“There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits.”- Michael Phelps
Familiar Faces Find Their Way Back to Madison for the 2023 CrossFit Games
In 2022, the CrossFit Games roster was missing some notable names. During last year’s Semifinals, fans witnessed fierce competition worldwide.
From the Granite Games to the German Throwdown, Strength in Depth to the Torian Pro, tickets were punched, and performances celebrated, while simultaneously hopes were dashed and seasons were abruptly ended.
The big picture: Over the past month, a handful of individuals have made a resurgence at their respective Semifinals and are headed to Madison with added determination.
For these athletes, the comeback is going to be bigger than the setback.
Katrin Davidsdottir placed 2nd at the North America West Semifinal in May, dispelling any worries that she may find herself in jeopardy of not qualifying again this year. In 2022, she placed 6th at Strength in Depth, and then went on to compete at the Last Chance Qualifier, where she placed 3rd. Hearts broke when the two-time Games champion and four-time podium finisher fell short of qualifying. But several weeks ago in Pasadena, fans cheered on an electric and extremely focused version of the Icelandic athlete, who has only seemed to use her 2022 defeat to build strength and determination.
“This is… the happiest I have been out on the competition floor in a long time. I felt focused. I felt confidence in my preparation and I trusted myself,” said Davidsdottir.
“I am so excited to continue building on where we are right now,” said Davidsdottir on an Instagram post. “I have a feeling this will be a summer to remember! Games training is my favorite time of the year and I cannot wait to get back to work.”
Chandler Smith, a perennial fan favorite, finished 10th at the Granite Games in 2022, thus not qualifying for a ticket to Madison. But after the three-time Games competitor managed to compete in Quarterfinals with a broken wrist earlier this year, Smith went on to place 6th at the North America West Semifinal and maintained consistent performances all weekend, never finishing a workout out of the top 20.
“Reports of my demise were greatly exaggerated. Time to get healthy so I can put my best foot forward,” Smith said on Instagram.
38-year-old Jason Smith won the Africa Semifinal mere weeks ago, snagged two test wins and never placed lower than 9th all weekend. Based on this performance, it’s hard to believe that the Games Veteran failed to qualify in 2022; however it was an extremely close race, resulting in a 2nd place finish for Smith by 12 points at the Fittest in Cape Town. This will be Smith’s fourth trip to the Games and on an Instagram post, he has insinuated that it will be his last. Smith will be the oldest individual competing this year in Madison.
Earlier this year, former teen competitor Emma Cary showed the world she was back when she took 3rd place at Wodapalooza in January. She went on to win the North America East Semifinal, racking up a test win and never placed outside of the top 10 all weekend.
Finishing 16th place in her rookie year as an individual at the CrossFit Games in 2021, she looked ahead, setting her sights on the 2022 season, however as the year wore on, an injury kept her from competing.
“Until my back injury, I believed I was mentally tough. I’ve always loved to suffer and been intensely hungry, scrappy, and never satisfied.”
“Overcoming injury made me realize that there is so much more to mental toughness that I was lacking. But I believe adversity shows us who we really are…I also believe we can choose to change and adversity is the best catalyst.”
“I’ve spent the last year in the darkness learning how to handle these things and can now say I’m so grateful for my injury. It showed me that I wasn’t who I wanted to be, but gave me daily opportunities to change that,” said Cary.
Jamie Simmonds was a name greatly missed by many spectators at the 2022 Games. The veteran competed in the 2022 Torian Pro, placing 5th, then placed 5th once again at the Last Chance Qualifier. It was a sad thought that the Kiwi wasn’t going to join the ranks of female athletes in Madison for a second year in a row, as Simmonds underwent shoulder surgery in 2021.
Recovered and ready to compete once again, Simmonds took 1st place at Wodapalooza on a team with fellow Games veterans Laura Horvath and Gabi Migala in January. And in May, a 2nd place finish at the Oceania Semifinal qualified Simmonds, qualifying her for the Games in August for the fourth time.
The bottom line: Overcoming adversity is the common theme for these notable athletes, taking defeat in stride and rallying to compete again when their chance comes. Other names that we are excited to see returning to the Games roster this year are Emma Tall, Bronislaw Olenkowicz, Fee Saghafi and Bethany Flores.
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“I truly have never been more fit than I was going into Semis this year, I’ve never been more focused, have never worked harder than I did this season, and have never enjoyed training more. I think with knowing this, at the end of the day, I can go to bed with a smile on my face regardless of what happened.”
Ten-year CrossFit Games Qualifier Noah Ohlsen discussed his recent illness throughout the Semifinal season and offered his thoughts about adversity:
“Often times, being forced out of something that you’re used to makes you crave it. My hunger to get back to work is stronger than it’s been in a while.”
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Semifinals Stats Breakdown, Part 2: Surprise Athletes
Every year during the Crossfit Games qualification process we see handfuls of new athletes that surprise us and make a name for themselves, and this year these athletes stood out more than ever.
In this post we will be looking at four surprise athletes that punched their first ticket to the Games and did it in extraordinary fashion through test wins, consistent top finishes, and high rankings on the overall leaderboard.
Let’s begin with the man that shocked all of Europe.
The primarily black belt features tiny rainbows along the backside and the slogan “Enjoy The Journey” in white letters on the strap.
“‘Enjoy The Journey’ is a phrase I’ve used my entire competitive career to remind myself that if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing and who you are, you’re not going to be happy or successful,” explained Lewis-Reardon.
The motto isn’t just about the journey of going from everyday affiliate athlete to Games-level competitor, she says. It’s also a nod to her journey of coming into herself—and out as—a gay woman.
For her, the journey also includes coming to terms with and accepting her lesbian identity, and then becoming one of the most out and out-spoken queer people in the CrossFit community.
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