CrossFit Games

Quarterfinals Preview: Africa and South America

April 6, 2021 by
Credit: CrossFit LLC
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This year, the Quarterfinals gives the CrossFit community a unique opportunity to showcase the fittest athletes of each continent, giving them the opportunity to move forward in the season to the Semifinals.

Remind me: This year, 10% of the top athletes in each continent will move on to Quarterfinals happening this weekend.

  • In Africa, 302 women and 437 men will move on.
  • In South America, 474 women and 725 men will move on.
  • From the Quarterfinals, 300 athletes worldwide will advance to Semifinals.
  • In Africa and South America, the top 30  men and women will advance from the Quarterfinals.

From the 10% of men and women advancing to the Quarterfinals from Africa, there are a number of athletes to watch, as well as a handful of new up-and-comers. Here are the athletes to watch from Africa.

The battle-tested: These men are seasoned Games and Sanctionals veterans who have a real shot to move not only to Semifinals, but potentially to the Games.

Jason Smith: The six-time South African national champion is also a two-time Games Veteran as well as the two-time Open champion in the 35-39 age division.

  • Prior to the changes in the CrossFit Games season, Smith competed at Regionals six times, with his best finish being 3rd in the Meridian regional in 2017.
  • In 2017, he came in 10th at the Games and in 2019, he finished in 29th overall.
  • Outside of the Games, he has finished in 7th at the 2019 Dubai Fitness Championships and 8th at Fittest in Capetown in 2019.
  • He currently sits in 264th worldwide after the 2021 Open.

Mohamed Elomda: The six-time Egyptian national champion is also a seasoned Regionals and Games competitor.

  • In 2019, he came in 44th overall at the Games and competed in the 2018 Meridian regional where he came in 12th overall.
  • Currently, he sits in 87th worldwide and second in Africa at the close of the 2021 Open.

Richard Wollboldt: The 25-year-old 2018 CrossFit Games team competitor currently trains out of Invictus Boston and sits 7th overall in Africa.

  • In 2018, he competed with Cape CrossFit Wolfpack at the Meridian regional, where they took 2nd place and went on to take 20th place at the Games.
  • He also competed in the 2017 Meridian regional with Cape CrossFit Wolfpack.
  • He currently trains out of Invictus Boston with his fiance and training partner Sarah Gore who sits in 77th in Africa.

Justin Swart: Competed with fellow South African top contender Richard Wollboldt at the 2018 CrossFit Games with the Cape CrossFit Wolfpack.

  • He is a four-time Regionals athlete, including one individual appearance where he finished in 13th at the Meridian regional in 2018 as an individual.
  • In 2020, he finished 17th at the Brazil CrossFit Championship.
  • He currently sits in 10th in Africa and 520th worldwide.

Other battle-tested athletes to watch out for:

  •  Ruan Duvenage: Three-time regional athlete and three-time second fittest man in South Africa. Currently sits in 8th in Africa.
  • Abdelrahman Abdullah: 2018 team competitor in the Meridian regional, currently sits in 12th in Africa.
  • Richard Smith: A five-time Regionals competitor who currently sits in 13th in Africa competing out of South Africa.
  • Ahmed Eid: A two-time team Regionals competitor out of the Pacific region in 2016 and 2017. He currently sits in 23rd in Africa.

Newer athletes verging on elite: While these men have yet to make an appearance at a large event such as the Games or Sanctionals, they shouldn’t be written off just yet. These men are here to make their mark on the 2021 season.

Kealan Henry: While he has yet to make a Games appearance, Henry is not one to be written off. The 27-year old from South Africa currently trains in France and is a legitimate contender to become a 2021 CrossFit Games athlete.

  • He sat in 20th place after the second week and finished in 83rd overall at the close of the 2021 Open.
  • He currently sits in first place overall in Africa going into Quarterfinals.

Daren Zurnamer: This 19 year old out of South Africa is competing in his first season this year and while he is relatively unknown, he currently sits in 415th worldwide and fourth overall in Africa.

  • Perhaps his most impressive finish was in 21.2, where he came in 77th in the world with a time of 10:01.
  • He trains unaffiliated out of a gym called Farmhouse Fitness in South Africa, which offers fitness destination retreats for travelers and locals in South Africa.

Other Men To Keep Your Eye On:

  • Alexandre Bradley: 2020 Tunisian National Champion and currently sits in fifth in Africa.
  • Barend Smit: Currently 6th overall in Africa and was the 2020 15th fittest man in South Africa.

Women Division, Africa:

The battle-tested: These women are seasoned veterans in competitions to the CrossFit Games to Regionals and Sanctionals.

Michellle Merand: This two-time Regionals athlete and Games Competitor currently sits second overall in Africa.

  • In 2019, she came in 41st overall at the CrossFit Games and in 2020, she was the second fittest woman in South Africa.
  • This year, she continues to hold that title, taking second place overall in South Africa at the close of the 2021 Open.

Dina Swift: At the close of her 9th CrossFit Open, Swift found herself in fifth overall in Africa.

  • Swift is a 3-time Regionals competitor and has also made an appearance at the 2019 CrossFit Games, where she came in 98th overall.
  • In 2013, 2014, and 2015, she competed once on a team and twice as an individual respectively.

Other Women To Keep Your Eye On:

  • Gemma Rader: 2018 team athlete at the Meridian regional, currently sits in 7th in Africa
  • Aya Fouad: 2019 fittest woman in Egypt and CrossFit Games competitor.
  • Janine Penniall: Three-time Regionals competitor, currently sits 10th in Africa.
  • Anneke Spies: 2017 team competitor at the Meridian regional.

The newer athletes verging on elite: Don’t count these women out just yet. While they are new to the scene, they are ready to make their mark this year.

Mariska Smit: This year will be Smit’s third Open, but she currently sits first overall in Africa and took home the 2021 title of South African National Champion.

Michelle Basnett: This 24-year-old out of South Africa, currently sits in third overall in Africa.

  • Basnett competed in two Sanctionals in 2019, the Fittest in Cape Town where she came in eighth place and the Filthy 150 (which was actually part of the 2020 season), where she placed 23rd.

Tanha Bouffe: At just 22 years old, Bouffe currently sits in fourth overall in Africa. While this is her fourth Open, this year has been her best finish overall yet.

Christina Livaditakis: The 2021 Zimbabwean national champion currently sits sixth overall in Africa.

From the 10% of men and women advancing to the Quarterfinals from South America, there are a number of athletes to watch, as well as a handful of new up-and-comers. Here are the athletes to watch from South America.

The top male contenders: These men are seasoned Games and Sanctionals veterans who have a real shot to move not only to Semifinals, but potentially to the Games.

Augustin Richelme: This two-time CrossFit Regionals athlete and one-time CrossFit Games athlete not only sits first overall in South America, but also ninth overall in the world.

  • After a first-place finish in 21.3, Richelme secured his spot in the top ten on the leaderboard and also earned the title of Argentinian National Champion.
  • At just 23 years old, the Argentinian native already has a Games appearance under his belt, where he finished 50th in 2019.
  • He also finished eighth overall in the 2020 Brazil CrossFit Championship and was the 2019 Argentinian National Champion.

Omar Martinez: The now four-time Venezuelan national champion already has one Regionals and one CrossFit Games appearance under his belt.

  • In 2018, he finished 24th at the Latin American regional and in 2019, he finished 66th at the CrossFit Games.
  • He currently sits 52nd in the world at the close of the 2021 Open.
  • He also finished 16th at the 2020 Brazil CrossFit Championship.

Piero Gorichon: The now three-time Chilean national champion currently sits third overall in South America.

  • In 2019, he finished in 73rd at the CrossFit Games. 
  • He currently sits 73rd overall in the world, finishing two out of the four workouts in the top 100 worldwide.

Guilherme Malheiros: At only 21 years old, Malheiros already has two CrossFit Games appearances and 3 national championship titles under his belt.

  • The 21-year-old Brazilian currently sits 4th overall in South America and 84th in the world.
  • More impressively, he finished 7th overall worldwide in 21.4, lifting 343 pounds for the clean and jerk complex.
  • In 2017, he came in 2nd place at the CrossFit Games in the 16-17 year old teenage division.
  • In 2019, he made his way back to the Games, where he finished 48th overall in the individual men’s division at just 19 years old.

Anderon Primo: One of the top athletes out of CrossFit Invictus’ Brazilian affiliation, Primo has made his mark as a four-time Regionals athlete.

  • In 2020, he finished second overall in Brazil and had a best overall finish of seventh place at the 2018 Latin American Regionals.
  • In 2020, he finished 7th in the Brazil CrossFit Championship.
  • He currently sits in third in Brazil, eighth in South America, and 128th in the world.

Julian Serna: The 37-year-old who currently sits in 10th in South America and finished the 2021 Open as the Colombian National Champion.

  • He also has one Games appearance under his belt with Team Soul Miami, where he finished eighth overall with his team.
  • He is also a six-time Regionals athlete from 2012-2018, where his best finish as an individual was in 2014 at the South East regional, where he finished 10th.
  • He also won the Atlantic regional in 2018 with Team Soul Miami.
  • He currently sits in 136th in the world after the close of the 2021 Open.

Pablo Chalfun: This CrossFit Games athlete is probably best known as the first South American man to qualify for the CrossFit Games, qualifying out of the Latin American regional in 2018.

  • He currently sits in fifth in Brazil and 11th in South America.

Other battle-tested athletes to watch out for: 

  • Benjamin Guitierez: This 20-year-old is making his mark for the first time in the individual men’s division after finishing eighth in 2018 in the 16-17 teenage division at the CrossFit Games.
  • Giovanni Campo: Currently sits in second in Colombia and 12th in South America.
  • In his first Open, Paolini finished 13th in South America and 174th in the world, making him one to watch out for.
  • Maximiliano Arigossi: Three-time Regionals athlete from 2016-2018, with a best finish of fifth in Latin America in 2018. He currently sits 14th in South America.
  • Lucas Almeida: 2018 Regionals athlete, currently sits in 15th in South America.
  • Santiago Comba: 2019 CrossFit Games competitor and 2018 team Regionals athlete. He currently sits in 16th in South America and is the Uruguayan National Champion.
  • Lucas Da Rosa: 2-time Regionals athlete and 18th in the 2019 Brazil National Championship. Currently 18th overall in South America.
  • Bruno Marins: 2018 team Regionals athlete, currently sits in 19th in South America. He also came in 12th at the 2020 Brazil CrossFit Championship.
  • Rolo Gomez: 2018 team Regionals athlete. Currently sits in 20th in South America.
  • Guilherme Dominguez: 3rd in the 2020 Brazil CrossFit Championship. Currently sits 22nd overall in South America.
  • Paolo Eras: 2013 Latin American regional athlete. Currently sits in 45th in South America.

Newer athletes verging on elite: While these men have yet to make significant appearances at a large event such as the Games or Sanctionals, they shouldn’t be written off just yet. These men are here to make their mark on the 2021 season.

Pedro Martins: In his sixth Open appearance, Martins has made some major improvements in his Game for the 2021 season.

  • This year, he went from a previous best finish of 10th in Brazil in 2019 to finishing second in Brazil in 2021.
  • In 2019, he came in 15th at the Brazil CrossFit Championship.
  • He currently sits fifth overall in South America and 109th in the world.

Other newer athletes to watch out for:

  • Gustavo Errico: This 23-year-old Venezuelan finished seventh in South America and 124th in the world.
  • Kaique Cerveny: Currently sits fourth in Brazil, 9th in South America, and 132nd in the world at the close of the 2021 Open.
  • Thainã Coma: 17th overall in South America and 213th in the world at the close of the 2021 Open.

Women’s Division, South America:

The battle-tested: These women are seasoned veterans in competitions to the CrossFit Games to Regionals and Sanctionals.

Larissa Cunha: This former Regionals competitor currently sits second overall in South America and 23rd worldwide.

  • In 2020, she was crowned the Brazilian National Champion. While she took second this year, she made significant improvements overall on the worldwide leaderboard, moving from 39th to 23rd.

Sasha Nievas: A former Regionals athlete, Nievas is one of the five South American women to finish in the top 50 in this year’s Open.

  • This year, she took home the title of the fittest woman in Argentina and competed at the 2018 regional in Latin America, where she took 24th.

Melina Rodriguez: This two-time CrossFit Games athlete also has two Regionals appearances under her belt.

  • In 2017, she made an appearance at the Games from the South Regional as part of Team Bigg Friends.
  • In 2019, she returned to the CrossFit Games as an individual woman.
  • She also took first in the Brazilian CrossFit Championship in 2020 and 6th in 2019.
  • She currently sits in 41st overall worldwide as one of the five South American women to crack the top 50.

Laura Gonzalez-Marin: Currently sitting 6th overall in South America, Gonzalez-Marin has made appearances at 2 Regionals and 1 CrossFit Games, where she represented Venezuela.

  • She has made two appearances at the Atlantic Regional in 2017 and 2018.

Valentina Rangel: Rangel currently sits in eighth in South America and 105th worldwide.

  • She has one regional appearance under her belt at the Meridian regional in 2017.

Carol Colling: The four-time Paraguayan national champion already has a Games appearance under her belt.

  • In 2019, she represented Paraguay at the CrossFit Games, finishing 47th in the individual women’s division.
  • She also finished 12th at the Latin American regional in 2018 on a team.
  • She currently sits in ninth in South America and 127th in the wold.

Other battle-tested athletes to watch out for:

  • Luiza Dias: the three-time regional athlete currently sits in 10th in South America and 144th worldwide.
  • Maria Camila Quintero: The 2019 CrossFit Games athlete from Colombia currently sits in 11th in South America.
  • Thais Nunes: The 2018 Regionals athlete currently sits in 12th in South America.
  • Jimena Delamer: In 2018, she took 12th in the 35-39 age division. This year, she sits in 13th in South America going into the Quarterfinals.
  • Lucy Pacheco: 2018 Regionals athlete who currently sits in 14th in South America.
  • Defina Ortuño: 2018 Games competitor with Codigo CrossFit. Currently sits in 15th in South America.

Newer athletes verging on elite: While these women have yet to make significant appearances at a large event such as the Games or Sanctionals, they shouldn’t be written off just yet. These women are here to make their mark on the 2021 season.

Amanda Fusuma: At just 24 years old, Fusuma finished her second Open ever in 1st place in Brazil and South America and 18th worldwide.

  • In 2020, she finished in 14th at the Brazil CrossFit Championship and in the last 3 years, she has made significant improvements, moving 9,113 spots up the leaderboard since 2018.

Gabriella Moratti: While Moratti might be new to the elite competition scene, she is not new to the sport of fitness.

  • In 2016 and 2017, she competed in the 16-17-year-old division, finishing 41st in Brazil in 2016 and finishing 29th in the world and first in Brazil in 2017.
  • She is also one of the five women to crack the top 50 worldwide in the Open from South America, finishing 47th overall at age 21.
  • She currently sits in fifth overall in South America.

Other newer athletes to watch out for:

  • Alexia Williams: Currently sits in 19th in South America after an impressive 26th place finish worldwide in 21.4.

The bottom line: While South America and Africa are not always considered frontrunners during the season, there are a number of athletes with multiple Games and Regionals appearances under their belts. The Quarterfinals will be a tight race amongst the top competitors for both continents to determine the final selection of athletes progressing to Semifinals.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article inaccurately stated that Michelle Basnett had not competed in any Sanctional competitions. That statement has been corrected.

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