CrossFit Games

Anastasya Dodonova and Veteran Seher Kaya Sit in the Driver’s Seat in Korea on Day 1

June 2, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Far East Throwdown(@fareastthrowdown)
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With last year’s Far East Throwdown Semifinal winner Seungyeon Choi sitting out this year due to a nagging shoulder injury, there was a clear opening for a new athlete from Asia to make a mark this weekend at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO) in Busan, South Korea. 

And on Day 1, it was Russia’s Anastasya Dodonova who took advantage of the opportunity. With two third place finishes, she leads veteran Seher Kaya, who is competing for Turkey but lives and trains at CrossFit Oslo, Norway. Kaya represented Turkey last year for the first time at the CrossFit Games and currently has a 12-point cushion on Kazakhstan’s Kamila Takeyeva in third.

Meanwhile, two other top contenders looking to snag one of the two CrossFit Games tickets available this weekend—Korea’s Dawon Jung, first in Quarterfinals, and Japan’s Yuko Sakuyama, a two-time Semifinals athlete and national weightlifter—sit in fifth and sixth respectively.

Worth noting: Dodonova leading the way after two very diverse events is a surprise. The 28-year-old only qualified to Semifinals in 15th overall, and last season she was 21st. That being said, we know she trains with strength coach Dmitry Klokov, who also helped last year’s CrossFit Games silver medalist Roman Khrennikov.

The details:

Test 1: Test 1, a long, largely endurance event with heavy hand-over-hand rope pulls, was all but dominated by Russia’s Raisa Blinova. She bested all other competitors by a full two minutes and 15 seconds.

  • Kaya held her own to finish second, while Dodonova was third. 
  • The test caused some problems for 36-year-old Sakuyama, who placed 17th overall, digging herself a bit of a hole to climb out of to start her competition. 

Test 2: Sakuyama answered the call and came roaring back on Test 2—an interval-style gymnastics event with a weighted ruck—putting up an impressive score (44 reps), a score that would be competitive in any of the Semifinals around the world.

  • Dodonova also proved she can handle technical gymnastics, finishing third with 35 reps, while Kaya put in another solid performance, finishing fifth.
  • Finally, Kim had her second straight eighth place finish, keeping her in contention—16 points out of second—but she’ll have to have a big day Saturday to stay in contention heading into the final day.

The big picture: While it might be a surprise to see an unknown athlete lead the way after Day 1, one day of competition is just one day of competition. And with Saturday featuring three more varied tests of fitness, all eyes will be on discovering whether Dodonova is really a new contender to pay attention to in Asia. 

Will she rise or fall? And will Keher cruise her way to a second straight Games appearance?

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