Mat Fraser’s Top 5 Moments — 2020 Atalanta
The year 2020 for the CrossFit Games could be described as the season that almost wasn’t, but in the face of turmoil on multiple fronts, organizers and athletes remained steadfast and found a way to push through to the finish.
In a lot of ways it parallels Mat Fraser’s journey at the top of the sport. Many remember the heartbreaking finish of 2015, and the tense, somewhat unexpected drama of 2019, but the uncertainty of the 2020 season as it slowly unraveled in the midst of a pandemic and socio-political strife put another significant hurdle in the path of Fraser as a man chasing history, and to whom many looked to as the face of the sport to be a stabilizing presence in an otherwise tumultuous ecosystem.
In the end, as he had done so many times before, Fraser stood tall and answered the bell.
#1 — 2020 Atalanta
The path to Mat Fraser’s swan song could only be described as “vintage Fraser,” a dominating performance in stage one carried over to the Ranch and Morgan Hill Outdoor Sport Complex in stage two.
- 18 total events across both stages leading up to the Atalanta finale resulted in 13 event wins, including a record six consecutive event wins during stage two. His only two “blemishes,” during stage two were a pair of 2nd place finishes.
- Statistically speaking it is doubtful we will ever see another performance like it, with Fraser taking home 95.45% of the points available to him heading into the final event, and the only thing separating him from a clean sweep to that point was seven pounds in the CrossFit Total, and 8.48 seconds in the Swim ‘N Stuff event.
The final event, Atalanta, was dubbed “the most difficult event ever” by CrossFit’s GM of Sport Dave Castro, but the enormity of the test was largely overshadowed by the fact that Fraser, and his training partner and sister-in-arms Tia-Clair Toomey had mathematically clinched their titles.
- Unbeknownst to the rest of the world they had a plan, and instead of rivalry they chose solidarity, standing side-by-side, going rep for rep throughout the first mile run, and the middle portion of the workout before heading out for the final mile of the competition together.
As fate would have it, unity was also a winning strategy, and as Fraser and Toomey crossed the finish line hands clasped, it put a 100 point bow on the most incredible individual performance in CrossFit Games history that would also be Fraser’s last.
- Matt O’Keefe, Manager: “Relief, joy, pride, awe, perfect. Mat and Tia crossing together after working so hard together and pushing each other day in and day out was special for everyone. Especially all of us on their teams. That was one of the most unique and fitting sport finishes in history. Crossing that line for Mat ended any debate or confusion. He was the greatest Crossfitter in history. I believed he was anyway prior to that win but that cleared any debate. He has dominated. Won a tight race. He continues to lengthen the gap between himself and anyone else. For him now, to finish his career crossing the line with Tia. It’s incredibly special.”
- Sammy Moniz, Fiance: “It’s always emotional watching him seal the deal. Even when the points are spread I just can’t help but get emotional knowing he’s going to be proud of his efforts. All the hours of training, recovery, sleep, etc. all the many decisions that go into each day come down to those few days and those few workouts. I felt a sense of relief watching him take it in. Watching him go through that workout WITH Tia was so special. It was even more powerful and special knowing this was his last season. We’ve known for some time within our small circle. It was a challenging year for so many reasons but we also got to savor it. We knew we were in the “good ole days” while they were happening. Watching the two of them go through that together was a true “living in the moment” experience. I’m forever grateful I got to be there for that final event, to watch him do his thing one last time and to be there to celebrate with the team when it all ended.”
The final image of Mat Fraser at the CrossFit Games is one of absolute victory. Victory in the event, the competition, his career, and most importantly victory shared with those closest to him, who stood by him through eight seasons, seven podiums, five titles, a dozen records, and countless hours of sacrifice behind closed doors.
Very few athletes get to write the final chapter of their careers word for word. Even the greats often fall victim to the allure of “one more,” and by virtue of the same mindset that made them great in the first place, become casualties to the detriments of time.
Mat Fraser went out on his terms, and in doing so made sure that he went out at the only place fitting for the man that holds every significant individual record in CrossFit Games history.