Down Under Championship 2023 Preview: Who to Watch

November 30, 2023 by
Photo Credit: @downunderchampionship
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Oceania’s largest off-season competition, The Down Under Championship (DUC) is taking place in Wollongong, Australia on December 1-3, 2023. 

What we love about the DUC is that it provides the local Australian and New Zealand athletes an opportunity to throw down against international Games-level athletes on Aussie soil and that is happening once again this year. 

Competing in the team division are returning Down Under Championship athletes, Chandler Smith and Noah Olsen, and this time they’ve brought with them, PRVN athlete, Tola Morakinyo, who will be competing down under for the first time. 

We also have some big-name female athletes who have made the journey to Australia, including, Dani Speegle, Emily Rethwill and Jessi Smith who will be competing in the team division for the first time.

Iceland’s Sara Sigmundsdottir flew to Australia but has made a last-minute withdrawal from the competition due to injury. Canadian athlete Anikha Greer will be throwing down as an individual.


Despite losing two of the strongest contenders in the women’s line-up to injury, the race for the three podium positions is going to be tight in this division. Sara Sigmundsdottir has made a last-minute withdrawal from the competition due to injury, and Katelin Van Zyl, another contender for a podium spot, has also withdrawn from the competition with a hernia that requires surgery. 

Who to Watch

Madeline “Maddie” Sturt is the reigning Down Under Championship women’s champion. She has experience on her side as a four-time Games athlete. After coming epically close to securing a ticket to the Games this year, Sturt is hungry for a podium finish again this weekend.

Emily de Rooy is not afraid of hard work, as she made evident at the Torian Pro when she secured her first ticket to the Games earlier this year. The Down Under Championship workouts appear to be in De Rooy’s wheelhouse, with a blend of barbell cycling and plenty of upside-down gymnastics. Will we see De Rooy standing on the podium at the end of the weekend?

Grace Walton is another athlete to keep an eye on over the weekend. Walton finished sixth in the Oceania Semifinal this year and was one of three athletes to narrowly miss out on punching a ticket to the Games at the Torian Pro. It will be interesting to see what Walton has been working on during the off-season.

Dark Horse

Anikha Greer has made the trip from Canada to compete in the individual competition. After narrowly missing out on competing at the Games in 2022 and 2023, Greer will benefit from getting more competition experience under her belt. It will be exciting to see what the Canadian can do at the Down Under Championship this weekend. 


The men’s division will have an exciting battle for the podium spots, especially as some of Oceania’s more dominant male athletes will be competing in the team division this weekend. 

Who to Watch

Jake Douglas is a favorite for a podium finish in the men’s division. Douglas secured his maiden ticket to the Games this year, in an epic final event at the Oceania Semifinal in May. Douglas is an excitement machine who can lift big weights and we can’t wait to see him hit the competition floor this weekend.  

Zac Thomas grabbed our attention at the Torian Pro after taking an Event 1 win in the first Semifinal test. After finishing second in the online qualifier for the Down Under Championship, this Wollongong local is an athlete to watch and a podium contender this weekend. 

Peter Ellis is on our radar as a podium contender. Ellis finished first in the Down Under Championship online qualifier. He also had a very strong performance at the Torian Pro this year, finishing fifth. It will be interesting to see what this up-and-coming athlete can do this weekend.

Women’s Teams

The women’s team division is stacked with some of the best female athletes from Oceania, as well as some exciting international athletes. 

Who to Watch

The Fit Mummas Club consists of three home-grown Games athletes Alethea Boon, Jaylee Mansy and Justine Beath. These fit moms displayed a dominant performance during the online qualifiers for the Down Under Championship. With their depth of experience at the highest level, The Fit Mummas Club is our hot pick for a podium finish this weekend.  

Nexletica Gold, made up of Amy Alessi, Briony Challis and Christee Hollard is another local team that we’re keen to see on the competition floor this weekend. Nexletica Gold finished first during the online qualifiers for this event. It’ll be exciting to see what they can do in person this weekend.

California Gurls, as their name suggests, consists of US-based Games athletes Dani Speegle, Emily Rethwill and Jessi Smith. We’re excited to see how these international athletes match up against Australia’s best on the competition floor this weekend. 

Men’s Teams

The men’s team division is bursting with star power, with Australia’s top male athletes forming uber teams alongside some star-studded athletes that have flown in from the US. 

Who to Watch

Team Frog Grips is stacked with Australian Games athletes, Bayley Martin, Jay Crouch and Royce Dunne. With Dunne leading this team, we’re excited to see what they can bring to the competition floor this weekend. Team Frog Grips is our pick for a top-three finish and a spot on the podium.

Ombre Hombres consists of US-based Games athletes Chandler Smith, Noah Olsen, and Tola Morakinyo. Who could forget Smith’s epic 309lbs snatch last year? We can’t wait to see what magic these guys bring to the competition floor this weekend. 

The Bro Dawgs is made up of Ricky Garard, Ben Gerard and U.S.-Games athlete Spencer Panchik. After sitting out the 2023 CrossFit Games season, Ricky Gerard appears pumped to get back on the competition floor. Teaming up with his brother Ben and bringing in Spencer Panchik, we predict a podium finish for The Bro Dawgs this weekend. 

The bottom line: With big-name athletes competing in both team and individual divisions, it’s hard to know which division will be more exciting to watch. It’ll be interesting to see how jetlag and offseason training affects the competition this weekend. If you’re not able to make it in person to The Down Under Championship, there’s no need to miss out, as all events will be live streamed.

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