CrossFit Games

Seher Kaya Wins Far East Throwdown by 129 Points; Shahad Budebs Comes from Behind to Take Second Spot

June 4, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Erin Henderson | @erinhendrsn
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Seher Kaya finished her dominant weekend at the Far East Throwdown Semifinal in Busan, South Korea in even more dramatic fashion on Sunday. She logged back-to-back event wins en route to punching her second straight ticket to the CrossFit Games by a decisive 129 points.

While Kaya’s win was no surprise, Shahad Budebs, a 2019 Games athlete, of the United Arab Emirates finishing second and punching the other ticket certainly was.

Remind me: All weekend, it was Turkey’s Kaya, a Muslim who lives and trains at CrossFit Oslo in Norway, and Russia’s Anastasya Dodonova who sat in the top two spots. After Day Two, Budebs was back in fourth, 45 points away from second place, which is a big margin in a Semis with a smaller field of athletes and with only two spots up for grabs.

But the way it played out, Budebs was able to more than make up enough points on Sunday to be able to now call herself a CrossFit Games rookie.

The details:

Test 6: Budebs made her first move on Test 6—a highly technical gymnastics test featuring handstand walking and pirouettes, chest-to-wall handstand push-ups and legless rope climbs. She stayed close enough to Kaya for a second place finish. 

  • Dodonova and Korea’s Dawon Jung, third place going into Sunday, both struggled, finishing 15th and ninth respectively, giving Budebs just what she needed to make a move closer to second. 

Test 7: The final test of the weekend—three rounds of 10 Echo Bike calories, 20 toes-to-bar and a sandbag bear-hug carry—was nearly a carbon copy of Test 6.

  • Kaya logged the event win, Budebs was close behind in second, while Dodonova and Jung finished 10th and 15th respectively, giving Budebs a 10-point win over Jung, who tied in points with Dodonova.

The big picture: Asia will be represented by one veteran and one rookie this summer, and while they might be one of the weaker regions in the world, Kaya will be looking to improve upon her respectable 29th place finish last year, and more importantly she wants to show that Muslim women have a place at the highest level of the sport.

  • There aren’t many Muslims in the Games, and especially women. So it’s important for me to represent us. I want to show it’s possible and to (give other Muslim women) someone to look up to and relate to,” she said. 

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