We’re descending on Tianfu “the land of plenty,” as the Pandaland CrossFit Challenge makes its debut on the Sanctionals calendar this season. While the first stop on the ground for athletes (and reporters alike) will be the Chengdu Panda Base, the two days of competition at the Shuangliu Sports Centre will be anything but cute and cuddly.
- On the ground: Morning Chalk Up’s Tommy Marquez, Brittney Kleyn and Justin LoFranco.
- The team will be providing a video recap after day 1, and number and story analysis throughout.
- The plan is to live stream through our YouTube pending a final test on the ground.
The roster: Jacob Heppner already has a qualifying spot unofficially through the Open. With the current roster, there’s definitely a comeback story in the making. Here are a few of the names we’re keeping a close eye on this weekend:
- Lucas Parker
- Khan Porter
- Ben Alderman
- Joshua Al-chamaa
- Adam Davidson
- Alison Scudds
- Harriet Roberts
The team split: Three of the four members from team Project X (13th in 2019) were going to attempt to make a comeback as individuals however Australia’s Jessica Coughlan couldn’t get a Chinese visa in time and won’t be competing.
- Khan Porter has competed at the Games four times as an individual and if his head’s in the Game, he’s likely to claim a spot on the podium.
- The stats barely separated Australia’s Jessica Coughlan and Harriet Roberts from New Zealand. They finished side by side in the worldwide Open and while Jess has competed as an Games individual before, Harriet has spent several years on the cusp of qualifying out of the Pacific Regional. With Jess now absent, Harriet could have a clear path to qualification.
- Another Pacific Regional veteran Yuko Sakayama has already punched her ticket and will make her Games debut as Japan’s National Champion. While she’s one of the smaller athletes in the field, she’s simply impressive to watch for her power to size ratio.
The comeback kid: He’s a familiar face in the field – Lucas Parker – and while he’s edged out of the competitive scene in the past few years, you can’t discredit a veteran with six years Games experience. This could be the perfect reintroduction to individual competition against a less experienced field.
Speaking of strength: Ben Alderman is a long time top 10 regionals competitor who several times just-missed-out. His athlete super power is his strength and regardless of whether the Masters Games athlete threatens qualification, he’s sure to turn some heads in any strength-based event.
Darkhorse: Adam Davidson’s been in this ‘likely’ position before, just two spots away from qualifying at the West regional in 2016. He finished 78th in the Open.
- Likewise with former Demo Team athlete Alison Scudds. 2017 was her closest call yet finishing 7th at the Atlantic regionals.
Team Butchers’ Lab are our pick to take the team spot. The Europeans have years of regionals and Games experience between them.
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