CrossFit Games

Larissa Cunha is Legit, not just in Latin America, but Among the Best in the World

June 14, 2021 by
Credit: Marcelo Kodato (instagram.com/marcelo.kodato/)
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After being “100 percent invested in the sport,” since 2019 when she narrowly missed qualifying to the CrossFit Games, Larissa Cunha all but dominated the Brazil CrossFit Championships on the weekend, finishing with 560 points, 32 points ahead of Argentinian athlete Sasha Nievas.

  • “We have been waiting for this moment for a long time because we have been working together and I have developed really well since 2019, “ said Cunha after the Quarterfinals about the work she and her coach Bernardo Camargo have been putting in. 
  • “We have been very close to getting a ticket to the Games. It wasn’t my time yet, but we have continued to work. And work a lot.”

Finally her time: As impressive as Cunha’s performances were at the Brazil CrossFit Championships, they’re even more impressive when you compare her scores against the notoriously stronger athletes from the two European Semifinals. 

  • Cunha versus Europe: Cunha’s scores — which considering the online format can be directly compared to the European athletes — would have earned her a ticket to the CrossFit Games at the CrossFit German Throwdown. She would have placed fourth, just 20 points behind Katrin Davidsdottir.
  • Meanwhile, Cunha’s Semifinals performance would have put her in a points tie for sixth with Karin Freyova at the CrossFit Lowlands Throwdown, good enough to have earned her the first spot in the Last Chance Qualifier. 

One big thing: Cunha’s time on Event 1 — Friendly Fran — is the best in the world so far, and by a fair amount on such a short workout. 

  • She completed the 63 thrusters and 63 chest-to-bar pull-ups in 3:43. The next best time on the weekend was Laura Horvath’s 4:06.
  • More context: Friendly Fran made its debut at last year’s online CrossFit Games, also as the opening workout of the competition, and the only one female athlete who went faster than Cunha was four-time CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey (3:40).
Credit: Felipe Torres (instagram.com/felipetorres___/)

Worth noting: Cunha wasn’t the only impressive Latin American performer on the weekend. The Fourmixx Brazil team that won the Brazil CrossFit Championships would also have fared well against the powerhouse European teams. Their scores were good enough to have won the CrossFit Lowlands Throwdown and place second behind CrossFit Oslo Wolfpack at the CrossFit German Throwdown. 

Why this matters: Historically, Latin American athletes have not been contenders on the world stage, so these performances, both by Cunha and Fourmixx Brazil, are evidence of their potential rise in the sport. 

  • From 2011 to 2014, not a single athlete who qualified to the Games from Latin America ever placed in the top 40.
  • Then from 2015 to 2017, no Latin American athlete even qualified for the Games. During those years, Latin American regionals qualifiers competed for spots against the American athletes in the South Regional. 
  • Gaining exposure: In 2018, CrossFit LLC reintroduced a purely Latin American region. Mexican Brenda Castro earned the spot to the Games, where she became the first Latin American qualifier to break the top 40. She was 34th. 
  • The following year, in 2019, the national champion from each country qualified out of the Open, so there were a number of Latin American competitors who gained Games experience. The top Latin American woman in 2019 was Simona Quintana from Chile (36th).
  • On the rise: Last year, Argentinian Melina Rodriguez placed an unprecedented 28th in the world in the Open. She went on to have a major breakthrough for Latin America when she finished 17th at the online Games, the highest finish in history by a Latin American woman.

The big picture: While Cunha has yet to prove herself at the Games, her performances so far this season — not just during Semifinals, but also during both the Open, where she was 23rd worldwide, and during Quarterfinals, where she put up world-class scores such as a 271-pound four-rep max front squat — make a strong case both for Cunha’s abilities, and ultimately for Latin America’s rise in the sport. 

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