Much to everyone’s delight, Pat Barber, post-appendectomy, was on-hand to watch what would have been his heat compete on Day 1. Only his second day back on his feet, Pat said he is fine physically, but the disappoint was obvious on his face. As we walked back to his tent after watching the final men’s heat of Diane he got numerous shout-outs and pats on the back along the way, including one ill-advised slap to the stomach. “I never even considered not coming to cheer on these guys. That was my heat out there. It’s difficult,” he says.
Blair Morrison said Pat is one of those guys in the CrossFit community that he genuinely likes, and feels that the whole Region is stronger when Pat is in the mix. “Pat’s absence obviously makes it easier for a lot of us to qualify for the Games, but I’d rather have a smaller chance with Pat in the mix,” he said.
That sentiment was echoed throughout the top athletes.
“It sucks!” said Zack Height.
These top athletes understand the level of commitment and hard work it takes to make it this far, and Pat’s absence makes it “less cool” to qualify from the Region according to Height.
Joey Warren remembered competing right next to Pat in 2010, and said the event would be much more fun with him in it. Despite the obvious fact that Pat’s absence aids these guys in qualifying for the Games, not a single competitor I spoke with saw it that way. Warren summed it up by saying that no one wants a “free pass to the Games.”
Training partners Neal Maddox and Jason Khalipa have a more personal connection to Pat. Khalipa’s first words were “Pat is a friend.”
Maddox said he was devastated by the news. Jason was with Pat in the hospital and says he feels cheated not having the best out there to compete against. Everyone was very thankful that he will recover and competing again soon, but clearly the Region has lost one of its top male athletes. However, the field is still stacked, and there will be lots of epic performances this weekend devoted to the Manimal.