Competition

Chandler Smith, Anikha Greer Use 2022 CanWest Games as Redemption

July 18, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Carlos Ernesto Fernandez Avila (left); Desmond Lee (right)
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After disappointing 2022 CrossFit Games seasons, three-time Games athlete Chandler Smith and up-and-comer Anikha Greer showed up at the CanWest Games in Coquitlam, British Columbia on the weekend with something to prove.

And prove themselves they did. Both Smith and Greer finished the three-day competition—a competition that featured a handful of Semifinals athletes who came close to qualifying to Madison, WI this season—on top of the leaderboard, and with CA$15,000 pay checks.

Rounding out the podium on the men’s side were James Sprague—sixth at the Syndicate Crown Semifinals—and Mitchel Stevenson—sixth at the Last Chance Qualifier. And on the women’s side, Hattie Kanyo—14th at the LCQ—was second, while Gabrielle Spenst—19th at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge—finished third.

Smith’s Story: Smith, who was expected to finish in the top five at the Granite Games Semifinals struggled all weekend in Eagan, MN, eventually placing 11th overall and failing to qualify to even the Last Chance Qualifier.

For Smith, deciding to compete at the CanWest Games last week was about proving to himself that what happened at Semifinals doesn’t need to become a trend.

“I had some things go wrong at Semifinals so I mostly wanted to confirm that it’s not something that’s permanently wrong…Some of the things that were going on are kind of related to outdoor events,” Smith told the Morning Chalk Up on Sunday, adding that he didn’t want to elaborate on exactly what happened at Semifinals.

On the weekend, Smith finished with five top three finishes in six events, including two event wins, and assured the community he isn’t done yet.

“As long as I can keep it as a job, I’ll do it. I love it…As long as there’s a space for me and I can work hard to stay competitive then I’ll stay,” he said.

Greer’s Story: As for 19-year-old Greer, who was 16th in the world in this year’s Open, her season came to an end due to a submissions error during Quarterfinals when her Workout 5 score failed to post before the 12 pm PT deadline.

“I fully take responsibility for not double checking and screenshotting as I normally do, but I was so certain it was in, and so mentally exhausted, ready to be done and move on,” said Greer at the time. Still, she was shattered and “hit rock bottom.”

Some background: To truly understand this year’s error hit her so hard, you have to look at what this teenager has been through already in the sport.

  • In 2018, Greer missed out on qualifying to the Games as a teenager by one spot, and the following year by just a handful of spots.
  • In 2020, Greer finally qualified to the Games, only to have the opportunity stripped away from her when the teen division was canceled due to the pandemic.  
  • Last season, once again, Greer missed qualifying by one spot through the Atlas Games.

This year, though, was the hardest blow of all.

“This was the first time I think, in the multiple years of close calls and heartbreak, this was the first year I really hit rock bottom and I really didn’t want to keep going. I never wanted to quit before, but this was the first year I actually wanted to quit. I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’” Greer said, adding that it took her two months to mentally heal enough from this year’s experience to want to continue.

Feeling healed enough, Greer decided to compete at the CanWest Games, but wasn’t sure what to expect. She just knew she needed to get back out there, she explained.

“I didn’t want to wait until Wodapalooza to do an event again. I kind of needed something to look forward to after this season,” said Greer, adding that her experience on the weekend got her excited once again for the sport.

Her next step is to move from Prince Edward Island to Miami, FL to train at Peak 360 with athletes like eight-time Games athlete Noah Ohlsen; however, she will continue to be coached by her long-time hometown coach Brett Roberts.

The big picture: While mid-July might seem like weird timing for an elite-level CrossFit event, as it’s likely not going to attract CrossFit Games qualifiers, there seems to be an important place for events like this for athletes like Smith and Greer, as well as providing another high-level competition experience for young up-and-comers like Jack Farlow (fourth overall). And beyond the competition itself, events like the CanWest Games and the French Throwdown, which took place earlier in June provide big pay days for CrossFit athletes before the Games.

  • Both Smith and Greer took home CA$15,000 at the CanWest Games, significantly more than the US$5,000 individual Semifinals winners were awarded. And in fact, the $15,000 Smith and Greer won on the weekend is more than they would receive for placing 16th at this summer’s Games.
  • Further, second place finishers Sprague and Kanyo earned CA$10,000 on the weekend, compared to US$4,000 for placing second at Semifinals, while third place finishers Stevenson and Spenst earned CA$5,000, compared to US$3,000 for placing third at Semifinals.

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