Roman Khrennikov Arrives in US
Russian CrossFit athlete and potential Games podium threat Roman Khrennikov has arrived in the US after securing a visa to enter the country for any competition for the next five years.
Khrennikov and his manager Snorri Baron Jonsson spoke with the Morning Chalk Up after Roman arrived in Madison, WI where he is staying with friends and training.
Remind me: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign nation, has been almost universally condemned by the Western world and has resulted in unprecedented sanctions against the country from numerous nations. This has spilled over to private businesses and international companies who have announced they are closing stores, cutting ties and severing business relations with the country, which is led by president Vladimir Putin.
Explaining the tense geopolitical situation Khrennikov now faces, Jonsson said:
- “He is sad about the situation and is worried about the people in Ukraine. Roman has been a long time ambassador for an Ukrainian CrossFit endemic tech company and he has friends over there so it is absolutely clear where his heart is at in this matter. He was one of the first Russians across all sports to speak his mind, which he did in a post on his social media the day after the invasion started. Doing posts like this is now, as I understand it, banned by law in his country and it can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. This understandably puts stress on him as far as addressing anything further related to this situation.”
Last week Khrennikov had to make a “split second” decision to leave his home as news was breaking that flights in and out of Russia were being banned as countries shut down their airspace to the nation.
- “After four years of trying, [and] to have finally received the visa, I did not want to take any chances. I realized that the only realistic chance I had to salvage my 2022 CrossFit Games season was to travel to America right away and stay there for the rest of the season. It was a hard decision for me for many different reasons.“, Khrennikov said.
On the topic of Krennikov‘s travel to America, Jonsson added:
- “Roman had to leave behind his pregnant wife, family and friends with no guarantees whether embarking on this journey would actually work out and furthermore with no guarantees on what situations they would be faced with in his absence. Their first child is set to be born in a few weeks and Roman will not be able to be present for that or to be there to assist his wife as she recovers from giving birth. This is an enormous sacrifice for him to make and a definite highlight of his life that he will not be able to experience. However he and his wife made this decision collectively as she 100 percent supports him in his sporting journey.“
Despite all of this, Khrennikov remains in a positive state given his situation.
- “I am in good health and I am grateful to have finally arrived in America. For the next few weeks I intend to travel around. I am going to visit my coach (Nick Fowler of Brute Strength) and train with him in person for the first time. I am also going to train with a few athletes that I have always wanted to train with but haven‘t had the chance to until now.“
One big thing: Khrennikov is widely considered to be the fittest athlete to never have competed at the CrossFit Games in person, despite qualifying for the Games four years in a row. In 2020, he was able to compete in the online portion of the Games, finishing a respectable 13th. His in-person match-ups against similar Games athletes, however, have been much more impressive.
- 2021 Dubai CrossFit Championship – 1st
- 2021 Madrid CrossFit Championship – 1st
- 2021 Butcher’s Classic (MM Team) – 1st
- 2021 CrossFit Last Chance Qualifier – 1st
- 2021 Russian Functional Fitness Championships – 1st
- 2019 CrossFit Italian Showdown – 1st
- 2019 Dubai CrossFit Championship – 3rd
- 2019 Filthy 150 – 2nd
How he secured his visa: Jonsson said earlier this year that Khrennikov, who won the 2021 Dubai CrossFit Championship this past December, adding to a long list of impressive victories outside of the US, was approached by gym owners Pat and Roza Giles, who run Pat’s Gym in Madison, Wisconsin. He said they took a “special interest in Roman’s story and offered him a helping hand. A friendship was formed and the process that today proved fruitful was started.”
Khrennikov has tried multiple routes in the past to obtain a visa to attend the CrossFit Games, including applying for both a tourist visa and an athlete’s visa. CrossFit LLC has provided assistance on his behalf, writing letters detailing his role as an athlete and intent to compete at the CrossFit Games.