CrossFit Games

Battle Between Justin Medeiros and Pat Vellner for Top of the Podium

October 30, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Athlete's Eye Photography
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It’s a storyline we’ve been waiting to see play out at the Rogue Invitational: the battle between the Fittest Man on Earth, Justin Medeiros, and defending Rogue Invitational champion, Pat Vellner.

As the attention began to focus on Justin Medeiros after he stood on the podium in 3rd place at the 2020 CrossFit Games, only to follow it up with being crowned Fittest Man on Earth in 2021, Vellner crept his way back to the podium, too.

Remind me: After having three consecutive podium finishes in 2016, 2017 and 2018, some may have thought Vellner was past his peak after placing 16th in 2019 and 9th in 2020 — at least until they saw his performance this past year.

  • Vellner placed 2nd overall at the 2021 CrossFit Games.
  • Eight of the Events he took top five finishes — three of them he took first.
  • As for Medeiros, he took seven top five finishes — and although just one of them was a first place finish, he took the overall title of Fittest Man on Earth.

While Medeiros is arguably the most well-rounded athlete, you can almost say the same for Veller unless a water event shows up. Lucky for him, it’s unlikely swimming will be programmed even with the unknown details for Event 7.

So now it’s a battle for the top of the podium between Medeiros and Vellner with just one day left of competition. Here’s a breakdown of the race between the two thus far.

Event 1 GORUCK: Vellner took an early lead as the first athlete to make it to the hill with Medeiros close behind. However, Medeiros was never quite able to close the gap.

By the time Vellner completed his final rope climb on the second set and made it through the over unders, the gap only continued to separate first and second place, giving Vellner the top spot over Medeiros by 25 seconds.

Event 2 Bella Complex: When it comes to barbell complexes, Vellner and Medeiros are within the same playing field. In the 2021 Open barbell complex, Vellner hit 287 pounds with Medeiros close behind at 278 pounds. But during this event, Medeiros had a bit of an advantage as he was positioned to lift after Vellner, giving him an opportunity to adjust his weights based on other athletes.

In the end, the order paid off for Medeiros lifting 352 pounds placing him third overall with Vellner just behind him lifting 342 pounds placing 8th.

Event 3, Echo Burner: If you watched these two athletes in Event 3 at the center of your screen, it would have seemed like they were only competing against each other. Medeiros finished his thrusters, Vellner finished his thrusters. Medeiros got off the bike, Vellner got off the bike. Medeiros stayed ahead of Vellner just slightly throughout the entire workout.

Medeiros took second in the workout leading Vellner by 15 seconds as he finished 5th. Medeiros’ second place finish keeps him at the number one spot overall, and Vellner falls just slightly, now to third place overall.

Event 4, Concept2: Medeiros and Vellner going back and forth yet again. Vellner finishing first on the SkiErg, Medeiros finishing first on the GHD sit-ups, then literally running side by side on the first hill run. Where Vellner would take the lead on the Erg, Medeiros’ speed on the GHD’s was unmatched and he’d almost instantly catch up — and eventually — pulled ahead.

Come round three, Medeiros held his lead through the round and the rest of the workout. Medeidors would inch out Vellner by just five seconds taking first and second place in both the workout and leaderboard overall.

Event 5, The Mule: This is an Event I think both fans and Vellner have been waiting to see this weekend. It’s a repeat Event from the 2019 Rogue Invitational that not only does Vellner have experience with, but he took the event win. So can he do it again but this time, with Medeiros breathing down his neck?

Medeiros was first to the the burpee pull-ups with Vellner close behind. The two athletes went rep for rep by the set of the 15 deadlifts as Vellner begins to pull ahead. By the last set of 9 deadlifts, Vellner expanded the gap and took the workout once again for an Event win — something he needed to do to end the day.

The big picture: Headed into the final day of competition, Medeiros is your overall leader with Vellner sitting just behind him in second place. The point spread — however — is pretty substantial with Medeiros still leading Vellner by 35 points. The question is, will two events be enough to close the gap between Medeiros and Vellner?

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