Justin Medeiros joined by Roman Khrennikov and Ricky Garard to Usher in New Era of Men’s Elite
The new guard of the men’s elite division is here, led by Justin Medeiros who just won back-to-back CrossFit Games titles. But two wildcards, once kept away from competing by two very different reasons, have now joined him atop the men’s mountaintop.
Medeiros’ win at the 2021 CrossFit Games was notable for his domination, as he took the lead early in the competition and did not relinquish it. This year, that was not the case. Medeiros found himself in a dog fight with two of the most unexpected characters the CrossFit world has ever seen, and we got a show right down to the final event that turned out to be a finish for the ages.
Medeiros is now the clear favorite to win the 2023 CrossFit Games, and pretty much every CrossFit Games after that for the foreseeable future, barring pigs flying or Hell freezing over. But it seems he now has two serious competitors who are going to give him a run for his money every year, and they both came out of the abyss of other continents.
Roman Khrennikov’ story is one ripe for a Hollywood screenplay. The Russian has qualified for the CrossFit Games every season since 2018, and he won his first career event during the online Round 1 in 2020, but he has been unable to compete in-person. He could not acquire a visa in time.
Khrennikov’s situation changed in 2022. He qualified for the CrossFit Games once again. This time he was able to get the necessary visa to make his journey overseas. He headed to Madison in March and began hitting his training hard.
With so much hype surrounding Khrennikov over the years, there were questions about whether he would live up to it during his first in-person CrossFit Games. He definitely provided an answer by locking up silver in his debut season, on top of the fact that a massive global event involving his home country played out right as he was securing his visa and making a mad dash to the US to make sure he could actually get on a plane.
Khrennikov was a force to be reckoned with throughout the weekend. He started with some consistent performances on the first two days before finally contending for the win on Friday morning during The Capitol. He finished second but kicked off a run that featured his first two in-person event wins, a heat win in Echo Press, and an incredible final battle with Medeiros on Jackie Pro.
This standout performance included a storybook ending. Khrennikov finished second in his first in-person CrossFit Games, and he received confirmation that he will continue to be a factor in the future. He acquired a P1 visa, made for athletic and entertainment events, so he can stay in the United States for the next five years. Khrennikov will have the option to extend his visa by another five years once the current one expires.
Ricky Garard’ story is one of redemption. The 27-year-old Australian came third at the 2017 CrossFit Games, however tested positive for a banned substance and was handed a four-year ban from the sport. Garard initially denied that he took PEDs, however has since come clean, and begun a redemption tour within the hearts and minds of CrossFit fans and the community.
It’s safe to say the reaction and loud cheers for Garard during the coliseum events in Madison have proved that the CrossFit community is willing to give people a second chance, and Garard has been welcomed back into the world with open arms. The ideology that we all make mistakes and we all deserve second chances is one we saw play out this weekend in Madison for the fun-loving Australian.
Medeiros is most definitely the man to beat now for the foreseeable future, but we can add two significant names along with the likes of Patrick Vellner, Brent Fikowski, Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson, Noah Ohlsen, Jonne Koski, Travis Mayer and Jeffrey Adler. The Russian and the Australian have now entered the mix and shaken up this pot, delivering new storylines heading into next season, and a new narrative moving forward for the men: welcome to the new era.