CrossFit Games

Top Score on Test One Helps Katelin Van Zyl Solidify the Leader’s Position Heading into Day Two Down Under

May 26, 2023 by
Photo Credit: @hatchphotographynz
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After being the top athlete in Quarterfinals in Oceania, 31-year-old Katelin Van Zyl proved she truly does belong in the top three at the Australia’s Torian Pro Semifinal in Brisbane, Australia on Day One, where three spots to the CrossFit Games are up for grabs.

Van Zyl started her day with an event win, and a world top score on Test 1, beating Danielle Brandon’s time from the North America East Semifinal by one minute and 43 seconds. And she backed that up with a fourth place finish on Test 2.

She heads into Day Two leading two four-time Games veterans, Jamie Simmonds and Madeline Sturt, by eight and 16 points respectively, while the arguably heavy favorite Ellie Turner sits in fifth.

Remind me: Van Zyl, a mother of two young children, is mostly known as a team athlete—she competed with a team at the Games in both 2021 and 2022—but she does have one individual Games appearance to her name in (2019). She was 57th.

Test 1: The Oceania women put on a show in Test 1—a grueling workout featuring three hand-over-hand rope pulls, sandwiched between a 3,000-meter Echo bike, a 2,000-meter Assault Air Runner and a 1,000-meter SkiErg—with two women (Danielle Ford and Katie Brock) besting Brandon’s top time from last weekend in earlier heats.

  • This was followed by Van Zyl leading the charge in the final heat (24:52), followed closely by Emily De Rooy (25:07) and Ellie Turner (25:45), all of whom were faster than Brandon’s time. 
  • Though she didn’t look nervous, Van Zyl admitted competing as an individual after two seasons with a team “is so stressful.” But she wanted to make the transition because she “wanted to see my potential.” So far so good.

Worth noting: While it looked as though the flooring in Brisbane might have made it a little easier to pull the heavy sled than last weekend in Orlando, FL, it’s worth mentioning that Van Zyl was not only faster than Brandon two of the three rope pulls,  but she was also faster on the Echo Bike by a full 25 seconds.

Test 2: Test 2—an interval-style gymnastics test featuring five ring complexes (consisting of one toes-to-ring, one muscle-up and one ring dip) followed by 20 single-leg squats before hitting as many burpee box jump overs as possible in the remainder of the three minute interval—was Simmonds’ time to shine. She was fast and smooth on all of her ring complexes, besting all other competitors by eight repetitions, a score that would have been good enough for third overall in North America East.

  • “I’m feeling good. I think I’m just enjoying it again. I was so panicked last year (dealing) with injuries,” Simmonds said after her win.
  • Meanwhile, Sturt, who is trying to get back to the Games for the first time since 2019, was also strong, finishing with 47 reps, good enough for second place, and keeping her in the top three heading into Day Two.
  • Van Zyl, too, was no slouch, picking up fourth overall and 88 points, enough to hold her overall lead.
  • Finally, Turner, who has been considered Australia’s rising star for the last two seasons, was 11th, dropping her to fifth overall. That being said, gymnastics has long been considered Turner’s biggest weakness, so considering the test was a damage control one for her, she mitigated the damage and finds herself still well within reach of the top three.

The big picture: With five Games athletes in the roster (Laura Clifton being the fifth), five tests remaining, and just three spots available in Brisbane, the show Down Under has only just begun. 

Our prediction: With Saturday strength tests coming up, watch for a hungry Turner to show up on Day Two.

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