The growth in the Open competition in Africa was incredible. It more than doubled compared to 2011.
The 2012 CrossFit Games Open proved to be a significant event in the lives of many African CrossFitters. The first stage of the CrossFit Games season could be best described as a platform for the rising of new stars, veterans standing their ground, a record of personal bests, epic individual battles and for the strengthening of the African CrossFit community. With the Regional competition less than six weeks away, it’s time to take stock of the Open.
The growth in participation, and the depth of talent in the men’s division in 2012 compared to 2011 was incredible. The Leaderboard revealed a surprise on almost every workout of the Open. The winning score on the first workout was achieved by an unknown, Troy Sender. Sender’s 15-year stint as a South African gymnast had him well poised for the burpee challenge. However, he had never trained the Olympic lifts prior to the Open. In keeping with the trend of surprises, Workout 12.2 identified another dark horse, David Levey.
Levey of new affiliate, CrossFit East London, came out trumps on 12.2 with a respectable score of 80 to tie in 1st place with Games veteran Danie du Preez. While the men’s Leaderboard was to go through much shuffling, Levey’s performance on 12.2 proved to be his first declaration of a shot at winning the Open. At the close of Week 3, most of the names expected to be seen at the top of the Leaderboard cemented their places in the leading pack.
The bulk of the top 10 was almost as expected with the likes of the Smith brothers, Neil Scholtz and Julian Reichman reinforcing their places as Games veterans in Africa. However at the close of the Open, two names in particular stand out from the rest.
Frederik Engelbrecht, an athlete with a CrossFit history of approximately three months, ended the Open in 5th place. The previous arm wrestler is undoubtedly a well rounded athlete and one keep a keen eye on, whether he competes as an individual or in a team.
David Levey’s consistent performances throughout the Open earned him 1st place overall. This appears to have been a real surprise to the community given that most had never heard of him.
All surprises aside, the Regional competition is a markedly different ball game to the Open. Will the leading pack maintain their positions in the next stage of the Games season, and will the victor be a Games veteran or a dark horse?
Perhaps the biggest, and most promising, surprise of the women’s division was the level of participation. The sport of CrossFit has been slow to grasp the female population of Africa. That is certainly changing with 76 women completing the Open this year. Despite the growth in participation, the leaders throughout the Open were very much expected to be placed as they were.
Wilna Appel of CrossFit PBM stormed to the top of the Leaderboard in Week 1. Although Appel is fairly new to the CrossFit community, many had her touted as their favorite to lead the Games season. In week two a tussle for first place began between Appel and Rika Diedericks of Cape CrossFit, while it became evident who the leading five women were likely to be for the remainder of the season.
At the close of Week 3, Appel and Diedericks were still tied in 1st place. Ellie Hagopian, Lauren Guibert and Lorinda van Loggerenberg continued to perform consistently making for an exciting competition at the top of the women’s Leaderboard.
Appel finally broke the tie for 1st after a strong performance in Week 4, and cemented her place as leading lady after winning Workout 12.5, too. Aside from the leading five women, the top 10 on the Leaderboard at the close of the Open reveals many new names such as Beatrix Snyman and Susan Claassen of CrossFit Platinum who are perhaps the most significant to look out for. Will anyone have the might to upset Appel or Diedericks at the Regional competition?
With the strong competition happening in men’s and women’s Open divisions, it would be easy to overlook the performance of Africa’s strongest Masters competitor. Derrick Hill of CrossFit B4C is competing in the 60+ Division, and ended the Open in 12th place, worldwide. Hill began CrossFit to strengthen his back. With two top five finishes in the Open, he is sure to have the Africa Region praying to see him compete at the CrossFit Games in July.
The big story on the team scene is CrossFit PBM. Their athlete’s performances lead them to four 1st place finishes in the Open in a commanding victory over Team Cape CrossFit. Team Cape CrossFit had 53 athletes enter the Open, whereas PBM had 29 enter. The staggering difference between the two teams, however, is the relatively young CrossFit experience in PBM’s athletes when compared to Cape CrossFit. Both affiliates promise to enter strong teams for the Regional competition in what may prove to be a two-team battle for a place in the Affiliate Cup at the Home Depot Center in July.