Which Top-50 Athletes Have the Best Chance to Become Games Rookies?
As expected, at the conclusion of the 2021 Open, the first page of the worldwide leaderboard is heavily populated by athletes one would expect to see.
- But sifting through the Tia-Clair Toomeys and Pat Vellners of the world also reveals 27 athletes on the men’s side and 20 on the women’s side in the top 50 who haven’t yet competed at the CrossFit Games as an individual.
- Some of them are athletes who have become somewhat familiar in recent weeks, such as teenage stars Emma Cary and Mallory O’Brien, but others are relatively unknown, leading to the question: Who in the top 50 in the Open has the best chance of qualifying to the Games?
Here’s what we’re thinking:
Cedric Lapointe: Twelfth overall, Lapointe qualified for the Games last year until the global pandemic caused CrossFit LLC to reduce the number of qualifiers. Beyond online competitions, Lapointe proved himself without a doubt last season when he placed fourth in a jam-packed field at Filthy 150 in Dublin, Ireland.
- Lapointe is basically a Games level athlete who has been slightly unlucky to not get the chance to compete at the Games yet, and speaking with him for even one short moment reveals how hungry this 24-year-old Canadian is.
Joshua Al-chamaa: Twenty-eighth overall, physically speaking, this British athlete has everything. He can run, he can bike, swim, row and his gymnastics are phenomenal for a 6-foot-2, 206-pound man.
- He also showed he can compete with the best at last year’s Strength in Depth in London, UK, when he placed 13th in a competition won by five-time Games champion Mat Fraser.
Jayson Hopper: Nineteenth overall, Hopper is just 23 years old, but has been rising through the ranks in the last four years. Last year he had a top-200 performance in the Open.
- At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Hopper finished 21.3 in 8:53 and turned around and hit 326 pounds in 21.4, smashing perennial Games athlete Brent Fikowski’s scores — 9:10 on 21.3 and 296 pounds on 21.4 — a man who has a similar build to Hopper.
- Hopper has been on our radar for a while, and his top 20 finish in the Open solidifies our belief that he has a real chance of qualifying to the Games this summer.
Mallory O’Brien: Fifth overall, O’Brien is one of three teenagers who finished in the top 15 in the world — Cary (second) and Emma Lawson (15th) being the other two. And while we could have selected all three, chances are the Games roster won’t see three 16 and 17-year-olds this summer.
- So, while a difficult pick, our money is on O’Brien over Cary and Lawson, as she’s slightly older, and had her score not been adjusted in 21.2 because of what appeared to be unnecessary no-reps, O’Brien would have actually finished ahead of Cary in second place.
Larissa Cunha: Twenty-third overall, we think this Brazilian athlete has a great chance of earning a berth to the Games from the Latin American Semifinals. She was the national champion in the Open last season and qualified to the Games prior to the pandemic-related qualification adjustments.
- Cunha was also 15th at the Dubai CrossFit Championships and 19th at Wodapalooza last season, as well as 39th in the Open in 2020.
Sasha Nievas: Just behind Cunha in 25th, and also like Cunha, this 22-year-old Argentinian has two top 40 Open finishes — she was 36th last year.
- Two women will qualify for the Games from the Brazil CrossFit Championship in Sao Paulo, and we think these two women will be fighting for one, or both, of those spots.