Could The Athens Throwdown Be a Secret Weapon in Predicting European Talent?
Wodapalooza, the Granite Games, the Rogue Invitational and Mid Atlantic CrossFit Challenge are just some of the major off-season competitions in North America that have turned heads year after year. Whether a chance at redemption or a showcase of what’s to come for a seasoned athlete or a preview into the next generation of greats, these competitions hold significant value to the sport, all of them eventually serving as Sanctionals or Semifinals.
One competition, The Athens Throwdown, is a prime example of this model at work in Europe.
The details: The competition, which held its inaugural event in 2014 in Kallithea, Greece (a district in Athens), brings together athletes from all over Europe for a three day competition.
- Three founders–Nikolas Voliotis, Andreas Giannopoulus, and Vasilis Eleftherakis–came together to create the competition for the love of the sport in 2014. Voliotis says they host the competition year after year largely because of the support and involvement they receive from their members. “We do it because we have a really big family,” he said.
- The competition takes place every year in the 2004 Olympics stadium, giving athletes ample competition floor space, warm-up area, and other premium amenities.
- While the competition highlights Games-caliber competition every year, it also hosts Masters, Scaled, Teenager, and Team divisions.
- The competition will take place in May of 2023 and is expected to accommodate over 1300 athletes. In 2022, 64 countries were represented.
One big thing: The competition may have predicting powers when it comes to the next European stars of the sport. In 2015, an 18-year-old Laura Horvath won the women’s division handily, three years before her CrossFit Games debut. Besides Horvath, several Games legends have made an appearance in Athens.
- Karin Frey, who recently won the Dubai CrossFit Championship, has won the event the last three years in a row. In 2022, she racked up every single event win besides one, in which she got second place.
- Other notable names that have competed in the past include Camilla Salomonsson Hellman, Bronislaw Olenkowicz, Adrian Mundwiler, Giorgios Karavis, Uldis Upenieks, Ioannis Papadopoulus, and Lukas Esslinger.
- Voliotis admits that the competition doesn’t have the same funds as North American competitions often do, and they can’t comp travel costs for athletes or offer huge prize purses. The athletes that do compete year after year come for the quality of programming, facility, and competition organization.
The bottom line: With a historic roster and a grand facility, the Athens Throwdown continues to bring in athletes from across Europe. Going forward, spectators may benefit from a long-term view because of the potential the competition’s athletes have shown.