2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games Invitations On the Line At The Asia Invitational
Six automatic 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games invitations are on the line this weekend for the athletes competing at the CrossFit Asia Invitational on June 18-20. The online Semifinal will send the top two individual men, women and teams to Madison, WI to represent the continent.
What’s on the line: Along with a Games invite, the top-two finishers in each division will take home prize money from a total prize purse of $45,000 USD. Individual athletes who finish 3-5 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 features the top athletes from Asia including many who have appeared at the Games in 2019 as their respective country’s national champion. The Russians in all three divisions are the early favorites to secure most of the Games invites but look for athletes from Korea and China to make a push for a top-two finish as well as the LCQ spots that are up for grabs.
Individuals (Women): The likelihood that the two Games invites go to a rookie is rather high as none of the women in the top-10 have competed at a level above Regionals. Of those women in the top-10, six are Russian. Just four women in the whole field have competed at the Games, all as national champions at the 2019 Games.
- Aleksandra Buzunova won the Quarterfinals thanks to four finishes in the top-10 including a win in the final workout to clinch the title. The 27-year old Russian has some official sanctioned CrossFit competitions under her belt, in 2019 she competed at the Asia CrossFit Championships where she placed 18th and in 2018 she was a member of the Redyar team that competed at the Pacific Regional. Along with her top finish in the Quarters, Buzunova has had success this year in online competitions, placing 165th in the Worldwide Open which was the fourth best placing from Asia.
- Seungyeon Choi was just six points away from joining Tia-Clair Toomey and Jay Crouch as the only athletes to win both their continents Open and Quarterfinal titles. At just 22-years old, the Korean placed 44th overall in the Open, a huge jump from her 740th placing in 2020. As a 20 year old she competed at the Asia CrossFit Championships, finishing 14th.
- Svetlana Kubyshkina put up the top score in the Open for Russia, finishing 79th in the Open with three top-100 finishes. She parlayed that success into a third place finish in the Quarters, finishing in the top-10 in four of the five tests.
- Svetlana Veselova competed in her first Open this year at 33-years old and turned in an impressive 272nd worldwide ranking that was helped by her 64th place in 21.3. In the Quarters she broke out with three top-10 finishes including the best time in Asia for Test 2, finishing the grueling chipper in 18:20.
- Dark Horse Pick: Yuko Sakuyama shouldn’t be considered a darkhorse with her depth of experience. The four-time “Fittest in Japan” has made six Regional appearances but each time has come up short in her bid to make the Games. Now 34, she hasn’t let her age slow her down this year as she recorded her best finish in the Open in her career, finishing 69th worldwide. She followed that up with a sixth place in the Quarters. She should be in line for a LCQ spot but don’t be surprised if she finishes in the top-2 and finally punches her ticket to the Games.
Individuals (Men): Unlike the women’s field, the men’s field has a depth of Games and Sanctional experience. Five athletes have competed at the Games with one of those athletes having multiple Games invites under his belt. Half of the top-10 athletes from the Quarters are from Russia including three of the top-5 spots.
- Roman Khrennikov is the standard-bearer for Russian athletes. A multiple Games qualifier but has only competed in one Games due to visa issues. Last year he was able to compete in the online stage of the Games where he placed 13th. He has competed in numerous Sanctionals the last two years including winning the Italian Showdown in 2019 and carding top-five finishes at the Dubai CrossFit Championship, Filthy150 and Strength In Depth. In the Quarters he finished fourth, matching his Open finish in Asia.
- Aleksandre Ilin was the Russian national champion in 2019 and earned his way to the Games that year where he placed 56th. This year he just missed out on once again being the “Fittest in Russia” as he placed second and a career-best 27th in the worldwide Open. He won the Asia Quarters thanks to three top-10 finishes.
- Stas Solodov surprised many when at 36-years old he bested Khrennikov and Ilin for the title of “Fittest Russian” this year in the Open. He would go on to finish 13th worldwide in the Open including picking up a runner-up finish in 21.2. In the Quarters he dropped to fifth but has put everyone in Asia on notice with his impressive Open performance.
- Ant Haynes burst onto the Games scene with an impressive 27th finish in his rookie appearance. The two-time Chinese national champion from Hong Kong was set for another breakout campaign last year before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the rest of the season. He finished 50th in the Open for the Asia region this year and placed 10th in the Quarters.
- Dark Horse Pick: Zhenhua Zhou took the mantle of “Fittest in China” from Haynes this year in the Open, placing 66th worldwide. In the Quarters he struggled, finishing 17th, but look for him to push for a LCQ spot as the programming favors him, especially his ability to move heavy weight.
Teams: There are a lot of unknowns in the team divisions as there are as many as 10 teams that could compete for the two Games spots.
- Team Dubai: While Team Dubai consists mostly of rookies, team member, Shuhad Budebs is a Games competitor (84th in 2019) and two time fittest woman in the United Arab Emirates (2019 and 2020). After winning the Team Quarterfinals in Asia with only 14 points on the leaderboard total after five workouts, they stand to be a strong contender for a Games ticket if not the top of the podium.
- Kolesnikov Team: After losing to Team Dubai by just one point during the Team Quarterfinals, Kolesnikov Team is not only looking to be the first Russian team at the Games this year, but also to top the podium. They not only performed strongly during the Quarterfinals in Asia, but also during the Open this year, where they took third place in the world, just behind Invictus and Mayhem, the two top teams this year. If Kolesnikov team makes the Games this year, they look not only to make history, but also make a mark in the Games landscape as potentially being the first team from Asia to finish on the podium at the Games if their Open performance is any predictor of their future success.
- Dark Horse Pick: If the Sour Patch Kids team qualifies for the Games, they will be the first team from Singapore to do so. However, despite the affiliate’s rookie status as a team, the roster is anything but. Two time Australian Games athlete, Aidan Chemaly will compete alongside two time UK regionals athlete, Sam Ventrice, to hopefully lock in their spot at the 2021 CrossFit Games.
What to watch for: Due to the Semifinal’s online format, CrossFit has programmed the events. The six events that Dave Castro has prepared for the individuals and teams is well-balanced. Look for some impressive times in Event four and in Event six, “Grettel”.
- The Morning Chalk Up will be providing recaps and tracking the action as it unfolds. You can follow our coverage on our Asia Invitational event page and on Instagram.