2023 Dubai Fitness Championship: Men’s Podium Picks and Dark Horses

December 6, 2023 by
Photo Credit: @dxbfitnesschamp
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Now that the full list of athletes competing at the 2023 Dubai Fitness Championship has been announced, we can finally review the leaderboard and rank the athletes in terms of podium picks and dark horse picks.

For quick reference, the athletes listed under the Podium Picks section are our choices of athletes who we think will be contending for a spot on the podium. Since there will be more than three names on the list, not all athletes listed in this section of course will be able to land on the podium.

Athletes listed in the Dark Horses section are athletes who we expect to potentially perform well and perhaps better than many in the community believe. These athletes could be fighting for a top-five or top-ten finish.

Let’s begin.

Podium Picks

Roman Khrennikov and Ricky Garard: At first glance, it looks like the title in this competition will depend on who wins the battle between these two men. The last time these two faced each other was at the 2022 Games where Khrennikov ended up finishing in second, and Garard third.

  • Since many of their main competitors are either competing at FitFest in the UK or are simply skipping this event, it’s a very high probability that Khrennikov and Garard take first and second.
  • If we had to guess, we would say Khrennikov wins it all, and Garard in second not far behind, especially since Khrennikov won it back in 2021 with Garard in third.

Lazar Djukic: The other man we strongly predict to fill in the last spot on the podium is none other than the elder Djukic brother, who finished second in 2021, but ended the 2022 event in 12th place. A poor finish for him.

  • Djukic is coming off his third straight CrossFit Games finish inside the top 10 overall and we expect him to carry that momentum into Dubai.

Moritz Fiebig: If someone were to steal that spot from Djukic it would likely be last year’s silver medalist Moritz Fiebig, who actually tied for first place overall with Fabian Beneito, but unfortunately lost the tie-break.

Fabian Beneito: Speaking of Fabian Beneito, can he repeat as champion or did he get lucky last year thanks to the absence of many of the sport’s top athletes?

One more: The last person we want to include here is Chandler Smith, who is coming off of his second career top-ten finish at the Games. He can hang with any of the guys listed above and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him steal third place.

Dark Horse Picks

  • Uldis Upenieks: Although he’s been to the Games for four of the past five years, many people still don’t know who is, but he has a great chance to break into the top five here, especially if there’s a good amount of running or high rep gymnastics.
  • Luka Djukic: Last year Luka finished seventh overall, higher than his brother Lazar, who finished 12th. Now that a few of the men in front of him last year are absent, he may be able to have an even better placing if he stays consistent.
  • Alex Kotoulas: Kotoulas had a great year in Dubai last year as he jumped from 11th in 2021 to fifth in 2022. He also was only 20 points away from Jonne Koski in fourth. Since Kotoulas has yet to make the Games, he can focus all of his training on events like this, and he could cause problems for Upenieks and Djukic.

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