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Asia Regional Report: The Final Countdown

Published on Sat, 2013-06-01 23:48
By: 
Akshay Mathur & Sonny Bautista

"When I picked up the bar, Candice was in front of me, and I thought, 'If somebody is in front of you, you have to push yourself to catch her," said Tainatongo.

While the women of Asia struggled with Event 6’s handstand push-ups, it was the fat bar that gave the men trouble in the packed KBS 88 Gymnasium earlier today.

We started the day with athletes tackling the team chipper, where a two-way race to the top began, only for CrossFit Misawa to beat CrossFit Asia to the finish line. This resulted in a first place tie between the two steadfast teams, making the upcoming Event 7 a crowd-stopping nail biter.
 
The male competition is quickly turning out to be a one-man race with Michael Mogard, despite him finishing eighth in this event.
 
In a freakish display of lower body strength, Nicole Tainatongo overtook Candice Howe halfway through the lunges to give the crowds its most heart-in-mouth moment yet.
 
“From the waist up I am good enough, but from the waist down Nicole is stronger and she caught up with me,” said Howe, who is looking forward to the rope climb this afternoon.
 
TEAMS
 
Christen Wagner seems intent on getting her team to Carson, California. The only team standing in her way is Daniel Hershey’s CrossFit Misawa.
 
Ending Day Two in second place, CrossFit Misawa had to win both of today’s events in order to qualify for the Games. 
 
They seem to have started their quest on a high note.
 
Both CrossFit Asia and CrossFit Misawa got to the handstand push-up walls at around the 1:20 mark and began knocking out smooth and steady sets from the start.
 
Christen Wagner looked particularly impressive, completing ten push-ups whenever her turn came around. 
 
CrossFit Misawa weren’t too far behind, with both Hershey and Kelly Sussman kipping away five to seven reps at a time.
 
“We practiced this event a couple of times and realized that we needed to keep the reps low to ensure we didn’t burn out,” said Hershey.
 
At around the five-minute mark, both teams moved on to the shoulder-to-overheads and started to mirror each other’s rep count, jerking the bar for five reps initially. 
 
However, it was CrossFit Misawa’s balanced efforts that resulted in them leaping ahead at the 8:55 mark, with CrossFit Asia still needing five more reps to move on to the lunges.
 
Hershey jumped on the axle bar and raced ahead to the finish line, dropping the bar only once at the halfway mark. 
 
Sussman joined him soon afterwards to finish at 10:53.
 
Meanwhile, Naoya Arasaki, Wagner’s male counterpart struggled with the bar. 
 
Wagner could be heard shouting, “Do it!” about two feet from the end line, before they finished second at 11:50.
 
At the end of a very exciting heat, both teams are tied for first. 
 
“We had to win Event 6 to stay in competition for the top spot. It comes down to Event 7. The winner takes it all," said Hershey.
 
Both teams hugged soon after it was over and proceeded to cheer on the other teams who were still going, yet another great show of CrossFit camaraderie. 
 
Event 6
1. CrossFit Misawa (10:53)
2. CrossFit Asia (11:50)
3. CrossFit Sentinel ONE (16:13)
 
WOMEN
 
Nicole Tainatongo has had her eyes on the prize since Day One, and this morning was no different. 
 
The double-unders weren’t an issue to most of the field, but it was Tainatongo who quickly slid under the wooden panel ahead of everyone else to start getting to work on her handstand push-ups. 
 
“My weakness is the handstand push-up, so I trained with them throughout the year. I’m probably going to break it up into tens,” said Tainatongo prior to competing.
 
That didn’t go as planned though, as Tainatongo could only knock out three to four reps at a time. Meanwhile, just beside her, Candice Howe was stringing ten reps at any given time.
 
Howe went on to do her toes-to-bar ahead of Tainatongo, kicking up fifteen unbroken reps before Tainatongo could even chalk her hands and leap towards the bar.
 
Briefly taking a breather after getting the toes-to-bar out of the way, Howe got to the 100-pound axle, cleaned it, and managed to push it overhead for a quick twelve reps before Tainatongo caught up with her. 
 
She continued to trail Howe, with eight more shoulder-to-overheads remaining as Howe began her lunges.
 
Howe was steadily heading towards the finish line until at the halfway mark, when she dropped the bar and stopped for a longer break than is typical of the athlete. 
 
Tainatongo saw the opportunity to pounce and stepped on the gas.
 
“When I picked up the bar, Candice was in front of me, and I thought, ‘If somebody is in front of you, you have to push yourself to catch her,” said Tainatongo.
 
She strode forward with ease, placing one foot ahead of the other without stopping to rest. 
 
Howe was simply unable to match Tainatongo’s power. She shifted into overdrive and got to the finish line as the crowd roared their loudest cheers yet.
 
“From the waist up, I’m good enough, but from the waist down, I’m not,” explained Howe, as she caught her breath post-event.
 
Event 6
1. Nicole Tainatongo (12:13)
2. Candice Howe (12:33)
3. Loreidana Ballesteros (15:07)
 
MEN
 
Ben Thompson is a newcomer to the Asia region. 
 
Placing tenth in the Open, we all knew he was capable of an all round good performance, but no one expected him to finish first in three out of seven events.
 
While all eyes were on the middle rig stations, where Mogard, Justin Ahrens and Joseph Rank were competing, it was Thompson at the far end who put on a show with his fast and furious handstand push-ups.
 
After finishing, he stealthily moved on to the toes-to-bar, well before anyone else was even close to starting.
 
Knocking out a very precise 25 reps in his first set, the ex-endurance athlete’s calculated approach worked to his advantage.
 
“I break down every event in my head. I planned to break the toes-to-bar into two sets of 25 and 15, which I did,” said Thompson.
 
No one came close to toppling Thompson when he approached the heavily loaded axle, during which Mogard had not even finished his toes-to-bar.
 
Weighing in at 169 pounds, the shoulder-to-overheads could have potentially posed a problem. But not for the technically minded Thompson, who executed 30 almost perfect split jerks to progress to the lunges at the 09:50 mark.
 
“Chris Spealler is my idol, I admire his ability to lift heavy, through perfect technique,” revealed Thompson.
 
He dropped the bar halfway, only to pick it up in an instant and raced to the finish. 
 
Mogard adopting a wait and watch strategy, chipping away at his shoulder-to-overheads three at a time.
 
“My strategy for the whole week has been to start slow, relax and get stronger,” said Mogard, explaining his pre-meditated and calm approach.
 
With only one event to go, Mogard’s ticket to Carson is all but confirmed and he’s looking forward to the last event of the day.
 
“Squatting 225 pounds is not my strength, but I am very excited and looking forward to the last event,” said the athlete. 
 
Event 6
1. Ben Thompson (11:09)
2. Cameron Currie (12: 21)
3. Shingo Moromasa (12:54)

 

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