2022 CrossFit Semifinals Preview: Copa Sur
The CrossFit crazy fans of South America finally get a live competition to celebrate their favorite athletes when the CrossFit Copa Sur Semifinal takes over the coastal city of Vitória in Brazil this weekend. Six invitations for the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games will be up for grabs on the outdoor competition floor set up outside the Shopping Vitória Mall.
Last season the Brazil CrossFit Championship was set to host the Semifinal for the South American region. However due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was switched to a virtual competition with CrossFit taking the reins of the programming.
South America’s 2021 Games performances were a mixed bag. On one hand Brazil CrossFit Champion Guilherme Malheiros placing seventh, the highest placing ever by a South American athlete, and electrifying the CrossFit fans with his youthful enthusiasm and raw strength was a banner moment for the region. On the other hand, he was the only South American, individual or team, to finish in the top-20.
- Agustin Richelme placed 32nd, Sasha Nievas finished 31st and fellow Games qualifier Larissa Cunha was unable to compete due to testing positive for a banned substance prior to the Games. The two teams that qualified, Etto CrossFit and Q21 CrossFit, placed 33rd and 36th respectively.
- Nine athletes, six men and three women, in the field have previously qualified for the Games as individuals. Eight of the athletes competed at the 2019 Games as national champions, the lone exception being Pablo Chalfun, who competed at the 2018 Games after winning the Latin America Regional that season.
- In the team division, Q21 returns as the odds-on favorite after winning the Quarterfinals in the region. The Argentinian team will have to compete against a field that includes 14 teams from Brazil.
- Last Chancers: All six athletes that competed in last year’s LCQ are in this year’s field led by Brazil’s Kaique Cerveny and Colombia’s Valentina Rangel who each placed eighth.
Shoo-in: With Nieves electing to compete on the Mayhem Independence team and Cunha serving her two-year suspension the field is without its two favorites and has no shoo-ins.
Games Expectations: Argentina’s Melina Rodriguez is a three-time Games qualifier (twice as an individual) who last competed in 2020, placing 17th in the online stage of the Games. One of the favorites last year, she struggled at last year’s Semifinals who ended up placing 16th. This year she placed third in the Quarterfinals after placing 61st in the Open and recording the top score in South America. In the Quarterfinals she recorded the world’s eighth-best time in Workout 1 with a time of 5:42.
Brazilian Julia Kato placed fourth at last year’s Semifinal and placed fourth, resulting in another shot at the Games through the LCQ. The 22-year old placed 26th but took valuable experience from the extended season. She parlayed that experience into her best Open finish and a second place in the Quarterfinals thanks to an event win in the final workout of the stage. Her time of 3:20 in that workout was the ninth fastest in the world.
Bubble Athletes: Kato’s training partner Luiza Marques won the Quarterfinals, recording three top-5 finishes including an event win in Workout 2 with a time of 7:19, sixth best time in the world. The 20-year old has four Games appearances including three as a teen athlete and competing last year on a team with CrossFit Al Ain last year.
Rangel is also a contender for one of the two Games invites, the 25-year old has been the “Fittest” woman from Colombia the last three years and finished fourth in the Quarterfinals after placing 62nd in the Open.
Wild Card: Brazil’s Victoria Campos took the crown of Brazil’s national champion this year with her 64th place in the Open. Last year the 29-year old just missed out on her first career Games appearance, placing third and followed that with a 12th place in the LCQ. She made the move to Cookeville, TN this season to train full-time with the Mayhem training camp.
Paraguay’s Carol Colling competed at the 2019 Games as a national champion and finished 47th. She missed out on the Semifinals last year but made it this season thanks to a ninth place finish in the Quarterfinals.
Shoo-ins: Unlike the women’s division, the men’s division has two athletes who should have no issue punching their tickets to Madison. The aforementioned Malheiros showed his fitness has greatly improved since making the move to Cookeville to train with Rich Froning and the Mayhem camp. The 22-year old Brazilian placed 90th in the Open and followed that by winning the South America Quarterfinals in impressive fashion with three event wins. His results in Quarterfinals ranked second behind Justin Medeiros worldwide. Last year he finished second in the Semifinal to earn his third trip to Madison (two as an individual, one as a teen).
The athlete who beat Malheiros in last year’s Semifinal has also shown his fitness has improved as well is Richelme. The Argentianian repeated as the top South American in the Open and finished second in the Quarterfinals in the region and 15th worldwide. The 25-year old had the world’s best time in the Quarterfinals opening workout. The two events that Malheiros didn’t win in the Quarterfinals were won by Richelme.
The two athletes should put on quite a race for winning the Semifinal, Malheiros will have a great second day of competition at Copa Sur with the “Barbell Complex” and “2014 Regional Workout 5” showing up on the same day while Richelme should do very well on the opening day with the “Chipper 22” and “Run-Swim-Run”. Leaving both athletes battling it out on day 3.
Games Expectations: Omar Martinez is Venezuela’s four-time national champion and represented his country at the 2019 Games where he placed 66th. Last year he just missed out on his second Games appearance, placing third at the Brazil CrossFit Championship and followed that with a LCQ invite where he placed 24th.
Bubble Athlete: Nicolas Bidarte had to change course on his 2022 season, originally planning on making the Games as a part of the star-studded Mayhem Libertad team before the team was deemed ineligible. He was able to quickly refocus his training to individual competition and that resulted in a third place in the Quarterfinals. Last year he won the Quarterfinals before placing sixth at the Semifinals.
Wild Card: Kaique Cerveny is a 24-year old Brazilian who made a push for a Games spot not once, but twice last season. He placed fourth in the Semifinal and followed that with an eighth place at the LCQ. This season he improved his Quarterfinal placing by six spots, moving from 10th to fourth.
Copa Sur Teams
Frontrunners: Representing Argentina, Q21 returns their whole team that finished second at the Semifinal last year. Sabrina Dellagiustina, Gonzalo Duro, Agustina Haag and Matho Vizcarra won two of the six Quarterfinal workouts and finished in the top-10 in all five workouts.
Kingbull CrossFit Paraguay finished second in the Quarterfinals thanks to four top-10 finishes including an event win.
BXP CrossFit Team BXP finished just two points behind Kingbull CrossFit Paraguay in Quarterfinals and leads the contingent of 14 teams from Brazil competing this weekend.