CrossFit Games

Ilyas Kuliev Takes the Asia Lead into Day 2

June 2, 2023 by
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Which 2 of the 29 individual men taking the competition floor in Busan, South Korea are going to show off the sweat they shed, sacrifices they made, and work they put in during the off-season? 

With last year’s Asia Semifinal champ Roman Khrennikov already qualified for the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games after The North America East Semifinal and other top athlete, Nasser Alruwayeh, disqualified from the sport for 2 years after a positive PEDs test, this was the question on everyone mind going into Day 1 of the 2023 Far East Throwdown. 

After the first two, of seven total tests, the answer will come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following Asia’s men for the last few years. 

Currently ranked first and second, respectively, are Ilyas Kuliev and Kang Kyungsun

Age isn’t just a number: Having just started the sport in 2021, the 27-year-old Kuliev has a much younger training age compared to his competitors. 

While the Russian did compete in the 2022 Far East Throwdown, finishing 12th overall, Kuliev’s lack of competition experience does put him at a disadvantage. 7 events in 3 days, after all, is a grind with a learning curve. 

You gotta want it to win it: Known for his ability to grind, Kang Kyungsun is currently seated second after the first 2 tests. A three-time Semifinal athlete and two-time Regional athlete (throwback), Kyungsun’s competition experience gives him a leg up on the man wearing red (Kuliev) after Day 1.  

To come out on top after Day 3’s tests, Kyungsun is going to have to have an uncharacteristically strong performance. While gritty, he rarely tops the charts on strength events. Case and point: Quarterfinal Test 3 took him over 7 minutes, a significant clip slower than any of the Semifinal athletes who have qualified for The Games thus far during this stage of the season. 

Where’s Waldo?: Look at the men seated in the top 5 after Day 1, and you’ll feel like you’re playing a game of Where’s Waldo. 

None of the men most expected to win this Semifinal are in the top 5. Including Arthur Semenov, who wound up competing in the 2022 CrossFit Games after Alruwayeh’s DQ. 

  • While he finished first in Test 1, his 18th place finish on event 2 currently has Semenov seated 8th overall. 

Also currently missing from the top is Andrei Fedotov, who is currently in 12 place after hitting the cap during test 1. The athlete beat out all of his other competitors by 7 or more reps on test 2, earning him a first-place on the ruck-and-ring triplet. But unfortunately, we learned from Gui Malheiros last weekend that in these smaller Semifinal events, just one bad event finish is enough to keep you out of the games.  

In due time: An experienced athlete who you shouldn’t rule out quite yet is Morteza Sedaghat. Currently seated 6th, Sedaghat knew going into this weekend that test 1 would be his worst test. Equal parts gymnasty and strong, the upcoming 5 tests are his to win.  

Overall Standings After Day 1:

  1. Ilyas Kuliev
  2. Kang Kyungsun
  3. Ant Haynes
  4. Anton Yakovlev
  5. Seungjon Kim
  6. Morteza Sedaghat 
  7. Anatoli Borisenko
  8. Arthur Semenov,
  9. Ruslan Miftakhov
  10. Eren Kim

Test 1

Test 1 was made for Cardio Kings with hip drive. And last year’s Far East Semifinal silver medalist, Arthur Semenov, proved himself to be just that. With a finish time of 23:40, the Russian athlete kept his pulls consistent, and strides and strokes steady. 

The current overall leader, Ilyas Kuliev, came in second on this test. Just 8 seconds beyond 2022 Games Athlete (Semenov), Kuliev is showing that he has the lungs and odd-object strength that can hang with the best of them. 

Side-by-side: It’s impossible to compare the grippiness of floors at the different Semifinal Events, however the top men at this Semifinal finished Test 1 at least 90 seconds slower than the test 1 top finishers at Oceania, North America East, or Europe. 

Test 1 Standings:

  1. Arthur Semenov, 23:40.00
  2. Ilyas Kuliev, 23:48.00
  3. Anatoli Borisenko, 24:29.00
  4. Jeongheon Yeo, 24:46.00
  5. Anton Yakovlev, 24:54.00
  6. Ant Haynes, 24: 59.00
  7. Ram Dover, 25:25.00
  8. Kang Kyungsun, 26:02.00
  9. Ruslan Miftakhov, 26: 08.00
  10. Meysam Rohani, 26:20.00

Test 2

Test 2 is all about the chest pump and tricep stamina. No man on the competition floor at Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO) proved his upper-body endurance quite like Andrei Fedotov.  

The athlete, who earned bronze at the 2022 Far East Throwdown, needed to cause a ruckus on the rings after having a sub-par (12th) place finish on test 1. With a total of 47 burpees, Fedotov did 7 more reps than the second place finisher in the test, Morteza Sedaghat. 

Sedaghat, who finished first in his region on 2023 Quarterfinals Test 1 excels at workouts with rings. His steady performance on Test 2, which landed him second place finish on the test, proved it. 

As strong as he is gymnasty, all the barbell work he has waiting for him on Day 3 should help him slide up the leaderboard. 

Tooth-and-nail: Just 5 reps separated the second place finisher of test 2 from the 8th place finisher. The narrow margins on this test highlight just how important every rep and second are at this stage of competition. 

Test 2 Standings:

  1. Andrei Fedotov, 47
  2. Morteza Sedaghat, 40
  3. Kang Kyungsun, 39
  4. Raymond Sabat, 38
  5. Seungjon Kim, 38
  6. Ilyas Kuliev, 35
  7. Eren Kim, 35
  8. Ant Haynes, 35
  9. Marcus Kwak, 31
  10. Yu-Sen Zhu, 30

Looking ahead: Day 2 is dubbed moving day because the leaderboard often shakes and shifters on the middle day of competition. Likely, this will be the case for the Far East Semifinal. While Ilyas Kuliev and Kang Kyungsun are the top going into test 3, it’s Morteza Sedaghat, Arthur Semenov, and Andrei Fedotov that you’d be wise to keep an eye on throughout Day 3.

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