Quarterfinals Preview: Oceania and Asia
Today we preview the Oceania and Asia Quarterfinals as individual athletes from those two continents will jockey for the coveted in-person Semifinal competition invitation, moving one step closer to qualifying for the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games.
Oceania: According to the Open leaderboard, the Oceania region will have 997 men and 898 women each competing for 30 spots each at the Torian Pro Oceania Semifinal held in Brisbane, Australia on May 28-30 with a majority of those athletes representing either the CrossFit-rich countries of Australia and New Zealand. With just 3% of the men and 3.3% of the women’s field moving onto the next stage of the Games after the online Quarterfinals we will take a look into the highly competitive Oceania field and break down who we think will be competing for one of the 30 spots.
- The Fittest: The field is headlined by the four-time reigning and defending “Fittest Woman on Earth” Tia-Clair Toomey who at the time of publication has just won her first career worldwide Open title in dominating fashion.
- The battle-tested: These are athletes who are Games veterans in the top-60 of the Open leaderboard who we predict will qualify for the Torian Pro. These athletes include Kara Saunders, Maddy Sturt, Jessica Coughlan, Alethea Boon, Justine Beath. Jaime Goodwin, Emma Chapman, Gemma Root, Kate Gordon, plus Carly Menzies and Aimee Tawhai who have made appearances at the Games on a team. A notable athlete missing from this group is Jamie Simmonds who sustained an injury prior to the Open and will not compete this year.
- Newer athletes verging on elite: This group may not have the Games resume as the “battle-tested” but that’s due to being relatively new to the scene. Katelin Van Zyl burst onto the scene in 2019 with an impressive Open that led to her first Games appearance. She followed that up with another impressive Open performance last year finishing 20th before declining her Games invitation due to pregnancy. Harriet Roberts earned her first individual Games invite last season when she won the Pandaland CrossFit Championship after making two appearances on a team.
- National champs from Sanctional seasons: MariaNive Clark is the only athlete that falls into this category that isn’t in a previous one. She represented Samoa at the 2019 Games where she finished 119th. She is ranked 342nd currently in the Oceania region.
- Sanctional participants: Ellie Turner leads this group of athletes who have competed in Sanctional events the last two years and was highlighted as one of our “Young Guns of 2021”. The 23-year old didn’t disappoint and finished 35th worldwide in the Open and third in Oceania. Madeline Shelling (4th in Oceania), Marnie Sykes (5th), Christee Bishop (7th), Laura Clifton (10th), Amanda MacKay (15th) are athletes who have had experience on the Sanctional circuit.
- Relative unknowns: Sophia Knowles, Georgia Pryer, Briony Challis and Emily De Rooy are all under 24 years of age and ranked in the top-50 who all saw significant improvements in their Open performances this year compared to past years.
- The battle-tested: This list starts with Jay Crouch who at just 22 years old has three years of Games experience under his belt; last year was his first as an individual. The Australian had his best finish in the Open this year, finishing 17th worldwide. Six-time Games veteran Khan Porter finished second in Oceania and had his best Open finish since 2017, finishing 33rd worldwide. Matt McLeod, Zeke Grove, Rob Forte, James Newbury, Brandon Swann, Royce Dunn and Mitchell Sinnamon round-out a who’s-who of Games athletes that will make the men’s competition an Oceania All-Star event.
- Newer athletes verging on elite: Bayden Brown saw his two-year reign as the “Fittest in Australia” come to an end as he finished third. The 26-year old has two Games appearances to coincide with those national championships. Luke Fiso competed at the Games in 2019 and finished 52nd in his rookie campaign.
- National champs from Sanctional seasons: No one in the Oceania Quarterfinal fell into this category.
- Sanctional participants: Evan Morris, Hayden LaVanda, Matt Gilpin, Jack Clark, Jake Standen, Ryan Woodall and Zac Thomas have all competed in Sanctionals over the last two seasons and finished in the top-50 in their region.
- Relative unknowns: Luke Fowler, Ben Fowler, Ethan Van Der Velden, William Kearney, Jack Laker, Stephen Mischewski and Rees Machell are all unknowns but it’s due to their age as they are the new batch of athletes under 23-years old looking to take over from the group of “battle-tested” veterans.
Outside the Top 60:
- Women: Charlotte Mathews (114th).
- Men: Lucas O’Brien (162nd).
Asia: The Asia Invitational Semifinal joins the Torian Pro as the only two competitions that were not Sanctional events prior to this season. The live competition will be held June 7-13 in South Korea and like Oceania will invite 30 athletes however only the top two men or women will advance to the Games. The men’s Quarterfinals will have 828 athletes with only 3.6% advancing to the Semifinals. The women’s division has just 418 athletes with 7.2% moving onto the Asia Invitational.
- The battle-tested: There aren’t many athletes that fall into this category as the Asia region on the women’s side is still developing. Russia’s Anastasiya Ganina was the top finisher representing Asia at the 2019 Games, finishing 51st. She finished 12th in the Open for her Quarterfinals invitation. Israel’s Nicole Pettel (Israel) and Akiko Kamitani (Japan) each survived “First Cut” from the 2019 Games and are in the top-20 in this year’s Open for Asia.
- Newer athletes verging on elite: This category is bare for now as Korea and Russia appear to have the upperhand in the development of women athletes that could potentially make their mark for a long time in the division. China isn’t too far behind those two countries.
- National champs from Sanctional seasons: The majority of the athletes for Asia fall into this category, among the names are Shahad Budebs (UAE), Yuko Sakuyama (Japan), Aichen Chen (China), Dawon Jung (Korea), Kristen Lim (Philippines) and Hajer Jamal (Kuwait)
- Sanctional participants: These are athletes competed at the Asia CrossFit Championships and Pandaland CrossFit Challenge Sanctional events over the last two seasons: Alexsandra Buzunova (currently 4th in Asia), Or Cohen (13th), Jingyi Zhang (29th) and Tsai-Jui Hung (45th).
- Relative unknowns: Keep an eye out on 22-year old Seungyeon Choi of Korea as she was on top of the Asia Open leaderboard and ranked 44th worldwide thanks to two top-100 event finishes. Her Open scores saw a huge jump from 740th worldwide last year as a 20 year old she competed at the Asia CrossFit Championships finishing 14th. Russia’s Svetlana Kubyshkina had three Open event finishes in the top-100 including 59th in 21.1. She finished third in the Open for the Asia Region and first in Russia. She leads a contingent of six Russian women who finished in the top-ten in Asia.
- The battle-tested: Though he has yet to actually compete in a live, in-person CrossFit Games competition, Roman Khrennikov leads this group and there’s little reason to believe that he won’t continue to dominate despite his fourth place finish in the Open for the region. Last year he finished 13th in the online stage of the Games. The Russian has competed in numerous Sanctionals the last two years including winning the Italian Showdown in 2019 and carding top-five finishes at the Dubai CrossFit Championship, Filthy150 and Strength In Depth.
- Newer athletes verging on elite: In 2019 Ant Hayes burst onto the Games scene with an impressive 27th finish in his rookie appearance. The two-time China national champion from Hong Kong was set for another breakout campaign last year before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the rest of the season. He finished 50th in the Open for the Asia region. Aleksandar Ilin also competed at the 2019 Games, finishing 56th. This year he recorded three top-50 finishes in the Open placing him 27th overall and second in Asia.
- National champs from Sanctional seasons: Hamzeh Tarefi (Palenstine), Vedharth Thappa (India), Majid Al Sharaf (Bahrain), Amin Attallah (Jordan), Mahmood Shalan (UAE), Ram Dover (Israel) and Yasuhiro Uchibori (Japan) are among this group.
- Sanctional participants: China’s ZhenHua Zhou competed at the Asia CrossFit Championship and has parlayed that experience from two years ago to becoming China’s national champion this year in the Open finishing fifth overall in the Asia region.
- Relative unknowns: 36-year old Stas Solodov came out of nowhere to take the top spot on the Asia leaderboard and finished 13th worldwide. He had the world’s second best time in 21.2 with a time of 8:52 to highlight his Open performance. He led the seven Russians in the top-ten for the region. The 22-year old Joshua Hong (Korea) finished 18th worldwide in 21.1 with a time of 11:53 helping him to 8th place finish in the region. .
Outside the Top 60:
- Women: NA.
- Men: Myung Sik Kwak (136th), Khalid Aljarallah (196th) and Edmund Tan (209th).
The bottom line: These two Quarterfinals couldn’t be any different: on one hand, Oceania features a number of the top athletes in the world competing against each other. On the other, Asia, aside from a few individuals, is full of athletes that are relatively unknown outside of their area. What you can expect though are some of the world’s top times coming out of both of these Quarterfinals as they bolster some amazing performances just out of the Open.