Mat Fraser, Tia-Clair Toomey Discuss Unique 'Family Bond', Pushing Each Other to Greatness (Exclusive)

Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey are two of the most decorated athletes in CrossFit Games history. They have combined for seven gold medals and four silver medals since they started CrossFit and neither has finished outside of the top two in the Reebok CrossFit Games. These two athletes sit atop the sport, and they just happen to train with each other in Cookeville, Tennessee.

Prior to the start of the 2020 Reebok CrossFit Games, the defending champions sat down with PopCulture.com for an exclusive interview. They discussed moving from Vermont (Fraser) and Australia (Toomey) and organically becoming training partners. The duo also explained what makes their relationship work and how they push each other to be great. Although both champions do have to avoid pushing each other so much that they get hurt.

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"You know, I think that when we first moved here to Cookeville, we never really thought or looked into actually, 'Oh, wow, we will be training with Mat Fraser on a daily basis,'" Toomey told PopCulture. "Our relationship happened so organically and kind of wasn't expected to be honest. I was very conscious of making sure that, 'OK, look, we're both very competitive people, it's very important that we don't burn each other out.' That you have two champions that are just so competitive and, have a bit of an ego, I guess, if you will.

"And neither one of us want to lose, but honestly, over the last two years, it couldn't have been more of a healthy relationship competitively, and friendly as well," she continued. "And we are very, very similar in a lot of traits, but we are so different in a lot of traits too, I like to look at that relationship more of... honestly, I'm surprised we are not biological brother and sister. Because we'll argue and disagree on certain things, but then we could not be more protective of each other and we just get along so, so well with that respect. And the fact that we get to train together every day, it's really, really cool. I think we'll look back on this and just be so grateful that we live some of our best years doing what we love together."

As evidence of their bond, both Fraser and Toomey enjoy teasing and pranking each other. She will scare him coming out of the bathroom while he will accuse her of putting on makeup before cameras film them working out. The banter is all in good fun and helps keep their training sessions entertaining.

While CrossFit athletes head to Carson, Madison and other competition floors around the world with the intention of performing well, you can see something different in the eyes of Fraser and Toomey. The two champions have a fire inside — a killer instinct. When they walk onto the competition floor, they do so looking to crush the opposition. This fierceness also translates to their training sessions.

"Oh man, training with Tia is a ... oh man, I'm trying to think of the right word," Fraser said with a huge grin on his face. "I mean, it's interesting. Because we both give it everything. Everything we do is competitive. And I mean she is the most well-rounded training partner I've ever had. I've trained with a lot of people and there's certain things... it's like, 'Oh, okay. You beat me on that running workout, but now we're doing ring muscle ups and I know that's a huge hole for you.' Tia doesn't have any of those. So there's no resting on my laurels for anything."

Heading into the first-ever virtual CrossFit Games, Fraser and Toomey will have the opportunity to cheer each other on during the eight events of Stage 1. The CrossFit rules prevent them from working out at the same time and racing each other, but they can still provide motivation and chase each other's times. Although the former Olympic weightlifter in Toomey said that she will try to beat her training partner's weight on the one-rep max front squat event.

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Following the online stage on Friday and Saturday, the final five men and women will prepare for their trips to Dave Castro's family's ranch in Northern California, where the Games originally took place in 2007. This in-person event will run from Oct. 19-25 and will air courtesy of CBS. All of the athletes will partner with an experienced judge from the CrossFit Seminar Staff.

Neither Fraser or Toomey know if they will ultimately reach the final stage of the CrossFit Games, but they both plan on doing so to make history. Fraser could become the first male athlete to win the Games five times, breaking a tie with fellow Cookeville resident Rich Froning. Toomey, on the other hand, made history by winning the Games for the third time in 2019. Now she can extend her streak with a fourth straight gold medal.