Why The Former Third Fittest Man On Earth Quit The Open

Oct 25, 2019 by

“I don’t feel that this Open shit show gives me any motivation or enjoy(ment) in my training and career as a professional athlete.”

They’re harsh parting words from Sweden’s Fittest Man five times over Lukas Högberg, but that’s the explanation he gave on Instagram this week, as to why he’s bowing out of the 2020 CrossFit Open. 

Turns out there’s a lot more to it. 

The full story. 

Lukas revealed to the Morning Chalk Up the decision’s been a long time coming and started in the lead up to the 2018 CrossFit Open. 

“I had a really stressful period in my personal life and to top it off I caught a very bad flu just a few weeks before the Open started … basically the worst start ever of my competition season,” he told the Morning Chalk Up. 

18.1 (T2B, rowing, DB Clean and Jerks) wasn’t great for Högberg: “I had a very bad first placement and it really messed with my head,” he said. But he pulled himself together, scraped into Regionals and well, the rest is history. 

“Regionals were great and then of course the Games ended with a podium finish. That was probably the happiest day of my life,” Högberg recalled. 

“I really was looking forward to get some rest after 2018 Games, but then out of the blue, CF announced that they would be changing everything but they really did not tell us shit!”

Högberg admits: “It has been really hard for me not to hold a grudge against CrossFit”

Högberg explained the frustrations of being kept in the dark in preparation for the 2019 season and how the lack of information hindered his preparation. 

“We, the athletes, were not told anything. We were just in limbo waiting for news of the direction that our sport which happens to be our job and livelihood would be taking,” he said. 

“This whole mess with the competition format has really turned my life upside down and I want to get all of that under control. I am putting myself, my life, my mental health and my physical health first,” Högberg explained. 

“This whole mess with the competition format has really turned my life upside down and I want to get all of that under control. I am putting myself, my life, my mental health and my physical health first.”

Over and out. 

  • Högberg’s performance in 20.1, finishing 98th worldwide (9:25), kept him well in contention for a qualifying spot, but 3rd in Sweden behind two times Games Athlete Simon Mäntylä and Victor Ljunhdal. 
  • While the former third Fittest Man on Earth posted a video of himself completing 20.2, CrossFit HQ confirmed to the Morning Chalk Up late Wednesday he didn’t log a score before the deadline, which leaves him placed 54611th in the world and clearly on track for his worst ever finish in the Open. 

Open Fatigue. 

Whether or not they’re “doing it for the Gram” his post gained the support of his fellow Games competitors: “Good on you man! Put yourself first,” Brent Fikowski wrote. 

Pat Vellner also replied “Fight the power!!!” 

Both men, like Högberg, didn’t compete the entire weekend in Madison, but still their “off-season” was barely two months long. 

We’ve also noted several other absences from the 2020 Open Roster – some explained, others not so – including Alex Anderson (who officially announced his retirement this week), Mekenzie Riley, Paul Castillo, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (taking a year off), Carrie Beamer and Danielle Jenny. 

Registrations are also down among the general CrossFit population with many blaming the fatigue of two Opens for the first (and thank god only!) time in a calendar year. 

The Crown of Sweden’s Fittest Man is now up for grabs. 

… for the first time in five years. 

In the meantime, Högberg has made his planned path for the season clear “I will compete in Sanctionals 2020 to earn my place at the CrossFit Games 2020.”

A tough road to the Games. 

Bypassing the five-week competition is the path less traveled, but eight (female) athletes managed to qualify for the 2019 Games, without competing in the Open last February. 

In 2019 having qualified as Sweden’s national champion, Högberg’s only appearance at a sanctioned event was at the Rogue Invitational, where he had to withdraw due to illness while sitting in 8th place.

He’s also limited the events he’ll be eligible to compete at given that 13 of the 28 sanctioned events are now using the five weeks of competition as the qualifier for their events later this season. Another eight events have set aside direct invites for top-performing athletes out of the Open. 

For the record. 

  • Lukas Högberg finished 21st in the Open in 2019 (qualifying as Sweden’s National Champion) 
  • 2020 would have been his 9th CrossFit Open, competing every year since 2012 and never finishing outside the top 500 men worldwide. 
  • He’s competed at the Games five times since 2014 with his top finish 3rd in 2018.

We had a chance to catch up one-on-one with Lukas Högberg earlier this year. You can watch our chat here. 


CrossFit Open

Lukas Högberg



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