Justin Medeiros: More Than Just A Mullet
Once you see Justin Medeiros compete it’s hard to forget him.
The mullet sporting college student has been one of the biggest breakthrough stars of the 2020 season, earning his way to the Games by winning the opening Sanctional of the season, and securing his spot in the final five in stage one.
The thing is, not many people saw him coming in stage one, even after he beat 13 current and former Games athletes at the Filthy 150 in Ireland roughly 10 months ago. Few will miss him going forward as he’s already earned himself rookie of the year honors, but the magnitude of his performance extends well beyond the leaderboard.
One big thing: Back in 2018 I wrote an article that included Medeiros as an athlete to watch for the season that could surprise some people as a young up-and-comer. Looking back at Medeiros’ competitive career so far, he might have become a household name much sooner had it not been for a few bad breaks.
- In 2016: In Medeiros’ first season competing, and last as a teenage athlete, he finished 19th worldwide in the 16-17 division. In future years that would be enough to get him to the Games but 2016 was the last season that they only took 10 athletes to the Games and did not include teenagers in the Age Group Online Qualifier (then known as the Masters Qualifier).
- In 2017: After making the jump to the Individual competition Medeiros qualified for the California Regional finishing 15th at just 18 years-old. 11 of the men in front of him that year have had experience at the Games either as an individual, on a team, or as a Masters athlete during their career.
- In 2018: Following Regional realignment where the California and West Regionals were combined, Medeiros improved one spot finishing 14th at the newly formed West Coast Regional. Had the realignment not happened, Medieros would have finished 5th at the California Regional and would have qualified for the Games.
- In 2019: After a respectable showing in Miami at Wodapalooza, Medeiros took the floor at the Granite Games, and was in a qualifying position for the Games all the way until the final workout when a struggle with the heavy sandbag led to one of his worst finishes of the weekend. He missed qualification by one place and just ten points.
Bouncing back stronger: Clearly the adversity and near misses over the course of the past four seasons only added fuel to the fire, as Medeiros was able to finally earn his coveted Games spot in Ireland. But the resiliency earned through his hardships on the competition floor would pay dividends even after earning his Games ticket.
- In January while away at Boise State University for school, Medeiros learned that his father was in the hospital with a head injury. Without hesitation he returned home to spend the next three weeks by his father’s side, eventually opting to take a semester off from school to stay and spend the next few months helping his family with his dad’s recovery.
- In August, he started back at Boise St. as a full-time student as he geared up for stage one of the CrossFit Games in September. Two weeks prior to the start of stage one, Medeiros’ grandfather – who lived next door to him during his entire childhood – passed away. Medeiros was half way through a “mock games” weekend when he got the news.
Pressure builds diamonds: After losing a loved one that was so integral to his life, no one would have blamed Justin Medeiros if he chose to step away from training or if his effort at the Games became secondary while he went through the grieving process.
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, Medeiros doubled down and chose to honor his late grandfather through his performances in stage one, crushing the weekend (including this epic PR) and getting to hear his name called in the top five surrounded by his family and friends.
The bottom line: At 21 years-old Justin Medeiros has a bright future ahead of him in the sport of fitness. What’s waiting for him in Dave Castro’s backyard in a couple weeks will be the biggest test of his career yet.
But given what he’s be able to battle through so far, a little dust at the Ranch won’t hurt.