Meet Two Argentinian Men Confident in their South American Semifinals Chances
The fight for the top spot at the South American Semifinals could very well come down to two Argentinian men — 27-year-old Nicolas Bidarte and 24-year-old Agustin Richelme — hailing from a country where the average person knows little to nothing about the sport of CrossFit.
- “There are still a lot of people here who don’t know what CrossFit is, and now that I own a box, I realize so many people still think it’s a conventional gym, and when you tell them it’s CrossFit, they’re like, ‘What is that?’ It’s hard to believe,” said Richelme, the owner of AR1 Fitness in Buenos Aires, who placed first in the 2021 Open in South America and fifth in the Quarterfinals.
More on Richelme: Richelme already has invaluable Games experience, having competed in Madison, WI in 2019, where he placed 50th overall.
- Though he’s an elite CrossFit athlete and gym owner today, Richelme admitted he didn’t like CrossFit when his parents convinced him to try it. “My first class was a 20 minute AMRAP with a lot of running, and I hate running…It was a really hard class and I wanted to puke,” he said, laughing. “So I stayed at the traditional gym training biceps and triceps and that shit, and (my family) continued to do it, and (eventually) I gave it another shot and fell in love with it.”
- During the recent Quarterfinals, Richelme placed in the top six on every single event, except the four-rep max front squat, where he placed 69th. That score dropped him to fifth overall. He said he’s confident in his chances to qualify for his second Games, as long as there’s not another max front squat event.
- “I have never been the strongest athlete in the room. I’m confident in my clean and my snatch, but if we’re testing raw strength like a squat, or deadlift or strict press, then I’m not the strongest,” said Richelme, who, between coaching and training, spends 12 hours a day in the gym.
- Should there be a max lifting type of event in the Semifinals, which is likely, he’s hoping it will be in the form of a clean and jerk or snatch.
More on Bidarte: Bidarte, who started CrossFit in 2015 and took the top spot in the South American Quarterfinals, has spent the last five months training in Las Vegas, NV with coach world-renowned coach Justin Cotler.
- His days in Las Vegas have involved biking three miles to the gym before spending six hours there training with some of the best CrossFit athletes in the world, including Kari Pearce, Bethany Shadburne and Danielle Brandon. “Training with them has helped me grow a lot as an athlete and learn a lot of things,” said Bidarte, who lived with Pearce for four months. “We are like a family. Justin is a great coach and he treats us like he’s the father and we’re all his children.”
- The experience has taken his game to a new level, Bidarte explained. “The volume and the programming has been similar (to what I did before), but the intensity is so much harder being surrounded by Games athletes everyday.” As a result, Bidarte, who is returning to Argentina before the Semifinals, said he feels confident the growth he has made in the last five months will help him snag one of the two Games invited from the South American Semifinals.
One big thing: Although the South American Semifinals will be held online because of the worldwide pandemic, Richelme and Bidarte, who live about 25 minutes away from each other in Argentina, are hoping to go head-to-head during Semifinals. Richelme said he thinks this could be a huge advantage on the other competitors, who might not have another top athlete to push them through each workout.
- Further, two other Semifinals competitors — Tomas Sarmiento and Geronimo Beaudean — also train at Richelme’s gym, so the four Argentinians will be pushing each other through each Semifinals workout.
- “We train together all the time, so it will be very good to do the workouts together,” Richelme said.
Confident, but humble: Both Richelme and Bidarte have all the confidence in the world in their chances of earning one of the two 2021 Games invites, but they also both remain humble and respectful of the men they’re competing against.
- “The Quarterfinals were a great test, and I did well, but I think the Semifinals will be harder. There are less people, so less room to make mistakes,” Bidarte said.
- Richelme added: “We don’t have a (Mat) Fraser or (Rich) Froning here. It’s always changing here. I’m very respectful of the other competitors and I know that CrossFit, because it’s always varied, means that any athlete here could show up and win…But yes, I feel like I’m getting better every year, and I’m trying to earn one of those spots. I think I can make it.”