Michelle Merand Wins “Battle of Michelles” in South Africa
Heading into the final day of competition at the Fittest in Cape Town Semifinals in Stellenbosch, South Africa, Michelle Merand and Michelle Basnett sat atop the leaderboard together, tied with 356 points.
But after a two-day back-and-forth battle, where they took turns beating each other on the first four events, Sunday was all about 32-year-old Merand, who bested the 25-year-old Basnett on both events and went on to earn the single CrossFit Games invite from Africa.
The details: Event 5 featured 100 wall balls followed by a chipper of handstand walking, rowing, handstand push-ups and toes-to-bar. Merand took an easy event win, while Basnett, a rookie at last summer’s Games, was more than two minutes behind. She placed seventh, her lowest finish of the competition
- Merand continued to pull away from Basnett in the final event, featuring chest-to-bar pull-ups and dumbbell squat snatches, finishing second overall in the event, while Basnett finished tied for 12th, dropping her to third overall in the competition
Remind me: The Michelle rivalry pre-dates this competition, as two Michelle’s have taken turns beating each other over the course of the last two seasons.
- In 2021, Merand, who was born and raised in South Africa and owns FitBox TygerValley in Cape Town, was second in South Africa in the Open, while Basnett placed closely behind in third. Basnett then went on to top the Quarterfinals leaderboard over Merand, who placed third. And then at last year’s Semifinals, Basnett, who was born in South Africa but has been living in the United States since she was four, snagged the one qualification spot to the CrossFit Games over Merand, who, once again, placed third.
- This season, it was Merand who topped the Quarterfinals leaderboard over Basnett, who was second, and after six events this weekend, punched her ticket to compete in her second CrossFit Games—Merand placed 41st in 2019.
Though Merand might feel differently about her mindset now that she is heading back to Madison, WI to compete alongside the fittest women in the world, she told the Morning Chalk Up last year that her journey in CrossFit “is more about going to the Games.”
- “It’s about trying to see, literally, how far I can push myself…I want to see where my limit is and how far I can get,” she said.