The Uninvited: Games Athletes, National Champions React to Losing Their Invites
When CrossFit HQ made the announcement on Saturday afternoon that they were “resetting” the 2020 CrossFit Games individual competition and taking back the Games invitations of over 250 athletes, emotions washed over the community in the aftermath of these latest changes forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the group of athletes that had their Games invites rescinded were the 243 national champions crowned through the worldwide Open. Instead the only athletes who will receive the new invitations are those who finished inside the top-20 in the Open and athletes who qualified through one of the ten in-person Sanctional events prior to the pandemic.
Like the Games Age Group division athletes who had their season come to an end a week ago, the “uninvited” athletes took to social media to express their emotions which ranged from disappointment, understanding, and gratitude.
Here is what some of those athletes had to say:
Zack George (United Kingdom National Champion, 26th in the Open)
- “People around the globe are being universally affected by the virus and the main thing I am concerned about is people staying healthy and safe.”
- “Obviously, I am hugely disappointed to have worked as hard as I have to get to the Games and not be able to attend. I wanted to compete and thrive off the amazing support I have received from everyone who has been on this long journey with me.”
Willy Georges (Two-time France National Champion, two-time Games athlete)
- “After a serious injury at the beginning of the year, a postponed wedding, now it’s the CrossFit Games that are escaping. I’m obviously sad and disappointed, because it represents a lot of sacrifices and hours of training, and also because I was eager to prove my fitness during the Games, because it’s the biggest test of fitness. I think I’m in the best shape of my life, and I wanted to show it…”
- “But you also have to put it in perspective, and with what the world is going through right now, I think there is much more important things. People are losing a lot more right now with the Covid-19, and for those people, I can’t consider myself unlucky, or complaining. We have no right to complain. I’m safe, and my family too, this is the most important to me.”
- “Yes I will regret for a moment this 3rd Open workout which costs me top-20 worldwide. But I can only take it out on myself and I’m the only responsible for my situation. I don’t blame anyone, and I have no excuses. I’m just going to regret for a while, and those regrets are going to serve me. I had, and I always want to work harder than anyone, because I know something good is waiting for me.”
Brenda Castro (Two-time Mexico National Champion, two-time Games athlete)
- “I always say that we should only worry about the things we can control, that there will be outside factors we cannot control and this pandemic is one of them. You have to accept it and move on.”
- “I can not deny that this is something that saddens me very much, but I am in favor of the priority being our safety and health. So I will not question the decision.”
Emma Chapman (29th in the Open, her invitation would have meant her first individual Games appearance)
- “The recent announcement from CrossFit Games honestly didn’t surprise me much but still left me feeling disappointed. Receiving an invite and then having it taken away is a kick in the teeth.”
- “A lot can happen from now until the Games takes place, so I’m going to continue training as if I’ll be attending the Games. No matter what, I’m still extremely proud to have originally qualified for the 2020 Games this year as an individual through the Open.”
Klaus Uggerhoj (Denmark National Champion, 38th in the Open, his invite would have been his first career Games appearance)
- “Of course I wish the Games would instead have postponed the event, as it has been done with most of the other major sporting events around the world – but sometimes life is unfair. I’ve worked pretty hard for this goal and sacrificed a lot to win that Games ticket. I’m sure all the other national champions around the world have, too. I can only imagine that they’re just as devastated as I am right now. It was a big dream of mine to represent Denmark and compete on the big stage! However, instead of feeling (more) sorry for myself I’d rather look back at this season and be proud of my achievement of becoming the national champion and proving my place among the elite.”
Jason Smith (South Africa national champion, two-time Games athlete)
- “With what’s going on around the world it was inevitable that I was going to receive the news that this year’s Games wasn’t going to happen for me, but to officially receive the email. I feel heartsore I won’t be able to represent South Africa and showcase what was possibly going to be my final year as an individual competitor.”
Feeroozeh Saghafi (Originally qualified through Mayhem Classic, 79th in the Open, 2019 Games athlete)
- “To get your bid taken away stings, to not get your championship game opportunity, your rookie year, your first Olympic debut, or your final Olympic year, your gold/silver/bronze medals, your opportunity to set records… it all stings BUT at the end of the day the world continues to spin, the training doesn’t stop, the passion doesn’t die, and the goal doesn’t change- just some added pages to your chapter is all. Keep writing. Head up, eyes forward.”
Carolyne Prevost (26th in the Open, 2019 Games athlete)
- “This announcement was no surprise to me as cuts were anticipated. Regardless, if the opportunity presents itself (backfill spots, etc), I will be ready to compete. If that opportunity does not come, well then I move onto next year and get ready to earn my spot back again! It is what it is. There are bigger things happening in the world.”
PD Savage (Ireland National Champion, 41st in the Open)
- In an Instagram video, Savage thanked the Irish community and all his fans. He also announced that he would donate the money that he had raised to fund his trip to the Games (over $12,000 USD) to Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Megan Lovegrove (United Kingdom National Champion, her invite would have been her first individual Games appearance)
- “Yes I am gutted but I wouldn’t have lasted long in this sport if I didn’t love the fight. I train for me, to feel I’m progressing and to make myself and those who support me damn proud. Nothing worth having has ever come without its obstacles.”
- “This season has had some stumbling blocks and I see the following months as an opportunity to chip away at my building blocks and work my weaknesses. Using that focus has always resulted in my most enjoyable moments in CrossFit. Hopefully I will get to represent my country again and show this girl from the Lake District can hold her own.”
One big thing: Despite the initial wave of invitations going out on Saturday and due today, many of the athletes who are on the outside looking in could receive a berth once again due to back-fill spots and travel restrictions not allowing some athletes in the top-20 to travel to Aromas, CA. Alexandre Caron, Elliot Simmonds, Cedric LaPointe, Logan Collins, (Zack) George, Ben Smith, Sean Sweeney and Willy Georges could all potentially receive invites on the men’s side through their top-30 finishes in the Open. Sabrina Caron, Prevost, Manon Lesur, Chapman, Meg Reardon and Emma Tall could receive invites for the women. The five Athletes who lost their Sanctional qualifying spots at the Games could also receive invites again through the backfill process. Those athletes include Tola Morakinyo for the men and Saghafi, Emily Rolfe, Kiel, and Cecilia Ramirez Villamil for the women.