May 24, 2013
Africa Regional Report: Make It or Break It
By Jolene Raison, Candice Tehini and Kirsty Roebuck

Only two teams remain after Day 1 in Africa.
View more photos here.

The events no one was waiting for — the burpee muscle-ups will be sending many teams home and the overhead squats can make or break an athlete.

Come in too high on the lifts, miss them and go home. Play it safe and lose points you’ll need later on.

The atmosphere is strained. It’s the muscle-ups that have had athletes in the box for hours, going home with eyes red and palms bleeding. The crowd is cautiously supportive and there’s last minute coaching happening in corners.


It was a sub-100 kg finish for many of the women in the first heat of Event 2 Things got a little heavier in the second heat, but as the three-rep opening lifts were missed and the bars smashed to the ground, so did the dreams of many of the 2013 athletes.

The final heat rolled out the heavy weights. The crowd was expecting big things from Olympic Lifter Mona Pretorius, as well as Rika Diedericks. A deceptively petite Pretorius, dwarfed by Diedericks on the platform next to her made the heaviest lift of the day: 185 lbs., for two reps. The crowd pleaded for more after Diedericks made 160 lbs. lift look easy, she signalled with her hands that she wasn’t going for another one.

“I made a strategic decision to start with a lower weight,” she said afterward. “Gymnastics are still not my strongest,” and the rings were next.

Carla Nunes da Costa sounded disappointed despite taking third place in the heat with her 150-lb. lift. She miscalculated the weight when she converted from pounds to kilograms and lifted less than planned.

The raw emotion and despair on the rings was heartbreaking. Of the 34 women who faced off with the rings, only 15 will be walking back into the arena tomorrow.

Nunes da Costa paced her way through the muscle-ups with such stealth that she was near invisible until she popped up onto the scoreboard to take first place for the event. She was followed by Diedericks and Anneke de Beer tied for second place.

Pretorius struggled, kicked and wriggled her way through the muscles-ups, but ended seventh in the event.

“The overhead squats were my event, but I felt a bit fatigued by the muscle-up,” she said.

Event 2
1. Mona Pretorius (185.2)
2. Rika Diedericks (160.3)
3. Carla Nunes da Costa (150.3)

Event 3
1. Carla Nunes da Costa (7:11)
2. Anneke De Beer (7:13)
2. Rika Diedericks (7:13

1. Rika Diedericks (5)
2. Carla Nunes da Costa (7)
3. Celestie Engelbrecht (14)


The weights slammed hard and moved fast as the men took to the platform. They went into the lifts without hesitation, but with every rep counting, the squats were deep and the moves controlled.

The first three heats passed with an ascending scale of weights and the elimination of four men. There were shouts of anguish and frustration and victory from the athletes as they struggled underneath and occasionally out of the way of the bar.

It was heat four that brought the level of excitement and the scale of weights the crowd was hungry for.

Neil Scholtz took first place in the event with a 265-lb. lift, sending the crowd into a frenzy and narrowly beating Jaco van der Vyver’s  265.2. Following behind was David Levey and Gian Smith, both at 255.

All the men who made it through the overhead squats made it through at least one muscle-up. In a touching display, CrossFit PBM athlete Wilna Appel, coached her husband Wynand Appel through every attempt.

Levey, who professes a love for overhead work, led the men in the muscle-ups. Jason Smith followed in second and Dean Shaw.

“I feel very disappointed after the muscles-ups,” said Smit, whose performance in Event 3 dropped him ninth overall.

Event 2
1. Neil Scholtz (265.3)
2. Jaco Van der Vyver (265.2)
3. David Levey (255.3)
3. Gian Smit (255.3)

Event 3
1. David Levey (5:54)
2. Jason Smith (6:04)
3. Dean Shaw (6:41)

1. David Levey (5) 
2. Jason Smith (16) 
3. Neil Scholtz (20) 


At the end of Day 1, only two teams remain. For many teams, those two wooden rings were way out of reach.

With waves and wishes of good luck, the men and women divided themselves between the platform and the rings. What followed on the platform was a blurred mix of lifts and stripping off of weights and rolling of barbells. While over at the rings, clouds of chalk dust hung over the athletes at they dropped to the ground again and again.

It was only CrossFit PBM and CrossFit Platinum that earned a place to compete on Day 2.  

“It felt as if we were running short of time, but we caught up at the end,” said a team member on CrossFit PBM.

CrossFit Platinum leads the teams at the end of day one with CrossFit PBM in second.  

Event 2
1. CrossFit Platinum (1130)
2. CrossFit PBM (1100)
3. CrossFit Pretoria (940)

Event 3
1. CrossFit PBM (75)
2. CrossFit Platinum (52)

1. Team CrossFit Platinum (6)
2. Team CrossFit PBM (7)