Meet Four Up and Coming Athletes to Watch After Open Week Two
In past years, after the second week of the Open, the leaderboard doesn’t mean a whole lot, as there have always been at least three more workouts to shake things up. Such is not the case this year. With only one week to go, it’s safe to say the worldwide leaderboard is already very relevant.
- And while many of the usual suspects are sitting pretty in the top 20 — Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr, Kari Pearce, Kara Saunders, Katrin Davidsdottir, Noah Ohlsen, Brent Fikoswki, Pat Vellner, and Justin Medeiros, to name a handful — there are also a good number of notable lesser-known athletes near the top of the leaderboard, who are worth talking about.
The obvious three: On the women’s side, the top two spots are currently held by a 17- and 16-year-old in Mallory O’Brien and Emma Cary, both of whom have competed at the CrossFit Games in the teen division, and on the men’s side, 28 year-old Alex Kotoulas from Greece leads the way.
- O’Brien placed fourth and fifth at the Games respectively in 2018 and 2019 in the 14-15 year-old division, while Cary topped the world in 2019. It’s safe to say both are legitimate contenders to qualify to the Semifinals in the individual division this year.
- Though relatively unknown, Kotoulas has been around for a while, having competed at the European Regional in 2018 and at various Sanctional competitions in the last two years.
The less obvious four: Four lesser-known athletes currently in the top 20 who we think have a real shot of being in the final heat at a Semifinal this season include Jake Berman, Kealan Henry, Ella Wilkinson and Christee Bishop.
Berman: Currently sitting in seventh overall, 25 year-old Berman isn’t new to the CrossFit competition scene. He competed with a team at Regionals in 2013 and 2014, and as an individual in 2016 and 2017, and word on the street says he’s hungry for the Games.
- Berman, who trains with Noah Ohlsen, Travis Mayer and Kyle Bernier — all of whom are currently in the top 50 on the worldwide leaderboard — was also 17th at last season’s CrossFit Filthy 150 and 18th at the Dubai CrossFit Championship.
Henry: Currently sitting in 20th overall, we think 27-year-old Henry has a real chance of being the one Games qualifier out of Africa. Last year, he was second in South Africa — generally the strongest country out of the continent — and evidently he has only improved since then.
- At the very least, we expect he could earn a spot to the last chance qualifier, so he is a name to remember as the season unfolds.
Wilkinson: Currently in twelfth overall, Wilkinson is only 21, but already has a solid competition resume. She placed 219th in the Open last year and has competed at various Europe-based Sanctionals for the last two seasons. Last year, she placed a respectable 13th at CrossFit Filthy 150.
- It’s only a matter of time until some of these younger European athletes start challenging some of the household names on the continent, and now with two great Open workouts under her belt, we think Wilkinson is in the running to do just that.
Bishop: Currently in 16th, this 30-year-old Australian athlete has been competing for years. Her first Open was in 2014, and she has gotten better and better every year. Last year, she finished a respectable 103rd in the world in the Open.
- Bishop also gained Sanctionals experience in the last two seasons, placing 11th at the 2019 Down Under CrossFit Championship and ninth at the 2019 Australian CrossFit Championships. While she is yet to really break through to the top, she has been slowly rising through the ranks for years and we think she has, not just a great chance of qualifying to the Semifinals, but to be in the final heat.