The Brits Are Coming; A UK Perspective on the 2021 CrossFit Open
The UK’s capital is the home of Europe’s first CrossFit box, CrossFit London and it’s safe to say that the country has long-contributed and competed on the global and European scene at the highest levels of the sport of CrossFit. The “Engine from England” Sam Briggs is an established household name, while Steve Fawcett and Phil Hesketh competed individually in 2015, and Elliot Simmonds (2018, 2019), David Shronke (2020) and Zack George (2020) have all earned individual Games berths in more recent years.
Taking a closer look at the European Open leaderboard with a specific focus on the UK shows that, to borrow a phrase from the much-loved past Sanctionals event, there is plenty of Strength in Depth!
While the global Open sign-up surpassed 2020 numbers, sign-up in the UK remained much below these levels in 2021; no doubt largely due to the continued government constraints in response to COVID-19, to the extent that all gyms remained closed throughout the Open and had been since at least the beginning of January.
Despite the lower sign-up numbers, UK representation remains the most significant contributor to the European Open roster for the 2021 season, with over 10,000 athletes bringing ~20% to the continent.
Once the Open leaderboard was validated, 506 UK men were eligible for the Quarterfinals, which was 14% of the overall Quarterfinal roster for Europe and third most behind France and Spain. Whereas on the women’s side, the UK led the way with 374 Quarterfinals-eligible athletes; 16% of the Quarterfinals roster and the most from any single European country.
Some more details: Within Europe, 27 athletes in the Men’s division managed to finish in the top 250 for every Open workout and of these, 5 were from the UK, (Europe rank):
- Oleg Lascenko (1st)
- Elliot Simmonds (4th)
- Joshua Al-chamaa (6th)
- Reggie Fasa (11th)
- Will Kane (21st)
These five athletes finished every workout inside the UK top 50. If the criteria is expanded to include the UK top 100 in every workout, then the roster of dominant athletes expands to 12, including 2020 UK Fittest Zack George and James St Leger, who finished first in the 2021 Open in both the UK and Europe in the 35-39 division.
On the women’s side, using the same criteria reveals a total of 53 athletes finishing in the top 250 in Europe and of these 9 are from the UK, (Europe rank):
- Sam Briggs (22nd)
- Charlotte Spence (24th)
- Tayla Howe (25th)
- Evie Hollis (26th)
- Lucy Campbell (29th)
- Janie Garratt (38th)
- Saphire Goddard (45th)
- Emelye Dwyer (46th)
- Carys Webster (59th)
Again, probing further into these athlete’s dominance in the UK leaderboard, they all finished inside the UK top 50 for every Open workout, along with Maddy Harris, Kirsty Stroud, Helena Collins and 2020 UK’s fittest, Megan Lovegrove. Loosening the criteria to only four finishes in the UK top 100, then the list expands to 23 athletes, indicating the dominance at the top of UK competitive field brings more depth than on the men’s side.
UK affiliates were still facing restrictions for the individual Quarterfinals weekend; likely reflecting the conversion of UK Quarterfinals-eligible athletes into Quarterfinal registrations, 55% of male athletes (276) and 58% of female athletes (216). However, the UK continues to demonstrate strength into the latter part of the season, with 7 men and 11 women earning Semifinal spots; 11% and 18% of European field respectively.