2022 Torian Pro Semifinal: Day 1 Takeaways
The first Semifinal of the 2022 CrossFit season has kicked-off “Down Under” at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane, Australia.
The reigning, defending five-time Fittest Woman on Earth Tia-Clair Toomey made her first appearance in over three years in front of her home crowd and showed she is in typical dominating form. On the men’s side there’s no clear front-runner after Day 1 as a host of individuals are challenging for the three NOBULL CrossFit Games spots. Here are five takeaways from the first day of competition.
1. A tale of two Rickys: One of the major storylines at Torian Pro and in CrossFit was Ricky Garard’s return from his four-year suspension. How would he do in his first CrossFit event in front of his home crowd?
The answer was: nerves got the best of him as he was reported to have had issues keeping food down during the morning and it appeared to have played a part in his event 1 performance. He came out aggressively in “King Arthur,” a long chipper for which Garard would typically be a frontrunner. He started to falter late and when he got to the final set of 15 for overhead squats he struggled mightily and finished in sixth.
He immediately took to his back and had difficulties standing up and needed assistance off the floor. He was examined by medical personnel and was given electrolytes. How that event would affect him for the second event, 2014 Regional Workout 5, was unknown until he stepped back on the competition floor, where he showed no ill effects and promptly won the event in record time. With nerves seemingly behind him and sitting in third place, just eight points behind the leaders, he seems destined to make a return run to Madison, WI.
2. Not a repeat: When CrossFit announced that Regional Workout 5 from the 2014 Games season was one of the workouts they programmed universally for all 10 Semifinals, many were wondering how much faster the times would be eight years later. Well, after the first Semifinal of the season, the answer to that question is much faster, albeit with an asterisk.
At least in the case at Torian and the Lowlands Throwdown, the event was not programmed as the original. In 2014, athletes had to advance a chess piece after finishing their rope climb. In the case of Torian the organizers got rid of the advancement of the chess piece by the athletes and essentially replaced it with a shuttle run which automatically made the times faster and changed the workout into an all-out sprint. In 2014 the athletes had to slow down to move the piece.
Garard set a new record in the event with a time of 2:49.04, smashing the previous record held by James Newbury who set it in 2014 with a time of 3:31. Newbury bested his time as well, finishing in 3:00 which was fourth in the field.
Whether Garard’s time stands as the new record of this “repeat” event remains to be seen, but if anything we can expect is that we will have a number of male athletes finish under 3:00.
3. Bringing the “Energy”: Last year the teams coming out of the Oceania Semifinal proved that they were contenders, as all three qualifying teams finished in the top-11 at the 2021 Games. This year the team division in Oceania had some reshuffling as athletes from some of the top teams disbanded and formed new squads. But after Day 1, it was a veteran team that stood atop the leaderboard. CrossFit Urban Energy holds a 12-point lead in the competitive field with an event 1 win and a runner-up finish in event 2.
An uncharacteristic communication error coupled with a gutsy performance by the Fowler brothers of CrossFit Selwyn kept Urban Energy from a sweep of the day 1 events. However the team of couples Johann and Katelin Van Zyl and Adam and Jay-Lee Mansy have been training exclusively as a one unit for over two years now and their familiarity with each other makes them the favorite despite the Open and Quarterfinal performances of Selwyn and CrossFit EXF who are in a three-way tie with CrossFit Awaside behind Urban Energy.
4. Who will be the two?: With apologies to the rest of the women’s field, Toomey has all but locked up her Games invite with yet another dominating performance, winning the first two events. We have covered how it’s an injustice that the Oceania region has just three Games invitations considering the wealth of Games talent in both the men’s and women’s field.
This year’s women’s field has a number of Games veterans and hopefuls fighting for two spots. Jamie Simmonds, fresh off shoulder surgery, is one of those athletes. She had a promising first day and showed no ill effects from her injury, recording two third place finishes. But she has just a four point lead over Kara Saunders who is considered by many as one of the few athletes who can challenge Toomey.
Not far behind those two are three of the top up-and-coming athletes with 22-year old Georgia Pryer eight points behind Saunders in fourth. Gemma Hauck, at 23 years old is in fifth followed by 2021 Games athlete Ellie Turner (24-years old) in sixth.
5. A Kiwi makes his move: The Oceania region has long been dominated by the Australians as it’s the most populous country in the region. The last two seasons has seen New Zealand introduce some young talent who look to represent their country at the Games. Bayley Martin leads that group of young Kiwi men. The 22-year old who trains out of the same gym as fellow young guns Luke and Ben Fowler, CrossFit Selwyn.
He was impressive in day 1, picking up two top-3 finishes and currently is tied for the lead with Aussie Jay Crouch with 188 points. Can the 2017 Games teen athlete continue his trend with a talented field of Games veterans on his heels?