Handstand push-ups have been programmed in every regional and CrossFit Games competition since 2010. They’ve arrived in various forms--from ring handstand push-ups to 9-inch deficit handstand push-ups.
The twist to this year’s programming is a throw back to the early years, before kipping became mainstream. This regional season, the competitors have to do the reps strict.
The new requirement exposed the athletes who haven’t developed the requisite strength in the descending ladder of strict handstand push-ups, front squats, and burpees that started the competition on Saturday.
Soon afterwards, the competitors finished the day with legless rope climbs and sprints.
The overwhelming majority of the women in the first two heats failed to complete the event within the 20-minute time cap, with some failing to perform one handstand push-up.
Ellie Hagopian was the only competitor in the first heat who was able to chip through the strict handstand push-ups without too much struggle (20:34).
“I’m very good at handstand push-ups,” said Hagopian. “It’s actually my freak skill. I could do strict handstand push-ups before kipping pull-ups or ring dips.” Sybil Cooke from Pretoria, South Africa, and Elzke de Goede from Namibia stood out in the second heat (20:23, 20:12). De Goede said adrenaline helped her through Event 4.
“I was actually very concerned about that event, handstand push-ups aren’t one of my strong points, but I guess adrenaline kicked in and I managed to do all of them without any no-reps, so I was very happy with that,” de Goede said.
Cooke said she expected to perform well in the event given her gymnastics background.
“I like handstand push-ups and handstand walking, more than the lifts. So I was happy for this event,” Cooke said.
In the final heat, Nicole Seymour lead from start to end. She set the fastest pace at the start of the event, and was followed closely by Johanni Hugo, Anneke De Beer and Celestie Engelbrecht.
Seymour finished in 15:10--a full three minutes ahead of the rest of the women in her heat.
After the clock hit 18 minutes, De Beer and Engelbrecht were closely matched on the last few reps. De Beer finished in 18:19, followed by Engelbrecht in 18:59.
Hugo was the fourth and final woman in Africa to finish Event 4 within the time cap--with just 14 seconds to spare! She reached the finish mat in 19:46.
The Event 4 win has helped Seymour recover from her 11th place finish on Event 1.
“I knew Event 1 was going to be my weakness, and it set me back quite far,” said Seymour about her 125-lb. hang squat snatch. “But I always say, it’s not over until it’s over, so I’m hoping for the best. Finishing so far ahead in Event 4 was great and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the events.”