8 National Champion Races to Watch
It’s crunch time now that week four of the CrossFit Open has come to a close. With only one week and (likely) score submission remaining, there are some heated National Champion races worth keeping an eye on. For some of the larger, competitive countries a missed opportunity to win your country still ends with a spot at the Games, as three, four, or even five athletes from a given country end up in the top 20 worldwide. But for most of the country races listed below, the only path through the Games is a national championship.
It should be noted: The point totals below reflect the totals following week three prior to the announcement of Open workout 20.4, as scores are still pending on the leaderboard and not all submissions are in.
United Kingdom – Men and Women
1. Zack George – 11 points
1. Elliot Simmonds – 11 points
Last year’s U.K. champion Elliot Simmonds is in a dead heat with potential rookie Zack George. Right now George has the tiebreaker over Simmond’s, with two first-place finishes in the U.K. on 20.1 and 20.3, and could pull off an upset over the 2-time CrossFit Games individual qualifier who finished 19th at the 2019 Games.
1. Megan Lovegrove – 16 points
2. Jayne Eadie – 18 points
2. Sapphire Goddard – 18 points
4. Sam Briggs – 19 points
What looked like another runaway win for Sam Briggs quickly turned into a four-horse race following her major penalty assessed in 20.1. Despite that, Briggs has a shot at winning the national championship if she can outduel Lovegrove, Eadie, and Goddard – all three of whom would make their first individual appearance at the Games. If Brigg’s picks up another win in week 4 or 5, she should have the tiebreaker secured if needed.
Denmark – Men and Women
1. Julie Hougard – 9 points
1. Frederikke Frandsen – 9 points
2. Christina Agerbeck – 10 points
This might be one of the most exciting national champion races in any division. Three women, all within one point of each other, and based on the first three weeks of competition there isn’t a clear front runner in terms of trends. Each athlete has finished sixth or better each week of the Open in Denmark, and although Hougard and Agerbeck each have a workout win for a potential tie break, Frandsen and Agerbeck both should feel confident on their improvements from last season when Hougard won the Danish national championship going away.
1. Klaus Hebo Uggerhoj – 8 points
1. Andre Houdet – 8 points
3. Casper Gammelmark – 10 points
A byproduct of 5-time Games qualifier and 2019 Danish champion Frederik Aegidius’ major penalty in 20.1 is that it opens the door for a trio of fellow countrymen to potentially take home the top spot and represent Denmark at the Games. The advantage right now goes to Uggerhoj, who has beaten both Houdet and Gammelmark in each of the last two workouts and is looking to repeat his success from 2015 when he finished first in Denmark. Gammelmark is also the 2-time fittest in Denmark from 2016 and 2017 and is coming off an impressive rookie campaign at the Games in 2019 where he finished 20th overall.
Portugal – Men and Women
1. Jorge Andre Carvalho Correia – 11 points
2. Alexandre Veloso – 12 points
3. Francisco Godinho – 14 points
3. Andre Teresinho – 14 points
Four men sit ahead of 2019 Portugese champion Joao Ferreira and all have a legitimate chance at representing their country at the Games this year. So far there has been a different man at the top after each week of the Open and don’t be surprised if the volatility continues in the remaining two weeks, with each of these four having a finish of 6th or lower. Correia sits at the top as a result of being the most consistent over the past two weeks, with his 5 points combined between 20.2 and 20.3 being the best of the bunch.
1. Ana C. Caldas – 6 points
2. Patricia Dinis – 8 points
2. Sara Pinto – 8 points
Last season Patricia Dinis was the leader through two weeks of the Open before Sara Pinto eventually won the national championship and games spot in the final three weeks. So far it feels like deja vu after Dinis won the first two workouts of this season’s Open, before ceding the top spot in week three to 2018 Games qualifier in the masters 40-44 division Ana Caldas. The pressure is on Dinis and Pinto, as the heavier barbell and increase in skill seem to favor Caldas, who easily won 20.3 and has a 265lb listed clean & jerk.
France – Men
1. Julien Lopez – 9 points
2. Willy Georges – 11 points
Mark this one down in the major upset category because Julien Lopez is currently ahead of the 3-time reigning French national champion and Games athletes Willy Georges. Lopez, who has never finished better than 8th in France in the Open, benefitted from Georges going 13 seconds slower in 20.3 than he did when it was programmed back in 2018. How the leaderboard shakes out in 20.4 should be a huge sign of how things will eventually shake out, because the loading and skill present in week 4 should continue in week 5 as the test aims to sort out the Games-worthy athletes.
Japan – Women
1. Yuko Sakayama – 4 points
2. Akiko Kamitani – 5 points
Yuko Sakayama is Japan’s most accomplished female athlete in the sport, having competed at Regionals six times as an individual, and won the title of fittest in Japa three times. It was a bit of a shock then, when Akiko Kamitani snagged the Japanese national championship in the Open by one point last year along with the Games qualifying spot. The two are once again locked in a heated race – trading 1st and 2nd place finishes in consecutive weeks – and the chance to represent Japan at the Games could once again come down to the final week.
Serbia – Men
1. Luka Dukic
2. Lazar Dukic
If you have to lose the national championship of your country, it helps to at least keep the title in the family. Brothers Luka and Lazar Dukic will have the peace of mind of knowing that there’s a good chance their family will have bragging rights in 2020. Lazar Dukic is the 3-time reigning fittest in Serbia, but a major penalty in 20.1 has given his younger brother Luka the upper hand. It’s still possible Lazar could recover and beat out his younger brother yet again following back to back workout wins the last two weeks. Last year, Lazar Dukic didn’t make the trip out to Madison for the Games, so regardless of who wins, let’s hope Serbia gets a chance to see one of their own on the floor in Madison next year.