Kuwaiti Nasser Alruwayeh the Only Surprise at the Far East Throwdown After Day 1
The opening day of the inaugural Far East Throwdown Semifinal provided little in terms of surprises inside the 2nd Exhibition Hall of BEXCO in Busan, South Korea. With a total of six NOBULL CrossFit Games invitations on the line (two each for each division) it appears the favorites heading into the competition have a firm grasp of those bids after a strong Day 1.
Leaders lead: As mentioned before, the favorites to win in each division not only lead the competition but all three swept their events on the opening day with each claiming 200 points at the conclusion of the day.
Roman Khrennikov looks in top form as he prepares himself for what could possibly be his first in-person appearance at the Games. Most impressive in his performance was him showing off his increase in strength, an aspect of his game that has been a hole. Building off his strong performance in the max snatch at the Dubai CrossFit Championship and the “Other Total” from the Quarterfinals, he tied for the biggest lift in the “Barbell Complex” in Busan with an impressive lift of 330 LBs.
On the women’s side Seungyeon Choi is continuing to build on her strong season. In the opening event, “Crossing the Gwang-An Bridge”, a triplet of rowing, muscle-ups and hang snatches, the South Korean put on a show for the home crowd as she won handedly, finishing :28 second ahead of Shahad Budebs. In the “Barbell Complex” she hit all three of her lifts and won with a final weight of 215 LBs, a lift that she put up rather easily.
KT CrossFit Kolesnikov Team is looking to join Mayhem Freedom and CrossFit Reykjavik as the only teams to win all of their Semifinal events and they got off to a great start. They already hold a 25-point lead over CrossFit Yas Black after winning three events on Friday. The Russian team, made up partly of athletes from the Asia Invitational team that won last year and qualified for the Games but couldn’t compete due to visa issues, has looked dominant in the early stages of the season and could continue that moving forward in this competition.
A contender from Kuwait: With Games spots going to the top-2 finishing athletes and teams in each division, it’s important to get off to a good start on Day 1 if an athlete is a contender for one of those invites. The favorites to win the event seem to be locked in for those Madison invites; however on the men’s side a new contender has made himself known by having a nearly perfect Day 1. Kuwaiti Nasser Alruwayeh is just four points out of Khrennikov’s lead and an athlete who has seemingly come out of nowhere.
The 29-year old is the tiny Middle East country’s three-time national champion and this past year recorded his highest Open finish, placing 411th worldwide and ninth in Asia. Standing six foot and weighing 220 LBs, he is a former WWE wrestler who competed on the NXT brand for the wrestling company. In 2017, he was the first Kuwaiti wrestler ever signed to a WWE contract.
Since leaving WWE in 2019 he has turned those show muscles into functional ones as evidenced by his performance on Friday. He placed second in “Crossing the Gwang-An Bridge” behind Khrennikov by just :06 seconds. The workout was one that Khrennikov would normally leave the field behind due to the Russians rowing and bar-cycling prowess. In the “Barbell Complex”, Alruwayeh matched Khrennikov with a lift of 330 LBs to tie for the event win.
Alruwayeh has a 28-point lead over the third place athlete Artur Semenov and a 32-point lead over Games veteran and one of the Semifinal favorites Aleksandr Ilin. With four events to go and “moving day” looming tomorrow, can the Kuwaiti hold off the field and push Khrennikov like he did on Day 1?