod described the ‘vibe’ in the warm up area as the men’s competition quickly dwindled by Saturday.
“I think the cuts were cool, keeps you on your toes a little bit, especially when you are on the edge of each cut,” he said.
“The way it ended up, the two fittest people on earth still won, so it must have been the right type of programming.”
Being his first time at the Games, the rookie has never experienced anything other than the brutal cutting structure. That being said, McLeod would have liked to see more workouts before the top ten was finalized.
Will he back it up?
But McLeod’s self proclaimed “laid back” attitude has assured, he’s not putting any pressure on his 2020 season.
“Enjoy what I do and see what happens,” he said.
While he will compete in the Open this October, his desired path to return to the Games will likely be through a sanctioned event.
“It would be awesome, don’t get me wrong but if you qualify at a sanctional everyone saw you do it,” he said.
“I’d sort of like to prove myself,” he added.
How this rookie fared.
Matt McLeod is the 10th Games Rookie to take out multiple events on their first trip to the Games – an impressive feat when you look at veterans like Noah Ohlsen – it took him six years to claim just one event title!
Ironically each year, there’s been one (and only one) rookie to win multiple events. In 2017, it was another Australian, Ricky Garard but his results have since been scrapped from the record due to his drug sanction.
The most impressive rookies.
It’s something Tia-Clair Toomey, Matthew Fraser, Pat Vellner, Rich Froning, Sara Sigmundsdottir and Josh Bridges have in common – they all podiumed (second or third place finishes) in their first year at the CrossFit Games.
Brent Fikowski has the most event wins for a rookie with four in 2016.
Despite this, Pat Vellner was awarded ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 2016 taking second place. That crown this year was awarded to Haley Adams, who placed 6th. Along with McLeod, the youngest recruit from Mayhem was also on our ones to watch list in 2019.