Since finishing 2nd in the 2011 Latin American Regional, Orlando Trejo has spent the last year making a name for himself in the CrossFit community. With a 2X bodyweight clean and jerk, a 2:16 Fran and an impressive 5th place worldwide finish in the 2012 Open, Trejo walks into Regionals as the clear favorite to win the ticket to Carson, Calif. Many in Latin America are eager to see him not only qualify to the CrossFit Games, but also walk out of the Home Depot Center in July with a podium finish. However some doubt remains, is there any other male competitor who can raise to the occasion and finish the weekend in Cali, Colombia with the gold medal around their neck?
A strong case can be made for David Andrade Salazar, a 30-year-old affiliate owner at CrossFit Quito in Ecuador. Andrade finished 2nd in the Open, with top 10 finishes in four out of the five workouts. What makes his performance even more remarkable is the fact that Andrade was born with Congenital Talipes Equinovarus, a malformation that has forced him to undergo several surgeries.
The Open has shown Andrade does not use his physical disadvantage as an excuse. “CrossFit has taught me how to try to not be at a disadvantage, to find a way, to find the answer ... I have learned to fight against my disadvantages a thousand times more than I had fought before in my life, that’s what CrossFit is all about,” Andrade says.
With a year free of surgeries, a positive mindset and willingness to fight through every single workout, Andrade should be taken seriously at Regionals.
All the way from Argentina, 31-year-old Juan Cruz Sartori has gained the title of the “dark horse of the Open” in the Latin America Region after his fantastic 3rd place finish. This former rugby player, bodybuilder and triathlete, is currently a coach at CrossFit Argos where he trains 5 days a week. As preparation for Regionals, Sartori is doing yoga once a week and follows a strict paleo diet.
Santori’s life dream is to represent his country in an international competition, and the Latin American Regional will finally make his dream come true. Fellow Argentinean Batuque Iribarren is a known name in the Latin American CrossFit community. With an 8th place finish in the Open he is ready to tackle Regionals. “I was born ready. And I have the possibility to win as a competitor,” Iribarren says. “Someone who says they can’t win is not a true competitor. I always compete to win, with humbleness and never giving up I want to finish 1st”, Iribarren says. Clearly “Batu” is not intimidated by Trejo, but if he wants to finish 1st he will need more than confidence to accomplish this.
Coming back to Regionals after a year off due to a shoulder surgery, Doug Oberbeck is also ready to stand up to the challenge. A little known fact about this 25-year-old head coach at CrossFit Cali, is his participation as an individual athlete in the 2010 CrossFit Games. This makes Oberbeck the only individual male competitor of the 2012 Latin American Regionals who has been under the lights at the Home Depot Center. Furthermore, the former basketball and volleyball player from the University of Missouri finds himself competing in his backyard of Cali, Colombia.
Oberbeck might be the only athlete in the region sleeping in his own bed during this strenuous weekend, and that alone is a significant asset. Will Oberbeck’s shoulder stay healthy so he can take on Trejo using his home field advantage?
Not far away from Cali is Medellin, home of Luis Giraldo a bodyweight beast and Muay Thai fighter. The head coach at Fuerza CrossFit would like to stand in the podium of the Latin American Regionals and one day win the CrossFit Games. “I am a great believer in the law of attraction. If I begin thinking and attracting it to me right now, I know I can accomplish it,” Giraldo says.
Another athlete with a winner mentality is Christian Gligo from Panama. “You have to try it, nothing is impossible, anyone can accomplish anything, always train hard and remember no pain no gain, he says.
However Gligo is very aware of reality. “Winning will be tough, it is Trejo’s time, but no one knows what is going to happen.”
A few other names to watch are Tiago Lopes, a dark horse from Brazil who finished 5th for the region in the Open; Evan Yoak from Panama, who did not finish the 2011 Latin America Regionals due to a back injury, but 11th in the Open this year; and Alvaro Lopez also from Panama who finished 12th in the Open this year and 8th in the 2011 Latin America Regionals.
It is said there are good, great and elite athletes in CrossFit. So far Trejo has proven himself in the region and it will be the job of every other top male contender to prove they are elite.
The weekend of May 11-13 will separate the good from the great. Only one male individual athlete will be going to the Home Depot Center. The question remains: Can anyone beat Orlando Trejo?