Lazar and Luka Đukić: Brothers and CrossFit Games Competitors
At the end of the CrossFit German Throwdown, a well-known name sat on top of the leaderboard: six-time CrossFit Games athlete Jonne Koski. But behind him, in second and third place, were two less-familiar names, brothers Lazar and Luka Đukić.
One big thing: While Lazar may be familiar — he has been crowned the Fittest in Serbia four years in a row, and 2021 will be his third time qualifying for the Games — Luka is a newer face in the field.
- “Most projections were for me to be inside the top five,” says Lazar about the Semifinals leaderboard. “And for Luka, nobody projected him to be inside the top five, because he was 25th out of 30 going inside the German Throwdown.”
- Luka, battling a torn meniscus, says that he was still healing going into the Open and Quarterfinals. “Basically, every squat that we had to do during the Open and Quarterfinals were too hard, and that was part of why I finished so low going into the Semis,” he says.
- “With the front squat being the last test… it was just too hard. We had 180 pistols in the Quarterfinals, and when you have a torn meniscus, that’s a movement you’re hoping not to see,” Luka continues.
Lazar gave a dominant performance during the online Semifinal, with all of his finishes in the top 10. Luka ranked outside the top 10 in two workouts but was confident: if he could qualify for Semifinals with a torn meniscus, he could make the Games.
- “We knew that if Luka was placing good after day one, he would probably make it. And then, after day one, I was second and he was sixth… he started jumping all over the place,” Lazar laughs.
- “Day two he stayed in 6th. And we knew his two best events were coming… so he crushed day three. From sixth, we were expecting maybe fifth, but he jumped to third,” Lazar continues.
- After qualifying, the Đukić sat down and discussed their experience with The Bottom Line.
Oh, brother: Lazar brought CrossFit to Luka after learning about the sport during an exchange to the United States. During that time, Lazar was living with one of the first Serbian CrossFit competitors who one day said to him: “Let’s do MURPH.”
- Lazar, a water polo player and bodybuilder at the time, says he got “crushed” and didn’t even finish the workout. “When I lost, I was like ‘You will never beat me at this again,’” he jokes.
- Every day, during 30-minute breaks at his job as a lifeguard, Lazar practiced a movement — double-unders, kipping pull-ups, handstand walks — before trying MURPH again, this time, crushing his competitor.
Lazar returned to Serbia, bought equipment, and taught the sport to Luka, who was getting back in shape after breaking his leg.
- “I started doing CrossFit with [Lazar] and then I fell in love,” Luka says.
The brothers don’t follow the same programming and typically don’t train together. “But we’re there for each other in the gym,” Lazar says, “We keep each other company.”
- “We are different athletes, you know? We shouldn’t be following the same program, because he has his strengths and I have my strengths,” Lazar continues.
- “You can’t imagine how competitive we were, since being kids,” Lazar says. “You don’t want to lose to your brother, he is younger. And he feels like he needs to push to get his older brother, you know? It’s a healthy brotherly competition.”
- “We found we were pushing too hard when we trained against each other every day,” Luka adds.
Working towards the CrossFit Games, however, Lazar expects that he and Luka will train together more frequently. “We are getting close to that spot that we have the same weaknesses and same strengths,” he explains.
The Games: The brothers’ main concern, after qualifying, was not the competition. It was their visas.
- There were no visa appointments open for Serbian travel to the U.S. until 2023. The brothers said they did whatever they could to get an appointment, because “it’s a really big thing for our country, there are not many countries that aren’t the United States [at the Games].”
- On July 1, the brothers were given visa approval.
Even before their visa approval, Lazar and Luka started ramping up their training. Lazar, who has prepared for the Games before, says it is the “most fun training you can do… a lot of running outside, a lot of swimming in the open water, a lot of event sessions. For the online event, it’s mostly thrusters, burpees, pull-ups, rowing, whatever. Here is stuff that I’m pretty good at, the unknown and the unknowable.”
- At the Games, Lazar is hoping to place in the top 10. “My goal, for sure, is rookie of the year. From there we will see,” he says.
- Luka plans to use this year to “go slow and see what the CrossFit Games is like, what it feels like, and what you need to be there.” At only 22-years-old, he is younger than many athletes and plans to use this year to build his plan for the next 10.
- “I want to go and see if I can win some events and see where that puts me, and then when I see what I need to work on and what it actually takes to be in the top three or on top of the podium, I want to go back and work even harder,” Luka says.
2021 will be the first in-person Games appearance for the brothers, which both say feels “amazing.”
- “Taking the floor with your brother at the highest level, I think that’s just amazing, and we will be the first from Serbia to compete on the Men’s side at the Games,” says Luka.
- “I just got goosebumps,” Lazar says, after being asked what it means to attend the Games with his brother. “You can’t imagine how much it means for our family, for the two of us, it’s amazing, just unbelievable.”