CrossFit Games

After 18 Months, 42 Athletes Excited About Return to Live Competition

July 22, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Kelsey Goodwin (instagram.com/kgoodphoto)
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While 19 men and 19 women on next week’s individual CrossFit Games roster had the chance to dip their toes in live competition waters again in recent weeks at their Semifinal event, the other 42 qualifiers are still awaiting their return to live, in-person competition.

  • For many of the 21 men and 21 women who qualified through an online Semifinal or the Last Chance Qualifier, Madison is set to be their first live competition in 18 months. And in some instances, even longer. 

What they’re saying: Some say it’s going to be an adjustment after being online for so long, while others aren’t concerned about the hiatus. But across the board, the athletes couldn’t be happier to return to normalcy.

  • After 18 months without a live competition, six-time Games athlete Patrick Vellner said “it feels crazy…It’s going to be readjusting to a different style of competition, but you can’t beat live competition,” he said, adding that he’s hoping familiarity will kick in, just like “riding a bike.”
  • Ultimately, though, Vellner couldn’t be happier about abandoning the online format. “I think racing ghosts is hard. You never know if you’re in first or last or if you should dial it up or dial it back so there (are) challenges that come with online competition that don’t exist in a live setting,” he said. 
  • European qualifiers Jacqueline Dahlstrom and Gabriela Migala, both 2019 Games athletes, said they aren’t concerned about any adjustment challenges in returning to head-to-head competition in front of a crowd again. “I don’t have time for that,” said Dahlstrom. Instead, she’s simply excited to feel “the adrenaline of being on a competition floor.”
  • “I think it will be fine,” mimicked Migala, whose last live event was the Norwegian Throwdown in February 2020. She said she’s most excited about having others next to her while competing again.
  • Larissa Cunha, who qualified out of the Brazil CrossFit Championships, admitted being back in person next week will be “scary,” but also really exciting. “It’s a mix of feelings but I am extremely happy to be here,” said Cunha. She originally qualified to the CrossFit Games last year before the qualification process was reshuffled due to the pandemic.
  • Canadian Emily Rolfe, an Atlas Games qualifier, is in a similar situation. She, too, had her original Games invite stripped from her last year when the pandemic hit. Experiencing that heartbreak means this year is just pure excitement for Rolfe, and especially because it’s “in real life instead of online and via video,” she said. 
  • Finally, Jeff Adler, another Atlas Games qualifier who did get to experience live competition at last year’s CrossFit Games Finals, said for him, it’s less about being at a live event and more about feeling normal again. “Finally a full field of athletes for a full weekend,” Adler said. 

What they learned: Having a worldwide pandemic strip them of live competitions for a season-and-a-half has also taught these athletes not to take any experience in the sport for granted, and to cherish every opportunity just a little bit more.

  • “Last year taught me to truly enjoy every single moment during competition,” said rookie Caroline Conners. “My parents haven’t been able to travel to see me compete since Regionals 2018, so I’m so excited to be able to see them out in the crowd.”
  • “Last year really showed me and opened my eyes to how much I enjoy the process of training and competing. With all that taken away…it really showed me that this is where I want to be and what I want to be doing,” said Rookie competitor Sydney Michalyshen.
  • Cunha added: “I fought so hard to get a spot in the CrossFit Games (last year) and when I really did, it was not mine anymore. I didn’t have the chance to live what I conquered. I realized that moments are opportunities and you have to live like this is the last one that you have.”

The individual competition at the CrossFit Games kicks off Wednesday. Here’s how to watch

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