It was a drama-filled weekend in Wollongong, New South Wales, with world records, eliminations and plenty of upsets in the Australia Regional.
Here is a look at some of the highlights, some of the lowlights and what to expect in two months time at the Home Depot Center.
Kara Gordon’s world record: The 22 year-old from CrossFit Roar went into the weekend as the 5th best qualifier in the region, and would eventually leave crowned the new champion. Her standout performance, however, was easily in Event 2, where she broke the world record in the row/pistols/hang cleans event. Her time of 11:56 smashed the previous mark by 11 seconds and etched her name in the CrossFit history books.
Denae Brown’s comeback: With no one expecting Amanda Allen to be eliminated, Brown knew she had to win the final event to have any chance of sneaking into the top three. She did just that with a brilliant effort, flying through the pull-ups and burpee box jumps, to take out the event. She later broke down in tears of joy when it was announced she would be off to the Home Depot Center.
Chad Mackay’s snatch performance: 12th place finisher at the 2010 CrossFit Games, Mackay was riddled with injuries leading up to Regionals. However, after a slow start in Diane, he worked his way up the Leaderboard with top three finishes in the next three events. But it was the snatch where the veteran took the lead for the first time all weekend. With the crowd behind him, Mackay moved up the ladder one lift after another until he finally faltered at the 275-pound bar.
Schwartz’s CrossFit Melbourne qualifying: By far the most consistent team in the Australia Region over the past few years, Schwartz’s CrossFit Melbourne had never qualified for the Games leading into this year. The team from Victoria, who has produced CrossFitters such as Amy Dracup, Denae Brown, Chris Hogan and Kieran Hogan, finally managed to overcome the heartbreak from the past two years, finishing at the top of the Leaderboard and booked themselves a ticket California.
Philippa Robinson’s performance in the team event: Despite qualifying for the individual event, Robinson chose to represent her team instead, and her decision seems to have paid off. Robinson single handedly lifted CrossFit Athletic into the top three with standout performances in Event 2, where she was the only competitor to rip through 15 hang cleans unbroken, and in Event 3, where she dominated the one hand snatches.
CrossFit streaker: For the second year in a row, the Australia Regional, a streaker made an appearance. Moments after the final workout was completed, the masked man ran onto the arena, completely naked, and performed a quick workout before running away from security. Unlike other sporting events, the crowd and even competitors found it humorous, cheering and laughing during the spectacle.
Amanda Allen’s disqualification: One of the biggest shocks of the weekend. Allen seemed to have Games qualification in the bag heading into the final workout, holding an 11-point advantage over 4th placed Denae Brown. In a remarkable turn of events, Allen who finished 19th at last year’s Games, failed to complete all three rounds of the deadlifts/muscle-ups, which consequently saw her eliminated from the event, making way for Brown. It was a dramatic finish to a brave campaign. The 41-year-old recently overcame a serious leg injury during the Open, and battled a bad case of the flu leading up to the Regional.
Amy Dracup: There was a lot of pressure on the 2011 Regional champ heading into the weekend. Not only did the 30-year-old finish 11th at the Games last year, she was also Australia’s top qualifier through the Open. Unfortunately, she couldn’t live up to expectations, finishing in 7th overall, and failing to qualify for the Games.
Chris Hogan: A dual Games competitor and crowd favorite in Australia, many had tipped Hogan to win the Regional event. However, he never looked like breaking into the top three, with only two top 10 placings all weekend. He ended up finishing in 7th place, missing out on qualification for the first time in three years.
Jason Haywood: A multiple time Regional competitor, Haywood has come so close to qualifying on many occasions. The 26-year-old started the 2012 competition in horrible fashion, finishing 38th in Diane, effectively killing his dreams of making it to the Home Depot Center. Haywood managed to climb his way back up the Leaderboard with some impressive performances over the remaining five events, but fell short again, finishing 6th overall.
After a drama-filled weekend, three women, three men and three teams have earned spots at the CrossFit Games in July. While some of the big names like Hogan, Dracup and Allen failed to qualify, the new faces are sure to be great ambassadors for the egion.
Kara Gordon, 22, will go into her first Games with a Regional title, world record and confidence, while Denae Brown showed everyone she is more than capable of mixing it with the best come July.
New Zealand’s Ruth Anderson Horrell has qualified for the Games again, finishing 2nd overall and will take a wealth of experience with her this time around.
For the men, Chad Mackay and Rob Forte are no strangers to the big stage. The two are in great form and have already proven in the past that they have what it takes.
Brandon Swan, 20, should also be recognized. The youngster was one of the most consistent performers over the weekend and has improved remarkably over the past year taking out 2nd place at the Regional. Who knows what he could do at Carson, Calif.
For the first time Australia will finally send over one of its most consistent teams, with Schwartz’s CrossFit Melbourne securing qualification. They will join Tropic Thunder and CrossFit Athletic in representing Australia in two months time. If these teams are able to stay injury free we could just see an Australian on the podium for the first time.