Newcomers Highlight Podium at Far East Throwdown
An exciting weekend came to a close at the 2nd Exhibition Hall of BEXCO in Busan, South Korea on Sunday. Champions were crowned at the inaugural Far East Throwdown with all three division champions and their respective runner-ups receiving invitations to compete at the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games in Madison, WI.
Roman Khrennikov, Seungyeon Choi and KT CrossFit Kolesnikov Team led their divisions from start to finish leaving no doubt in their positions, being crowned the “Fittest” in the Asia region. Joining the individual champions in Madison are a pair of Games rookies, Kuwait’s Nasser Alruwayeh and Turkey’s Seher Kaya. CrossFit Yas Black will represent the well-known affiliate at the Games after a five year hiatus.
Roman at the Games
Roman Khrennikov is no stranger to qualifying for the Games, this is his fifth-straight Games invite, but has technically only competed at the Games once and that was in 2020 during the online stage where he placed 13th.
After a nearly perfect Semifinal where he won four of the six workouts and having no finishes outside the top-4, the question remains if the Russian will be able to re-enter the United States under the terms of his recently issued Visa. If there is no issue, then expect Khrennikov to be considered a podium contender and someone who every athlete will have eyes on.
His performance on Sunday was evidence of that as he won both events by over :20 seconds and won the overall title by 32 points. The Semifinal win is his seventh-straight victory in a live, in-person competition dating back to the 2019 Italian Showdown.
Alruwayeh and Kaya each did what they needed to do on Sunday to punch their tickets to Madison. For Alruwayeh, he held just a four point lead over Russian Artur Semenov at the end of Saturday’s competition. The former WWE wrestler gave himself some breathing room in the opening event of Sunday, placing third in the “Far East Chipper” while Semenov finished seventh.
The Kuwaiti then went out on the competition floor and recorded his sixth top-5 finish to secure his first-ever Games invite. Alruwayeh is the first-ever Kuwaiti to secure a Games invite through an in-person Games qualifying competition.
On the women’s side, Kristin Holte disciple Seher will be making her first Games appearance after placing second, 52 points ahead of South Korea’s Dawon Jung. It was Kaya who finally toppled Choi and snapped her event winning streak with a perfect final day of competition. She won the opening workout by :15 second over Jung before dominating the field in the final workout by almost :45 seconds over Choi.
Like Alruwayeh, the 24-year old Kaya is the first-ever Turkish athlete to qualify for the Games through an in-person qualifying competition.
Choi just came short of joining Tia-Clair Toomey as the only individual athlete to sweep all six events at their Semifinal. Choi placed third and second respectively on the final day to secure her second-straight Games invite and her first major competition title.
On the team side, KT CrossFit Kolesnikov Team also came up short in their bid for perfection as they placed second in the final event of the day, just :13 seconds behind event winner CrossFit Alioth. Something to note however is that the Far East is so far the only Semifinal to have seven scored events. The team scored 695 out of 700 points.
The Last Chance Qualifier
Six individual athletes will now move onto the Last Chance Qualifier. Places third through fifth receive invites to the LCQ.
Semenov finished 16 points short of the Games qualifying spot. The 29-year old Russian has some experience in high level competition, competing on a team at the 2018 Europe Regional. This year he placed 14th in the Asia Quarterfinals before his surprising run at the Semifinals.
Fellow Russian Andrey Fedotov finished one spot ahead of Semenov in the Quarterfinals and trains out of Soyuz CrossFit, one of the top gyms in Russia.
The final LCQ spot went to Ant Haynes, who rocketed up from 11th at the end of Day 2 to fifth. He hit a homerun in the final event to secure his LCQ spot, placing second and finishing three points ahead of Morteza Sedaghat on the final leaderboard. Hayes competed at the 2019 Games as China’s National Champion, placing 27th.
Jung is a teammate and training partner of Choi’s at CrossFit Limelight in South Korea. She was helped with a second and third place on the final day to move onto the LCQ for the first time.
Jordan’s Dema Zebdieh placed fourth overall and will have a chance to earn a second trip to the Games through the LCQ. In 2019 she made her first Games appearance, finishing 116th as her country’s national champion.
Yuko Sakuyama is a staple of the Asia CrossFit circuit. The 35-year old from Japan has six Regional competitions under her belt as well and will receive a LCQ invite for the second straight year.