“He’s Slipping,” Castro Doubts Fraser Can Repeat as the “Fittest” at 2020 Games
In one of his daily Instagram Live Q&A sessions last week, Director of the CrossFit Games Dave Castro voiced his opinion and answered questions on a variety of topics including his thoughts on Mathew Fraser winning a record-breaking fifth title in this year’s iteration of the Games.
One big thing: While interacting with followers during the live session, Castro was asked the much-disputed question within the community of “who’s the more dominant CrossFitter, Rich Froning or Fraser”.
- “If Mat can win, which I don’t think he will,” answered Castro. “I actually don’t think he will this year, but if he can, then he will be the most dominant athlete on the individual side.”
- Castro then reiterated that he didn’t think Fraser would repeat as Games champion and gave some of his thoughts on why.
- “He’s slipping,” said Castro. “I think he lost his edge. He has all the fame and popularity, being a slave to the IG, the travel and priorities I think aren’t there.”
Continuing a trend: Leading up to last year’s Games, Castro expressed his doubts on whether Fraser would continue his dominance of the sport. Though he would eventually win his fourth-straight title, it didn’t come easy for Fraser as he entered the final day of competition without the leader’s jersey for the first time since the 2015 Games. He would go on to turn a 15-point deficit heading into a 35-point win, tying Froning’s record of four Games titles.
- The field had appeared to gain ground in 2019, which Castro predicted and one of the reasons why he thought Fraser wouldn’t win heading into last year’s Games.
- Fraser’s 35-point win in 2019 is a far contrast from his average victory margin of 209 points in his previous three Games title runs.
- This year Fraser competed in one Sanctional, winning Strength in Depth in January, before bowing out of the Rogue Invitational online competition in May due to an injury.
- In a typical season the Rogue Invitational would have been a warm-up for the Games for Fraser as it fell during the time frame of Regionals from previous years.
- The May competition month is typically when many of the top athletes would be able to compete against each other at the peak of their respective training cycles and get one final look at their competition before heading into the beginning of the Games.
- Fraser, like many other athletes that will be competing at the Games, will not have competed in a live, in-person competition for almost eight months, if the Games do indeed take place starting on September 14.
The hardest Games: Castro has repeatedly stated that this year’s Games will be the hardest ever for the athletes making the trip to the Ranch in Aromas, California.
- In his latest tweet, Castro even stated that he has programmed what he thinks will be the hardest event in the history of the Games.
- This week he has had Games veterans Sean Sweeney, Jason Carroll and Alessandra Pichelli at the Ranch testing a number of the planned events.
- He stated in his IG Live he thinks that what he has programmed for the Games will be difficult for Fraser.
- “Having a little idea of what the programming is, I think he’s going to be pushed outside his comfort zone,” said Castro. “I don’t know if he can do it.”
- Fraser is familiar with the Ranch, having competed there at the 2016 Games.
- In the three events that were held in Aromas in 2016, Fraser finished in the top-two in two of the events. He won the “Trail Run” and finished second in the “Mini Chipper”.
- He tied for 23rd in the “Deadlift Ladder” with a lift of 505 lbs, his worst finish in Aromas.
A few more shots: Castro also discussed Froning and Patrick Vellner, the two athletes who represent what most people believe are Fraser’s closest competitors and rivals.
- Castro and Vellner have had playful banter over social media since the end of the 2019 Games. Each has gone back-and-forth regarding the Games and Castro’s programming.
- When asked by one person on IG Live if Vellner was “closing the gap” on Fraser, Castro stated, “I haven’t been paying much attention to Vellner. I used to think he could win. Then I thought it slipped away and now he can’t. Maybe he still can. Who knows.”
- Castro is also known to challenge his friend Froning on social media, trying to coax him out of retirement from individual competition to challenge Fraser.
- When discussing Froning’s latest “Into the Storm” motto, Castro said, “Symbolizes how he lives his life ‘Into the Storm’, always taking challenges, except for when it comes to fucking competing against Mat Fraser, then he’s fucking running away from the storm. So let Rich know I said that.”
The bottom line: Though not out of character for Castro to “call out” athletes, it’s significant when the person who oversees and programs the “test of fitness” questions the ability of arguably the top male athlete in the sport past and present to win, especially when there is no clear-cut challenger to the top podium he has earned the last four years. Castro did acknowledge Fraser’s greatness though and that for the time being he is still the reigning “Fittest on Earth”.
- “It’s his to lose right,” said Castro. “His to lose.”