CrossFit Games

Age Group Athletes React to Division Cancelations for 2020 Games

May 3, 2020 by
Credit @kelleyjacksonessig
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When CrossFit HQ made the announcement that they would be cancelling the age group divisions at the 2020 CrossFit Games late last Thursday, it sent a wave of emotions through the CrossFit community that has already been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 160 age group athletes, who a day earlier had cause to celebrate after HQ finished the video review process of the Age Group Online Qualifier, saw their season come to an abrupt end.

The Morning Chalk Up reached out to many of the top qualifiers in the age group divisions for their thoughts on the end of their Games season.

  • The range of topics that the athletes discussed was the “lack of communication and professionalism by HQ”, the bigger picture of the pandemic, canceling the Games outright, refund of their Open registration, crowning a fittest in each age group through the AGOQ and even receiving the gear they would have gotten by competing at the Games this season.

Another issue that some raised was that the age group athletes felt slighted by the lack of support or solidarity coming from the elite individual athletes. However, Haley Adams, a three-time Games teen athlete and the 2018 “Fittest 16-17 Year Old Girl”, posted a supportive message on her instagram account.

Here is what some of the age group athletes had to say:

Kelly Friel (two-time 40-44 division Games athlete, second place in 2018 and 2019):

  • “Personally of course I am disappointed. Just like all the other masters and teens athletes that have worked their butt off to earn a spot at the CrossFit Games 2020. This would’ve been my 3rd consecutive year to represent the UK in the masters division, so this did mean a great deal to me.” 
  • “I totally understand why they have cancelled the event due to what’s going on in the world at the moment. Who would’ve thought that a global pandemic was going to happen? I just feel that the way that it was all announced was very poor. They could’ve emailed all the athletes beforehand to let us know rather than us reading it all on social media.”

Paige Powers (two-time Games teen division athlete, third place in 2018 and 2019): 

  • “I think it was the right decision to cancel the teens and masters at the 2020 CrossFit Games. While I’m upset that I won’t be able to compete in my last year in the teen division at the Games, it did not seem logistically possible to have all the teens and masters there along with the individuals and possibly teams.”

Kelley Jackson (two-time Games individual athlete, 2016 Games team athlete, placed second in the AGOQ 35-39 division):

  • “Disappointed? Of course. I was starting to look forward to training hard again. But do I understand? Absolutely! Athletes, you have every right to be disappointed. You trained hard. But…shut your mouth, put your head down, stay focused on your end goal and be respectful of the world around you. No disrespect but there are far more important things going on. And if you can’t see that, shame on you.”

Bianca Miller (the 14-year old placed ninth in the 2020 AGOQ): 

  • “Teens and masters have adapted to all the changes made by CrossFit HQ. Top 20 athletes get cut to 10 in 2019. Fine. Live coverage will no longer be present at the Games. Fine. Now in 2020, no CrossFit Games. It is not fine. It’s disappointing to know that we, who have sacrificed, who have worked harder than ever before, who have embedded this goal into our lives, are the underdogs.”

Tony Kurz (2019 Games athlete in the 40-44 division, placed fourth in the 2020 AGOQ): 

  • “I understand why HQ made the decision they did. With all the people affected by the epidemic, the fate of CrossFit age groups should take a back seat. I was personally hoping to see some form of an online competition for age groups. I think masters athletes have a little more tolerance for the imperfections inherent in something like that. And I know I’d be willing to do that even if no prize money was offered.”
  • “We just want to compete. I would like to see CrossFit actually crown the podium finishers of the AGOQ, again, even without the prize money. At least it lets us walk away with a conclusion to the season. #gamesgearforagegroups”

Joyanne Cooper (four-time Games masters division athlete, placed second in the 2020 AGOQ): 

  • “Initially I was disappointed by the news that the 2020 CrossFit Games were cancelled for the age groups. I took an extra rest day, drank some red wine and ate half a pizza. The very next morning I was back in my gym and had a great training session. I actually would have been more surprised if there was an in-person competition this year for the age groups, and an on-line event would have felt redundant to the qualifier in March.”
  • “So it just makes sense to me to cancel this year completely. I feel so badly for those athletes who qualified for their FIRST CrossFit Games this year. The announcement to cancel this year’s event must be the most heart-wrenching for them. The Games is the ultimate competition experience; it’s what drives us to keep training all year long, and an opportunity to meet amazing athletes, volunteers, make new friends and compete with the best.”
  • “It’s SO worth the years of hard work and sacrifice. So my message to everyone out there is to keep training hard, hang on to that dream – it will happen, just not this year. Fortunately for me, I love training more than competing. I am thankful for my health, my home gym, and my coaches that provide me the opportunity to do what I love to do, 5-6 days a week, 2 hours a day. It’s my ‘me’ time. The Games may be cancelled, but I still get to train.”

Emma Cary (2019 “Fittest 14-15 Year Old Girl”, placed first in the 2020 AGOQ for the 16-17 year old division): 

  • “I love to compete, and I was feeling more prepared than ever three months out from the 2020 CrossFit Games. While I’m sad that I will not get to compete again this year, I am so excited for the opportunity to train solely for the 2021 Open and Sanctional season!”
  • “I have set a goal for myself to qualify for the 2021 CrossFit Games as an individual, and this situation will allow me to prepare to the best of my ability. This isn’t what I wanted to happen, but I am grateful for the opportunity that it’s given me. I am healthy, I am hungry, and I am ready to make a big push these next months!”
  • “The past years of hard work are not wasted, because I am continuing to build. At the end of the day, I know that I don’t control anything but my effort and my attitude. I have decided that I will be better because of this!”

Laura Nielsen (2018 Games athlete in the 40-44 division, placed fifth in the 2020 AGOQ):

  • “The CrossFit games is such an indescribable experience, and I really wanted that experience again. I worked hard for it, and it is very difficult to make the top 10 in the world!! I’m very proud of my progress that I made this year and I can’t wait to see how much better I can do! It’s basically unheard of to still be able to compete at the highest level with women from around the globe my that in itself is such a blessing that I am so thankful for.”
  • “With the pandemic that is going on and the amount of suffering going on in the world right now it is understandable why the cancelation. It was sad that we had to find out via social media though. I grieved what could’ve been if things were normal…but it’s time to reset my mind and plan with my coach and use this disappointment the same way I have used previous disappointments from my past. Time to close the door on CFG 2020 and open new doors, new opportunities and more growth. It’s time to get fired up for what is next!”

Tudor Magda (2018 “Fittest 14-15 Year Old Boy”, three-time Games teen division athlete):

  • “I was disappointed about the news at first, and rightly so, since I was looking forward to the Games since the fall of last year. But this reaction has shifted to understanding as to why the decision had to be made. Would I have liked to compete for a second “Fittest Teen on Earth” title? Yes. Does this affect my future athletic career? Not in the slightest. I am still just as motivated to keep training and begin my next step in my competitive journey starting with the Open in October.”
  • “This situation is tough, but I believe that all my fellow athletes are tougher. We train each day in preparation for the “unknown and unknowable.” Perhaps we are being tested in that matter right now. The world is in panic mode right now, and the future is uncertain. But I know that us Games athletes will adapt and overcome, like we always strive to do.”
  • “I would say that I understand why this decision had to be made. I believe it is better to announce the cancelation early than to have it come as a surprise to us closer to August. I’m interested to see how individual athletes will be tested this summer and I am rooting for Dave (Castro) to pull it off somehow.”

Michelle Suozzi (two-time Games masters division athlete, tied for sixth in the 2020 AGOQ in the 40-44 division): 

  • “I’m really sad by the announcement of canceling age groups. It was even harder to hear about it on someone’s Instagram story versus receiving formal communication prior.”
  • “While I’m disappointed at the news I also completely understand. The global pandemic has affected many people with death, severe illness and huge financial setbacks. Which puts things into perspective. I’m sure it was a difficult decision for CrossFit to make. My plan is to just keep training, staying mentally focused and physically prepared for 2021!”

Cindy Hinkle (tied for seventh in the 2020 AGOQ in the 50-54 division): 

  • “Well, I’m very disappointed. After 5 years of trying and coming close, I finally made the Games this year. So I’m heartbroken. But understand.”

Ryan Elrod (first in the 2020 AGOQ in the 35-39 division): 

  • “I’m disappointed. I understand, and kinda expected it… but can’t hide that I’m disappointed. I’ll try again next year. I’m proud of myself for this year, just disappointed it ended short.”

Sophia Shaft (2019 Games athlete in the 14-15 division, placed ninth in the 2020 AGOQ): 

  • “So I’m really, really disappointed in the CrossFit Games staff for not emailing us first. It was super disappointing to wake up and see it on Instagram. I feel like they could have done something, if it is Dave’s property then he could easily just do separate weekends for the age group athletes. I’m using this time which would normally start Games prep to transition into the 16-17 age group. So my training will probably look a lot different for me and my weights will be heavier now that I’m technically with the big girls now.

Scott Tasaka (three-time Games masters division athlete, placed seventh in the 2020 AGOQ in the 50-54 division): 

  • “Honestly I’m not at all surprised at the cancelation of the games. Just didn’t see how they could make it work this year and I prefer the full cancellation over trying to move it online. Disappointed with the timing of the announcement though, being immediately after they announced the Games qualifiers. Selfishly, I do think they could have carried over the qualifiers to next year’s Games and maybe results as a transition to get back to 20-per age group again. Something positive to come out of this lost season.”

Cole Martinez (two-time Games teen division athlete, placed fourth in the 2020 AGOQ in the 16-17 division):

  • “First, I’d like to say that these Age Group athletes should not have found out the way they did. Finding out their season was ending abruptly on social media exactly one day after they were contacted via email about their video submissions was not cool and disrespectful towards the athletes.”
  • “Second, everyone knows that the Games will ultimately be completely canceled anyway. Why do it in stages? This will just further shine the light on the stigma that HQ doesn’t care about age groups as much as other divisions. After all, we are all Games athletes (Individuals, Masters, Teens and Teams).”
  • “If the Games are canceled for some people because they aren’t as ‘important’ it’s essentially like saying the NFL should play a season without the Browns, Bengals, Dolphins, and Giants because they don’t matter as much as the Patriots, Chiefs, Saints, and Ravens. Like it or not. They are all NFL teams and they should all be afforded the right to play their season or it should be canceled for all.”

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