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Roman Khrennikov off to Florida to Train with Brute Strength

March 10, 2022 by
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Russian CrossFit athlete and potential podium threat Roman Khrennikov has made his way to the US via a visa, and is now on his way to Naples, FL after first arriving in Madison, WI.

Khrennikov, who made a split second decision to leave his native Russia last week, and his pregnant wife, will be training alongside Dallin Pepper, Emma Cary, James Sprague and Phil Toon at Brute Strength.

Matt Bruce, the CEO and Olympic weightlifting coach of Brute Strength, spoke to Morning Chalk Up about the news and the fact that Khrennikov will now be training with three of the top eight elite men heading into a potential CrossFit Games run.

  • “After training Roman remotely for more than five years, it’s great to be able to finally get him with his team training together in an atmosphere where we know he’s going to thrive in all the way through Semifinals.”

Khrennikov will then most likely have to travel to the Asian semifinal (the Far East Throwdown in Busan, South Korea from June 3-5) to qualify for the Games, however his exceptional circumstances and high profile may push CrossFit to bend the rules for him, much like they did with Tia-Clair Toomey, who had relocated to the US but was potentially going to have to qualify for the Games via her native Australia, among a handful of other athletes during Semifinals last season. 

Bruce confirmed this is the most likely scenario, however they are waiting for confirmation from CrossFit Home Office. 

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.

In an interview earlier this week, Khrennikov’s manager Snorri Baron Jonsson explained the tense and trying situation the 27-year-old finds himself in. 

  • “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.”

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.

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