CrossFit Games

AGOQ Qualifiers Plead Their Case for Games Inclusion

April 22, 2020 by
Credit @_emmagardner_cf
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Last week CrossFit HQ sent a shockwave through the community when in a series of posts they announced that they would indeed crown “The Fittest on Earth” and that they were focusing on moving the 2020 Games to The Ranch in Aromas, CA. While some rejoiced over the announcements, others decried it citing health risks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another group was caught in the middle with more questions than answers as they await their Games fate.

Lost in the translation of those posts were the 160 Age Group Division athletes who are looking for their chance to compete at their sport’s highest level and competition.

Unanswered questions: Director of the Games, Dave Castro has been vague regarding the possibility of there being an actual Age Group competition at this year’s Games. Commenting “you’ll have to wait and see” when asked about the inclusion of the divisions on an Instagram Live session. Some discussions have included the divisions going completely online this year with no live head-to-head competition. The lack of acknowledgment of the type of competition or even if they will get to compete has left many of the athletes in qualifying spots seeking answers.

Taking to social media: Many top athletes in the teen divisions took to Instagram to voice their concerns.

  • Sophia Shaft, who currently sits atop the Age Group Online Qualifier (AGOQ) in the 14-15 division wrote on her Instagram account, “Us teens and masters SHOULD NOT be the second priority, we have put so much blood, sweat and tears into this that we should be able to compete just like the individuals.”
  • Bianca Miller, seventh in the current AGOQ 14-15 girls division standings wrote on Instagram, “for all the athletes in the teen and masters division who have made it to their first or last games, we all just are hoping that we have the opportunity to experience what we have been working so hard towards.”
  • Jadzia Onorati-Phillips, who currently sits in fourth in the AGOQ 14-15 girls division, talked about her sacrifice and the work she put in to reach the Games. She wrote, “I would be absolutely devastated if we couldn’t go to the games because it would feel like the last year of work has been for ‘nothing.’”
  • Emma Gardner has never competed at the Games and at 17 years old this will be her final year as a teen athlete. She currently sits in the final Games qualifying spot in her division in the AGOQ. In her Instagram post she wrote, “I am as much of a games athlete as any Elite athlete that qualified for the games this year is. I worked relentlessly for years to earn a spot to compete at this year’s CrossFit games.”

Masters weigh in: The Morning Chalk Up reached out to a number of Masters athletes regarding their thoughts on their Games future this year and all echoed their teen counterparts.

  • Laura Nielsen made her Games debut in 2018 competing in the 40-44 division before working her way back into a Games qualifying spot this year, sitting in fifth in the AGOQ. In an Instagram post, she discusses her daily grind of working full-time, being a mother, a wife, and a coach while training to reach her goal of returning to the Games. She also wrote that she understands the bigger issue facing the world and stated: “My heart is devastated for our world, and my heart is still hurting to know that something I worked so hard for, may not even happen.”
  • Ryan McCarthy currently sits in sixth in the AGOQ for the 40-44 men’s division and in line to receive his very first Games invitation. He stated, “I have been training for five years, making high sacrifices for this opportunity. I missed last year in 12th place and everything aligned this year.”
  • Michelle Suozzi who is currently in sixth in the AGOQ for the 40-44 women’s division, awaiting her third Games appearance said, “I am continuing to train and prepare myself physically and mentally to compete at the games this year. If it doesn’t happen I will be disappointed but I understand and I will continue to train for the 2021 season!”

What’s next: No official word has been released regarding the Age Group divisions, just speculation. What has been revealed is that the AGOQ is still being finalized after extending the video review process to April 29, the leaderboards will be finalized after the appeals process is concluded on May 11.

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