The 2020 CrossFit Games started on Friday with a unique format. Sixty total athletes competed virtually around the world, completing seven events without knowing their peers' times or weights while trying to secure a spot among the top five athletes in their divisions. Ultimately, defending champions Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey continued their dominant runs and finished the first stage in first place overall.
The four-time champion in Fraser secured wins in four of the seven events and finished inside the top eight on the other three. He finished the two-day virtual stage with a 168-point lead over Noah Ohlsen, who finished in second place during the 2019 CrossFit Games. Ohlsen will now join Fraser in Aromas, California, in mid-October as they fight for the title of Fittest Man on Earth. A trio of rising stars will join them for the trip.
Let’s talk about benchmarks and why they’re important to the CrossFit methodology.
Benchmark workouts, being exemplars of the CrossFit ideal, give us the opportunity to lay bare some of the possibly unseen considerations and details we weigh in our programming design. pic.twitter.com/7AZrkM3ki9— CrossFit (@CrossFit) September 19, 2020
While such athletes as Patrick Vellner, Brent Fikowski and Chandler Smith drew attention as possible options to take part in the CrossFit Games finals, they all finished outside the top five. Instead, 21-year-old Justin Medeiros finished third overall and booked his first trip to the CrossFit Games. Samuel Kwant, on the other hand, will make his fourth appearance at the Games, but he will automatically achieve a career-best finish. The 24-year-old has never cracked the top-10 during his CrossFit career, but he will do so when he heads to Aromas.
Finally, Canada's Jeffrey Adler will make his second consecutive trip to the CrossFit Games. The 26-year-old took part in 2019's competition, but he quickly left after the first round of cuts. Now he will achieve a career-best finish in Northern California, regardless of how he performs during the second stage of the CrossFit Games.
On the female side, Toomey told PopCulture.com prior to the Games that she "couldn't feel any fitter" as she prepared to pursue a fourth consecutive championship title. She explained during the exclusive interview that she has been putting in a ton of work and was ready to showcase this effort during the virtual competition. Toomey did just that while winning four events of her own.
Along with Toomey, Nashville transplant Brooke Wells will make her sixth consecutive appearance at the Games. Wells previously achieved a career-best sixth-place finish in 2016, and she will now top that mark by competing in Aromas. Similarly, 19-year-old Haley Adams will return to the Games for the second consecutive year as an adult. The Cookeville resident, who trains with four-time champion Rich Froning, finished sixth overall in 2019 and has hopes of reaching the podium for the first time in her career.
Achieving victory will not be a simple task considering the final two female athletes heading to Aromas. Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir is a two-time CrossFit Games champion, and she also has a third-place finish to her name. The Iceland native has made seven previous trips to the Games and has only finished outside the top five twice.
The final female athlete to reach the second stage is Kari Pierce. The former Michigan gymnast has five previous appearances at the CrossFit Games and two top-five finishes. She notched her third simply by booking her trip to Aromas, but Pierce is on a mission to reach the podium for the first time.
The CrossFit Games finals will feature a fully-produced live and in-person competition with the 10 remaining athletes. The events will take place at "The Ranch" in Aromas, California, from Oct. 19-25. CBS Sports will provide coverage (in the United States) while the CrossFit Games' Facebook and YouTube channels, as well as games.crossfit.com, will provide additional coverage.