Win-and-In for Athletes Competing at The Fittest in Cape Town
After almost two years away, the Fittest in Cape Town makes its return to the CrossFit competition space but this time with more on the line than ever before. The Semifinal for the continent of Africa will just send just one athlete from each of the two individual divisions and one from the teams to the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games. It’ll be cut-throat action from the Woodmill Lifestyle Market in Stellenbosch, South Africa June 4-6.
What’s on the line: Along with a Games invite, the top-five finishers in each division will take home prize money from a total prize purse of $45,000 USD. Male individual athletes who finish 2-4 earn a spot to the Last Chance Qualifier that will be held online June 28-July 4.
- First – $5,000
- Second – $4,000
- Third – $3,000
- Fourth – $2,000
- Fifth – $1,000
Who to watch: The Semifinal may not have the big names and compelling storylines that some of the others but due to it having just one Games spot up for grabs in each division that in itself should produce some exciting competition and stories. Both the individual fields had close Quarterfinal races between Games veterans and newcomers looking to make a name for themselves.
Individuals (Women): This field could be a three-woman race for the lone Games spot but don’t be surprised if it’s even more. Five women in the field have appeared at the Games all in 2019 with four of them earning their spot as their countries national champion. Outside of those athletes the field is relatively inexperienced in terms of competition as just seven women have competed at the Regionals. Nine of the athletes are 25 years old or younger including 18-year old Reegan Finkel who will be competing against her 20-year old sister Brady this weekend.
- Michelle Basnett was born in South Africa before moving to the US when she was four years old. The 24-year old will be traveling to South Africa from North Carolina to compete in a live event despite having the option to compete online or in another Semifinal. The reason why is that her odds of winning are greater as evidenced by her Quarterfinal win. She won two events in her Quarterfinal and didn’t have a finish worse than 15th. In the Open she finished 188th worldwide, her best Open finish in her young career.
- Michelle Merand competed at the 2019 Games after she won the 2019 FiCT and finished 41st in her very first Games appearance. A two-time Regional athlete as both an individual and on a team, she placed third in the Quarters just 11 points off the lead. The South African had the continent’s best time in Test 2, finishing the grueling chipper in 18:58.
- Dina Swift has been one of the top athletes from the continent, she was South Africa’s national champion in 2019, earning an invite to the 2019 Games where she placed 98th. This season she finished as the runner-up in the Quarters, eight points behind Basnett, with all her finishes in the top-15 including a win in Test 3 and a second in Test 5.
- Mary Jamieson at 38 years old is a veteran of five Regionals and is looking for her first Games appearance. She had the continent’s second best lift in Test 4 with a four-rep squat of 282 lbs. That finish propelled her to a fourth place finish in the Quarters.
- Dark Horse Picks: It’s a toss-up between Namibia’s Lara Erlank and Egypt’s Aya Fouad. Both competed at the 2019 Games as their respective country’s national champions with Erlank placing 91st and Fouad 102nd. Both have similar skill sets as high-endurance athletes which could benefit them with the programming that is in place at the FiCT.
Individuals (Men): The men’s field features 12 athletes who have competed at the Regional level, specifically the Meridian Regional. Of those athletes, just four have competed at the Games. Five African countries are represented in this division but the South African contingent dominates with 22 individual male qualifiers.
- Jason Smith is considered the favorite to win the FiCT. A veteran of two Games appearances, the 36-year old is the most accomplished CrossFitter in Africa in terms of placement at the Games. In 2017 he finished tenth and then followed that with a 29th place at the 2019 Games. This year he won the Quarterfinals for Africa with four finishes in the top-five including an event win in Test 5. In this year’s Open he ranked 264th worldwide.
- Kealan Henry finished just two points behind Smith in the Quarterfinals but had teh edge in event wins with two. The South African won the first two events of the Africa Quarters and added a second place finish to Smith in Test 5 along with a 10th place in Test 3. In the Open he was the top athlete in Africa, finishing an impressive 83rd worldwide.
- Mohamed Elomda competed at the 2019 Games after earning his spot as Egypt’s national Champion. He would end up 44th in his first and only Games appearance but has competed in multiple Sanctional events since then. In the Quarters he placed fourth in Africa with four finishes in the top-eight including a second in Test 3. The seven-time Egyptian national champion recorded his best Open finish this year when he placed 87th worldwide.
- David Levey may be 43-years old but he can still compete with the young athletes. He has made four Games appearances, two as a Masters athlete and two as an individual from 2012-2013. At the 2018 Games he was the runner-up in the 40-44 division. He is one of the strongest men in the field despite his age as he finished third in Test 4 of the Quarters, front-squatting 377 lbs four times.
- Brandon Jacobs competed at the 2018 Games with CrossFit PBM, he also has two Regional appearances on a team. He was ninth in the Quarters placing as high as 6th in Test 5 with a time of 2:52.
- Dark Horse Pick: Darren Zurnamer is the youngest athlete in the men’s field at just 20-years old but showed he belonged with 7th place finish in the Quarters. He had four finishes in the top-25 and finished 415th in the Open.
Teams: There’s a lot of unknowns in this team field as many of the teams are appearing at a major CrossFit event for the very first time. What we do know is that based on the Quarterfinals there is one dominant team and ten others that are highly competitive with each other.
- Eikestad Mighty Oaks: Coming off a 103rd place finish worldwide, the Eikstad Mighty Oaks out of CrossFit Eikstad continued their strong start to the season with a first place finish in the African Quarterfinals. While no one on their team has been to the Games before, their roster consists of several former regionals athletes, including, Cillie Malan and Jaco Brits.
- CrossFit Tijer Valley: After a second place finish in Quarterfinals, CrossFit Tijer Valley is looking to make a name for themselves this year and potentially punch their ticket to the 2021 CrossFit Games. Their roster is stacked with individual athletes, including two former regionals athletes, and one 2014 Games athlete, Celestie Du Toit.
- Lions Bay CrossFit: For all members of Lions Bay CrossFit, this will be their first time on the competition floor attempting to qualify for the CrossFit Games. Despite that fact, their roster has already been strong enough for a third place finish in the African Quarterfinals.
- Dark Horse Pick: The last time we saw Cape CrossFit Wolfpack, was at the 2018 CrossFit Games when they came in 20th. This year, they finished the Quarterfinals tied for 12th place overall.
What to watch for: For the individuals the programming appears well balanced as the seven workouts cover many different time domains, strength and gymnastics components. Test 2 is an interesting take on a descending rep, ascending weight snatch ladder that requires a buy-in of 150 double-unders.
- The FiCT will be live-streamed on CrossFit’s official website and social media platforms.
- The Morning Chalk Up will be providing recaps and tracking the action as it unfolds. You can follow our coverage on our FiCT event page and on Instagram.