“Patience and fortitude conquer all things.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
2023 CrossFit Semifinal Preview: Torian Pro
The Oceania Semifinal is returning to the Torian Pro, Brisbane Australia on May 26-28, 2023, albeit missing several of Oceania’s top athletes.
In the women’s division, 2023 will be the first CrossFit Games season without either the six-time Fittest-On-Earth and new mom, Tia Clair Toomey or 10-times Games veteran and soon-to-be-mom-of-two Kara Saunders, on the competition floor since 2015 and 2012 respectively.
On the men’s side, 2022’s third Fittest-On-Earth, Ricky Garard will also be absent due to a season-ending shoulder injury.
The Oceania teams have been putting in solid Games performances over the last two years, and the line-up for 2023 from this region looks even stronger than previous years. Can an Oceania team make it onto the podium in 2023?
Oceania has been allocated three Games spots in the Womens, Mens and Team divisions.
Don’t let the absence of Tia-Clair Toomey and Kara Saunders fool you – the competition for the three 2023 NoBull CrossFit Games spots from the Oceania region will be fierce with no obvious shoo-ins to mention.
There’s a lot of experience in the Women’s Torian Pro Semifinal line-up. Out of the 30 athletes competing for a spot at the Games, five have previous Games experience as individuals:
Madeline “Maddie” Sturt – four-times Games athlete
Jamie Simmonds – four-times Games athlete
Ellie Turner– two-times Games athlete
Laura Clifton – two-times Games athlete
Katelin Van Zyl – one-time Games athlete
Who to Watch
Katelin Van Zyl is a seasoned veteran in the Oceania region. With an impressive first place Quarterfinal finish in Oceania this year, coupled with her previous Games experience as an individual in 2019, and in the Team division on CrossFit Urban Energy in 2021 and 2022, a strong performance at the Semis could see her punch her second ticket to the Games as an individual.
Ellie Turner is Oceania’s highest ranked athlete in 2023. She had two Worldwide Event wins in the Quarterfinals, and with two years competing at the Games as an individual Turner is a serious contender for a ticket to the Games this year.
Jamie Simmonds has had a strong start to the Games season in 2023, finishing second in the Oceania Quarterfinals. As a four-times individual Games veteran, Simmonds is an athlete to watch. After shoulder surgery in 2021 she is looking like a real contender for one of the three Games spots in the Oceania region. Simmonds is the only athlete competing at the Torian Pro this year that has stood on the podium at the Games.
Maddie Sturt is a four-time individual Games competitor. She finished a solid tenth in the Oceania Quarterfinals, despite battling a back injury. Will we see her back at the Games for 2023?
Briony Challis finished 3rd place in the Oceania Quarterfinals and competed in the Team Division in 2022 for CrossFit EFX. Can she secure her ticket to the Games this year as an individual?
Laura Clifton finished 6th in the Oceania Quarterfinals this year and with two previous Games appearances as an individual in 2020 and 2021, she is an athlete to watch.
Georgia Pryer is an up-and-coming athlete in Oceania. Pryer finished fifth in the Oceania Quarterfinals, so she is definitely an athlete to keep an eye in at the Torian this year. Will she be able to land a top three finish and a ticket to Madison?
With shoo-in Ricky Garard out due to a season-ending shoulder injury early this year, the competition for the three Games spots in the Oceania region will be a thriller in the Men’s division.
Out of the 30 athletes competing at the Torian Pro, there are three athletes with Games experience as individuals:
Jay Crouch, three-times Games athlete
James Newbury, four-times Games athlete
Zeke Grove, four-times Games athlete
We also have a two former Teen-division Games athletes making the leap to the Men’s division for the first time at the Torian Pro Semifinal:
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Steph Chung Returns To The Competition Floor While Balancing PA School & Training
As the sport of CrossFit has grown over the years, so too has the time and dedication required to be a top-performing athlete in the sport. Gone are the days of the weekend warrior sliding into a qualifying spot at their local regional. Instead, many of the athletes competing at Semifinals dedicate their entire lives to the sport, earning their living from competing and endorsement deals.
But there always remain a few exceptions. One of those is 31-year-old Steph Chung. In 2018, Chung took 35th at the CrossFit Games. In 2021, she would return to Semifinals, taking 8th at Granite Games (despite an elbow injury) and move on to the last chance qualifier, where she ultimately missed out on qualifying for the Games.
CrossFit Affirms Relationship with NOBULL for the 2023 Season
Anyone who made it to Orlando for the North America East Semifinal (and the stands were packed!), or who follow certain Instagram accounts noticed that NOBULL was surprisingly absent from Vendor Village, despite having a large piece of real estate reserved prior to the event.
Remind me: Three years ago CrossFit and NOBULL signed a partnership agreement.
On March 1, 2021, CrossFit announced a three-year deal with NOBULL, not only as the title sponsor of the CrossFit Games, but also the Official Footwear and Apparel Sponsor of CrossFit as well.
Throughout that time,the prize purse for Semifinals and the Games has increased each year. This year the purse at Semifinals is $431,000 and at the Games is $2.945 million.
Recently however, there have been some developments raising questions across the community.
He said, “While this news may be surprising to some, it didn’t happen overnight. I’m proud of how I got to this moment. I’m grateful for the opportunity I received back then. But I’m ready to focus my energy on all the amazing people and opportunities around me.”
Then, shortly before the first week of Semifinals, NOBULL laid off a significant number of employees.
According to some accounts, this included as much as half of their entire staff, or 75 people.
What they’re saying: “Regrettably, yesterday we announced that we are reducing our staff at NOBULL,” said Marcus Wilson and Michael Schaeffer, NOBULL Co-Founders.
“We are a young company and have enjoyed extraordinary momentum since our launch in 2015, but the challenging economic climate has forced us to make the incredibly difficult decision to restructure to safeguard the brand for the future.”
“As a founder-led business, our employees are our family. This was an incredibly hard decision for us to make. Those impacted were dedicated to the NOBULL brand, and we are so grateful to them,” they concluded.
Week 2 Semifinals Team Preview: North America West, Oceania, and South America
With one week down and two weeks to go, week 2 of the 2023 Semifinal season kicks off this weekend with 3 semifinals on 3 continents. This week, we’ll see teams from North America West, Oceania, and South America battle it out for one of the few coveted spots at the 2023 CrossFit Games.
North America West:
Perhaps one of the most competitive regions in the world, North America West boasts an average worldwide Quarterfinals ranking of 142 amongst its teams. It is also home to three teams in the top ten worldwide, as well as the number two ranked team worldwide, CrossFit Invictus.
The Sea of Green Takes Pasadena: Since 2009, CrossFit Invictus has been one of the most dominant teams in the sport of fitness, sending at least one team to the Games every year since 2009. In that time, they’ve had multiple teams stand on the podium and have taken home one affiliate cup championship.
This year, Invictus had five teams from two of their three affiliates (San Diego, Boston, and Seattle) rank in the top 50 of their respective regions and three teams qualify for Semifinals. Of those three teams, 100% of them are currently ranked in the top ten in North America West, with two ranked in the top three. This means Invictus not only has a realistic chance of putting two teams on the podium this weekend, but also qualifying three teams for the 2023 CrossFit Games from one affiliate.
CrossFit Invictus: This year, the same powerful team that took the floor in 2022 and placed third at the CrossFit Games is back and stronger than ever.
During the Open, they ranked fourth worldwide and only continued to improve throughout the season, finishing Quarterfinals in second worldwide and first in North America West.
CrossFit Invictus Unconquerable: With only one finish outside of the top ten during Quarterfinals, Invictus Unconquerable is currently seeded third heading into semifinals and features Games veteran Eric Carmody.
He will be joined by Jessica Smith, Tyler Soderback, and Emily Rethwill.
CrossFit Invictus Sea of Green: Currently ranked seventh coming out of quarterfinals, CrossFit Invictus Sea of Green could potentially earn CrossFit Invictus their third team at the CrossFit Games this weekend.
Unlike CrossFit Invictus Unconquerable and Team CrossFit Invictus, the CrossFit Invictus Sea of Green is comprised solely of San Diego gym based members who come to regular CrossFit classes on a daily basis.
“These are not professional athletes, but they are the heartbeat of our community…the people who make time to train hard and improve themselves despite the demands of work and family,” CrossFit Invictus wrote.
“This group is the ultimate representation of what CrossFit is all about…learning new skills and improving capacity that can be applied to all fitness endeavors.”
How to Watch the 2023 Torian Pro, Oceania Semifinals
Week two of the 2023 CrossFit Games Semifinals begins with Queensland, Australia’s Torian Pro. Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena will host 30 men, 30 women, and 20 teams, all competing to earn one of three spots at the CrossFit Games in Madison, WI.
The Oceania region has been known for years as home of CrossFit Games legends, Kara Saunders and Tia-Clair Toomey, and comeback kid Ricky Garard, but with all three athletes out this season, we’re looking forward to jaw-dropping performances from a roster full of athletes looking to either make it back to the biggest stage in the sport, or to breakthrough for the first time. Kicking off at 9:00am local time, fans in the Western Hemisphere will be able to tune in starting on Thursday evening.
Here’s everything you need to keep up with the action this weekend:
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