Six Takeaways from the Madrid Championship

September 11, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Madrid Championship
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Over 120 elite individual CrossFit athletes and 30 elite teams converged on the “Caja Mágica” (The Magic House) in Madrid, Spain this past weekend for the Madrid Championship. Those athletes attempted to crack the code of Mat Fraser’s HWPO programming over the course of the three-day competition with familiar names finishing atop the leaderboard.

Here are six key takeaways as we recap the competition:

No Games hangover

Despite what Lazar Djukic says about his current level of fitness after placing 8th at the Games, the Serbian showed that he is still one of the fittest men on earth and reasserted himself as the “Fittest” in Europe.

Djukic led at the end of Day 1 and never was threatened as he finished with seven top-10s with his worst finish being 19th. He was one of two athletes in the field with multiple event wins, winning two.

It’s a testament to his fitness that he can take time off after the Games including a week of doing zero fitness and still win at a high-level competition that featured fellow Games athletes.

Comeback season

Photo Credit – Madrid Championships

Emma Tall and David Shorunke didn’t have the most ideal 2022 Games season. For the Brit Shorunke, a 2020 Games athlete, he has been dealing with injuries since the 2020 Games and has been slowly rehabbing from those ailments. 

Tall, a two-time Games qualifier, was favored to make her third Games heading into the Strength in Depth Semifinal but ended up withdrawing just days prior to the competition due to suffering from asthmatic bronchitis.

For Tall it was especially disappointing as she was coming off her career-best Open performance (27th worldwide) and sixth in the Europe Quarterfinals. In her words she was in the best shape of her life leading up until she got sick. She was coming off a 19th place finish at the 2021 Games, her best showing in her two trips to Madison.

The two JST Compete athletes, who are also dating, train together and are considered one of the fittest men and women in Europe but had to watch the Games from their home in Sweden.

Madrid offered them an opportunity to have a conclusion to their less-than-ideal 2022 season. Those two certainly capitalized. Tall placed second in the final workout, “Dirty Saiga”, to jump Emma McQuaid for the Madrid title. She was consistent throughout the competition, placing no worse than seventh in any event while winning two events.

Shorunke joined his partner on the podium, placing an impressive third in his first live competition since placing second to Mat Fraser at Strength in Depth on January 26, 2020. He had six top-10 finishes including an event win and was sitting in second place for most of the competition till the final event.

Their results bode well for the upcoming season and both showed that if they are fully recovered they are serious contenders for Games spots in Europe.

Norwegian “fitness factory”

Photo Credit – Madrid Championship

Something is brewing in Norway, specifically at CrossFit Oslo the home of the two time runner-up of the Affiliate Cup. Lena Richter, a staple of those teams, is moving on to individual competition with the Madrid Championship being her first step in that process. 

She had differing results throughout the three days. In most of the events she was impressive and looked to be the athlete that finished 10th in this past year’s Europe Quarterfinals. She had six top-10 finishes, winning “Round 2” with a time of 3:44.

She couldn’t overcome a 40th place in the “True Form True Fitness” event on day 2 that contributed to her finishing sixth overall.

Meanwhile her former teammates Eivind Ringard and Ingrid Hodnemyr shined in the team division. Joined by Matilde Garnes, a Games rookie this past year, and Henrik Negård, who competed at the Games this year on Oslo Purple Red, this new version of the Oslo team dominated. They recorded three event wins and never placed outside of the third in any of the events. 

The team has many options to choose from to reload for the 2023 Games season with this Madrid team showing the capability of being one of the top teams in the world.

Krypton “Europe” makes a splash

When it was announced that the United States-based CrossFit Krypton team would be making an appearance in Madrid there was excitement in the division. Alec Smith and Dani Speegle would be joining the husband-wife combo of New Zealander Jamie and Brit Elliot Simmonds; it caused a buzz throughout the Spanish crossfit community.

However Smith and Speegle withdrew from the competition and in their place they found Kristof Horvath and Mia Hesketh. Though those two replacements do not have the star power or pedigree of Smith and Speegle, they showed they were more than capable filling in. The team placed second, joining Oslo HSTL. Made as the only team to record top-ten finishes.

The Krypton team showed they were gelling as a team on the final day of competition, winning two events and placing second in the final event of the day, “Dirty Saiga”.

Their final results speaks volumes about the ability of the athletes and that even though they represented the Krypton name this team was purely European.

No hay dos sin tres

The host country was able to show off their best athletes during the course of the weekend with the Spanish trio of Aniol Ekai, Calum Clements and Martin Cuervo showing signs of fighting for the distinction of being the top male athlete for their country this season and possibly making a Games run.

For Ekai, his 2022 season was one he much rather forget. His season started off great with a 34th place finish in the Open and earning the title of the “Fittest” in Spain. He elected to go team with CrossFit Ponferrada, a Spanish super team which included Cuervo. Prior to the team Quarterfinals, they were ruled ineligible, ending both his and Cuervo’s Games season since the ruling was made a day after the end of the individual Quarterfinals.

Both he and the 22-year old Cuervo in all likelihood would have made the Semifinals and both could have been contenders for a Games spot out of Europe based on what we saw with their Open performances (Cuervo placed 63rd worldwide). 

Ekai made his country proud by finishing second in comeback fashion. In the final event of the day, he won, vaulting him past Shorunke.

Cuervo finished 10th overall.

The 25-year old Clements was a threat to the podium all weekend, recording five top-10 finishes including two in the top-3 as he placed sixth overall. A semifinalist this past season, placing 15th at Lowlands, he looks much improved from the athlete that placed 2,024 worldwide and 121st in Spain during the Open.

What we saw from all three of the young Spaniards at this weekend’s competition is that their fitness has improved after having their season’s end in disappointment, using those lessons learned and experiences to motivate them. 

Putting the 2023 season on notice

What this event did was showcase many exciting athletes, with the majority of being from Europe, who are not well-known or unproven. Here’s some notable athletes who impressed and could break out in 2023.

  • Anikha Greer – the 19 year old Canadian, fresh off her win at the CanWest Games continued to gain valuable experience, this time internationally. She placed seventh and looked the part of a future Games star. Save for two bad events she would have been contending for a podium spot.
  • Manon Angonese – like Greer, the Belgian suffered through some trying times during the Quarterfinals that cut her Games season short. What she showed in her third place finish at the Madrid was that she is ready to contend for one of the European Games spots. The “Whiteshark” won two events including the final event and finished just four points behind the runner-up McQuaid.
  • Valentina Rangel – the Colombian was competing for a podium spot throughout the weekend. She had four event runner-up finishes as she finished fourth overall.
  • Noortje Bleeker and Aimee Cringle – finished eighth and tenth respectively and are two European athletes who have yet to qualify for the Games but showed they are on the cusp.
  • Alex Kotoulas – was seven points behind a podium spot, placing no worse than 14th in an event.
  • Travis Mayer – it took two events, but the eight-time Games veteran was able to make a spirited podium run in the final six to place fifth overall.
  • Jelle Hoste – the Belgian had two event wins, joining Djukic as the only athlete with multiple event wins. He would finish ninth overall.

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