The individual competition in Africa kicked off with some big news: Several top competitors will not compete this weekend.
The top-seeded woman in the region and 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games competitor, Rika Diedericks, arrived in Johannesburg and soon announced her withdrawal due to an unspecified injury.
Eighth-seeded Alan Foulis also withdrew due to injury. He had dislocated his elbow while training two weeks ago, and did not feel comfortable competing this weekend.
Sixth-ranked Mohamed Abou Auf was notably missing from Athlete Check In. Auf serves in the Egyptian army, and was unable to get permission to leave the country. This is the second consecutive year that Auf has qualified for the regional, but been unable to compete.
Perhaps the most significant news of the day, however, was Jean-Claude Jardim’s disqualification. The Zimbabwean athlete took second in the Open in Africa, however, it was revealed that he performed all of the Open Workouts in Australia, which renders him ineligible to participate in the Africa Region this year.
With the women’s 2014 and 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games qualifiers, Carla Nunes da Costa and Mona Pretorius, out of the regional this year, and David Levey present but suffering from several niggling injuries, there is a strong chance that there will be two new representatives at the CrossFit Games.
Event 1 & 2
In the one-rep max hang squat snatch event that started the weekend, two veteran regional competitors and a rookie lifted the heaviest weights.
Hannes du Toit got 240 lb. overhead, while 21-year-old Ivan Kruger successfully snatched 245 lb. before attempting 265 lb. for his third and final attempt. Although he did not get 265 lb., his previous snatch was good enough to hold second in the event.
Four-time regional competitor Jason Smith edged out Kruger for the win by successfully snatching 265 lb.
Two minutes after showing their skill at Olympic lifting, the competitors had to prove their skill at gymnastics movements in the max distance handstand walk (Event 3).
Unsurprisingly, a former gymnast came out on top. Andre Gadney, a former South African gymnast, crossed the 120-foot competition floor, and came within 25-feet of finishing his second pass of the floor before he lost his balance and fell. With a 215-foot handstand walk, Gadney sealed the event win.
Gadney was followed by rookie competitor Roman Chausse. Chausse doesn’t have a gymnastics background, but he was plenty comfortable on his hands. The athlete with a background in water polo, rugby, and boxing managed to walk 205 feet.
A total of seven men reached the end of the competition floor, and started their second pass. Wade Bothwell, Dean Shaw, Nico van der Walt, and Frik O’Callaghan all stopped between 175 and 195 feet.
With a 205-lb. hang squat snatch and 100-foot handstand walk, two-time Africa Regional champion David Levey took a hit on the leaderboard. The two performances earned 19th and 17th place finishes, which will be quite a large hole for him to dig himself out of over the next two days.
Levey said that under the circumstances, he is happy with his performance.
“I’ve had a few niggles. I’m coming off a bit of a shoulder injury, and you know how your mind can play tricks on you (after an injury),” Levey said.
“I was okay with the 205-lb. (hang squat snatch). I got 220 in practice but I tweaked my back this week so things were a bit tougher. The handstand walk, I would’ve like to finish one length and started on the next, but I just lost my balance. I was a bit upset about that because my shoulders felt good. But that’s how it goes,” he added.
Event 1 Results
1. Jason Smith (265 lb.)
2. Ivan Kruger (245 lb.)
3. Hannes du Toit (240 lb.)
Event 2 Results
1. Andre Gadney (215 feet)
2. Roman Chausse (205 feet)
3. Frik O’Callaghan (195 feet)
In Event 3, Nasty Girls V2, the hang squat snatch event winner Jason Smith continued to separate himself from the rest of pack.
His game plan?
“Give 110% in every single workout,” said Smith. “I’ve trained hard enough for this, and I’m going to leave it all out there on the dance floor. I’m not going to walk away with any regrets.”
Smith’s pace was unrelenting. He went unbroken on all his muscle-ups and almost gave no one else a chance (9:31). Smith’s only real challenger was Andre Gadney who finished 13 seconds behind him (9:44).
“I went into the heat with a game plan, and kind of just stuck to it,” Gadney said. “When we started out there were three or four guys ahead of me (on the pistols). I wasn’t sure what I needed to do so I thought I would just stick to my pace, hang in there, get the second round finished and then look up and see who is still ahead of me. I got there and I heard Jason (Smith) was already on the rings and I was only on my second set of pistols, so I thought I would just let him go and not burn myself out but just make sure I stay ahead of everybody else.”
The strategy played out well because when Gadney got to the bar for his last set of 10 175-lb. hang power cleans, Smith was still going.
“If I had noticed that I probably would have given it more of a push, but I got two no-reps in the end, so I was happy with that finish,” said Gadney.
Louis Achadinha followed another 22 seconds later for third (10:06). Achadinha trains with Gadney, and at 72-kg bodyweight (158 lb) he’s one of the lightest competitors in the top 10.
Event 3 Results
1. Jason Smith (9:31)
2. Andre Gadney (9:44)
3. Louis Achadinha (10:06)
At the close of the first day of competition, Smith leads the overall standings with a
10-point difference between himself and second-ranked Andre Gadney. Both men suffered on one event today, but put in strong performances on the other two.
Quinton Z Van Rooyen from Namibia (“The land of the brave, sand and good biltong,” according to Van Rooyen), and Billy Pullen of Durban, South Africa, are tied at 24 points.
Van Rooyen said that his aim today was just to get the basics right.
“The snatch and the handstand walk were an easy match-up, and then for Nasty Girls I just had to cycle through those pistols as quickly as possible. That was it,” Van Rooyen said.
Notably, Levey finished the weekend in 9th overall with a 31-point gap between himself and first-ranked Smith.
1. Jason Smith (10)
2. Andre Gadney (20)
3. Quinton Z van Rooyen (24)
4. Billy Pullen (24)
5. Richard Smith (29)
6. Ivan Kruger (34)
7. Louis Achadinha (35)
8. Nico van der Walt (37)
9. David Levey (41)
10. Dean Shaw (43)
Event 1 & 2
Celestie Engelbrecht is pitted to do well in her second regional appearance, and her approach to Event 1 indicated that she backs herself to do so. She opened her one-rep max hang snatch attempt at 155 lb.--higher than any other female was projected to end on. She missed her first attempt, but nailed it the second time. For her third snatch attempt, she increased the weight to 165 lb. but missed.
Engelbrecht’s 155-lb. hang squat snatch put her five pounds ahead of first-time individual competitor Anishce Venter. The 22-year-old competitor from Gauteng, South Africa, snatched 150 lb. for second place.
Tamarr Schroeder and Dina Swift, both successfully snatched 145 lb. for third place.
Schoeder was satisfied with her lift, since she hang squat snatched that weight for the first time earlier this week!
Once again, a gymnast led the max distance handstand walk (Event 2). Engelbrecht is a former national-level gymnast for South Africa, and was able to walk two full lengths of the 120-foot competition floor before accumulating another 30 feet on her third pass. With a total distance of 270-feet, Engelbrecht won the event.
However, the other women didn’t let her take the win easily.
Anneke De Beer, a former acrobat, joined Engelbrecht on the third pass of the competition floor. De Beer lost her balance 15 feet into her third pass, to finish with a total of 255 feet.
Incredibly, De Beer had never walked 120 feet in practice.
“In training we never really walked the full distance,” De Beer said. “We only walked short distances. I hoped for three (lengths), but 255 feet will do.”
All of the women in the top five on Event 2 successfully walked the full competition floor, and at minimum started on their second pass. Eva Thornton, Nicole Seymour, and Johanni Hugo all completed one full length, and walked another 60 to 105 feet of the second pass.
46-year-old Thornton walked the third furthest distance (225 feet), and partially credits her childhood experience in gymnastics.
“I have quite a strong gymnastics background, but that was quite a long time ago. I guess muscle memory always helps so I was quite happy to see quite a bit of gymnastics in these workouts,” Thornton said.
Event 1 Results
1. Celestie Engelbrecht (155 lb.)
2. Anische Venter (150 lb.)
3T. Tamarr Schroeder (145 lb.)
3T. Dina Swift (145 lb.)
Event 2 Results
1. Celestie Engelbrecht (270 feet)
2. Anneke De Beer (255 feet)
3. Eva Thornton (225 feet)
Engelbrecht took the early lead on Nasty Girls V2. She raced away from the rest of the field, leaving Seymour fighting to keep up with the blistering pace.
Engelbrecht maintained her lead right up until the last set of seven muscle-ups, where she started struggling to lock out at the top of the dip. Seymour seized the opportunity to close the gap, and to a roaring crowd she overtook Engelbrecht on the last set of 10 115-lb. hang power cleans.
Engelbrecht had to break the cleans up into sets of two, while Seymour completed the the cleans in two quick sets of five to win Event 3 (12:07). Engelbrecht followed 42 seconds later for second on the event (12:49).
A couple minutes later, Lara Erlank joined them on the finish mat (14:44) for third in the event. Erlank moved to Africa this season after spending time living and competing in Southern California. Last July, she competed with CrossFit Paradiso at the CrossFit Games.
Seymour, Engelbrecht, and Erlank were the only women to finish Nasty Girls V2 within the 16-minute time cap.
Event 3 Results
1. Nicole Seymour (12:07)
2. Celestie Engelbrecht (12:49)
3. Lara Erlank (14:44)
At the close of the first day of competition, Celestie Engelbrecht, Anneke De Beer, and Nicole Seymour hold onto the top three spots.
Engelbrecht put in a commanding performance today with back to back event wins followed by a second place finish on the day’s final event. With just four points, she couldn’t ask for much more.
De Beer, however, isn’t far behind. The acrobat stayed in the top five for all three of today’s events to finish with 11 points.
Seymour is in third despite an event win and top five finish because of an 11th place finish on the hang squat snatch (125 lb.). Now that the strength event has passed, the former gymnast may accelerate. After all, the next couple days promise gymnastics movements like strict handstand push-ups and legless rope climbs that can differentiate the well-trained from the less technically proficient competitors.
Given the women’s strengths, we may see a three-way challenge for first place over the next couple days.
1. Celestie Engelbrecht (4)
2. Anneke De Beer (11)
3. Nicole Seymour (16)
4. Johanni Hugo (22)
5. Charne Smyth (23)
6. Eva Thornton (29)
7. Janine Prinsloo (31)
8. Tamarr Schroeder (33)
9. Jane van der Merwe (39)
10. Odette Calitz (41)