Michelle Basnett Seals the Deal in South Africa, Snags Single Spot to Madison
After hovering in and around the top of the leaderboard all weekend, but never sitting in first, 26-year-old Michelle Basnett finished her weekend at the REBEL Renegade Games in Johannesburg, South Africa with back-to-back event wins to put herself exactly where she needed to be—on top—thus snagging the single Games invite available to the African Semifinal athletes.
Remind me: This will be Basnett’s second trip to the CrossFIt Games. She won the Fittest in Cape Town Semifinal in 2021, and went on to place 32nd at the Games that summer. Last year, the South African-born but American-raised Basnett, finished third at the same competition, failing to qualify to her second consecutive Games.
Event Six: While nobody in the field finished the test before the 16-minute time cap, Basnett came the closest, with Christina Livaditakis of Zimbabwe, another contender going into the weekend, right behind her.
- Meanwhile, Mariska Smit, who led the field heading into the final day of competition, finished third, helping Basnett take the lead by a single point heading into Event Seven.
Event Seven: The final event—three rounds of 10 Echo Bike calories, 20 toes-to-bar and a 60-foot sandbag bear-hug carry—would come down to a race between Basnett and Smit.
- But once again, it was the veteran Basnett who rose to the challenge, winning the sprint event by two seconds over Gemma Radar, while Livaditakis finished third and Smit fifth.
The big picture: While the African Semifinal might be one of the weaker ones in the world, what makes it incredibly challenging is that everyone is fighting for just one spot, leaving arguably less room for error than the Semis that send 10-plus athletes to the Games.
- Case in point: Livaditakis. She put forth an incredible competition—including an event win, a second and two third place finishes—but her 23rd place on Event One essentially made it impossible for her to catch up.
As a result, this year belongs to a well-deserving Basnett, who will have the chance to represent Africa for the second time this summer on the biggest stage of the sport.