Matt Chan has seen his share of challenges; not just in competition but also in his life. The six-time CrossFit Games athlete suffered a life-threatening bike accident that nearly cost him his leg in 2014 and in his daily job as a firefighter is asked to put himself in harm’s way regularly. So when he had to face off against the two largest athletes in the field on the season premiere of NBC’s The Titan Games on Monday night, he showed not only his athletic ability but also the grit, toughness and heart that has made the 2012 Games runner-up a legend and fan favorite in CrossFit.
The format: In a twist from Season 1 of The Titan Games, the athlete field was cut down to 36 athletes and split into three regions.
- The 12 athletes in each region will compete against each other and then face off against a professional athlete hand-picked by host Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to claim the Regional championship and advance to the finals.
- The athletes go head-to-head in physically grueling events with the best-of-three winner advancing to face the Rock’s professional athlete in the final event of each episode, Mount Olympus.
Event 1, “Nuts and Bolts:” Chan, the oldest competitor in the field at 42-years old, was matched up with Kentucky State Trooper and Tennessee Titans mascot Bartley Weaver in the opening match-up of the Central Region. Weaver was the much bigger athlete, standing 6-1 and weighing in at 270 lbs. Chan is 5-9 and weighs 215 lbs. The first event featured a wall with 2,000 lbs of weight which the athletes had to strategically shed in order to pull the wall down and release a lever, the first athlete to pull the lever wins.
- Both athletes were neck-and-neck until Weaver decided to attempt to pull the wall down with over 700 lbs still left attached. Chan continued stripping the weights while Weaver failed to pull the wall down. Chan took advantage of Weaver’s mistake and won the event. Chan – 1, Weaver – 0.
Event 2, “Lunar Impact:” Starting on opposite ends of an elevated, crescent-shaped platform, each athlete had to scale a two-story ladder and then run atop the platform to a metal wall located at the middle and push against their opponent on the opposite side of the wall until one is forced off the platform.
- Chan used his considerable speed advantage to scale the ladder unto the platform and beat Weaver to a metal wall dividing them and had him within a foot of pushing him off his end of the platform. Weaver was able to recover and slowly pushed against Chan to regain the advantage. Both athletes were on the brink of muscle failure but Weaver had enough in his tank to push Chan off the platform to tie the best of three series. Chan – 1, Weaver – 1.
Event 3, Herculean Pull: This season’s tie-breaking event is a holdover from last season. Contestants race to pull out two 100-lb poles from a central structure, then move on to pull out a middle pole that is 9.5 feet above the ground, leading to a blind tug of war with the other contestant.
- Chan once again used his speed advantage and made quick work of his two poles removing them as Weaver struggled with his. Chan was uncontested in the final pole and easily won the event and clinched his spot to compete against the Rock’s champion in the final event. Chan – 2, Weaver – 1.
Mount Olympus: The final event featured a structure with ten obstacles that test each athlete’s strength, speed, stamina and heart as they race side-by-side through the structure. Chan faced off against former Cleveland Brown’s offensive lineman and ten-time pro-bowler Joel Thomas.
- Thomas, who stands at 6-6 and weighs 270 lbs, matched Chan’s quickness and speed through the first two obstacles. Chan fell on the third obstacle “the Iron Ascent” which cost him valuable time as Thomas grabbed the lead through the next two events. Chan was able to use his smaller frame to catch up with Thomas through the maze and tight confines of the “Cage Crawl.” Chan regained a slight lead as he approached the final obstacle, “the Ball and Chain”, a 300-lb metal wrecking ball that must be dragged to a concrete structure that contains a relic. Both got to the structure at the same time and using a sledgehammer connected to the ball started breaking away at the structure to retrieve the relic. Chan got to his relic first but fumbled with the awkward object while trying to insert it into the final obstacle allowing Thomas to steal the win by less than a second.
- Thomas was crowned as the Central Region Champion and will now have to defend his title in Mount Olympus against other Regional competitors before moving onto the final. In episode two he was successful in defeating deputy sheriff Steven Shelby on Mount Olympus to retain his title.
What’s next: Chan’s Titan Games isn’t over as he will have one more chance in the Regional finals later in the season to win the Region and move onto the finals.
- On the women’s side, two-time Olympic track and field athlete Chantae McMillan won in both of her trips to Mount Olympus including a victory over the Rock’s professional pick, Olympic gold-medalist boxer Claressa Shields.
- Next week’s episode will feature Dani Speegle as she takes on NCAA women’s basketball referee Nadi Carey in a bid to advance on to face McMillan on Mount Olympus.
- The Titan Games broadcasts every Monday at 8:00 EST on NBC.
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