June 1, 2013
Asia Regional Report: Pistols, Pain and Perseverance
By Akshay Mathur and Sonny Bautista

"Today, we fight."


With first day jitters out of the way, athletes woke up to face the dreaded Event 4.

They spoke in hushed tones about the first workout of Day Two and their chances of surviving the requisite 400 reps. 
“I am confident and excited about Day Two. I know I can beat some of the girls if I get to the snatches on time,” said three-time Asia Regional competitor Candice Howe.
Things didn’t go as planned for Howe, as she struggled with the pistols and was taken over by Nicole Tainatongo, Rhett Chase and Kimberly Althoff.
The Team heats on the other hand went exactly as expected, with Reebok CrossFit Asia coming out on top, leaving CrossFit Misawa in the dust.
The male athletes fought closely, but ultimately came to a close with Ben Thompson and Tanner Shuck tying for the top position. 
Individuals going team has been a trend across Asia this year, with both 2012 Regional winners, Christen Wagner and Daniel Hershey, forming CrossFit Asia and CrossFit Misawa respectively.
Constantly looking back at his teammates, Hershey, who was the second male athlete to start his set of wall balls, quickly progressed to chest to bar pull-ups and butterflied till the end.
“My strategy was to go as fast as possible on the chest-to-bars,” said Hershey, who put his team in the lead during the first half of the event.
However, things changed dramatically when the women of CrossFit Asia took over. Wagner was the first athlete to hit the floor and quickly showed how beautiful chest-to-bar pull-ups can really be.
She went ahead to perform her first 16 unbroken chest-to-bars, got through her pistols without a break, and paused on her dumbbell snatches only when waiting for her fellow teammate to finish her pistols.
“Gymnastic skills are our strong suit. And even though Christen is recovering from a shoulder injury, it did not slow her down,” said Tara Mccall, a team member.
The women of CrossFit Asia continued their dominance by being at least 15 reps ahead of CrossFit Misawa at all times, coming out triumphant, as was no doubt intended.
In the end, CrossFit Misawa finished almost two minutes behind the winning team.
“We absolutely need to win the next three events,” said a despondent Hershey.
Event 4
1. CrossFit Asia (20:52)
2. CrossFit Misawa (23:06)
3. CrossFit Sentinel ONE (26:02)
“Today, we fight.”
Such was Day One leader Nicole Tainatongo’s reply when asked about what the agenda for the day was. By the way Event 4 ended, it appears she did just that.
Everyone started conservatively with careful movements and a planned pace in the wall balls, just trying to chip a few reps at a time out of the required hundred. 
Then came the chest-to-bar pull-ups, which proved to be tough for all.
“I knew the chest-to bar pull-ups were going to be my biggest challenge, and I thought to myself, just get through it,” said the eventual winner Tainatongo.
Going unbroken on the bars was never going to happen, as Howe was having to make do with only three reps at a time. 
In spite of the fact she was clearly struggling on the pull-up bar, she still managed to be first on the one-legged squats. Katherine Althoff and Rhett Chase quickly followed. With Howe still catching her breath, Tainatongo sneaked in and joined the 4-way race.
The pistols didn’t seem to be a problem for the girls. In fact, they presented a chance for Althoff to keep going for one of the top finishing spots.
“I was dying on the chest-to-bar pull-ups, but then at the pistols, when I saw Nicole and Candice, something happened. I fought really hard to the end,” said the spiky-haired, tattooed crowd favorite.
It was evident however that Tainatongo wouldn’t give up so easily.
“I’m pretty good at pistols, so I used that to my advantage. There is not a lot to strategize about pistols, you just have to keep going,” explained Tainatongo. 
From then on, she never looked back, proceeding to comfortably complete the most dumbbell snatches for the female athletes, nine reps ahead of Chase.
Tainatongo wowed the crowds at last year’s Asia Regional with beautifully smooth and seemingly easy heavy dumbbell snatches.
“I am glad they were only fifty pounds this year. I guess training on a seventy-pound dumbbell was an advantage,” Tainatongo explained.
Event 4
1. Nicole Tainatongo (26:12)
2. Rhett Chase (26:21)
3. Katherine Althoff (26:26)
Vijay Raj provided the theatrics that the Asia crowd knows him so well for, by managing to edge out Yousef Albaqsami, with a great display of endurance and strength in Heat 2.
“I have a bad shoulder, which slowed me down in all the movements – I could only do the pistols effectively. Unexpectedly I was able to get to the snatches,” said the humble athlete and CrossFit Level 1 seminar staff member.
But the show didn’t end with Vijay’s performance. 
Top ranked athletes made their way to the floor and many faced troubles with not only the chest-to-bars, but also the pistols.
The one legged squat proved to be Ram Dover’s Achilles heel, as he struggled to do beyond three reps.
“He said he couldn’t put any extra strain on one leg, so he decided to sit this one out,” explained his judge, Mary Rezendes.
Timmy Jacobsson’s inability to lock his arms out at the bottom of the chest-to-bars meant he was the last one to join the pistol party in Heat 4.
Ben Thompson faced no such problems. The ex-endurance athlete ran through his wall balls and chest-to-bars with no issues.
Joining him on the pistols mat was Justin Ahrens, who was set on cycling 5 butterfly chest-to-bar reps each and every time he was on the bar.
Michael Mogard and Tanner Shuck joined Ahrens and Thompson on the pistol mats at around the 13-minute mark.
Mogard, one of the more seasoned competitors of the Asia Regional, seemed eager to finish and had to look around to get a sense of his standing.
“Looking around can hurt you, but can also give you extra motivation to dig deep,” said the athlete, who finished top of the Leaderboard on Day One.
Meanwhile, Thompson sped ahead, and then hit the proverbial dumbbell snatch wall. 
“This dumbbell is almost half my body weight!” exclaimed the 170-pound athlete, who visibly struggled with the snatches.
What he did not expect was a late surge from Shuck. And so began the battle.
Thompson arrived at his snatch station at around the 17-minute mark. Shuck, in spite of arriving almost two minutes later, caught him as they both approaches 80 reps.
With Mogard following closely, Shuck managed one last rep as the air horn went off, to tie with Thompson at 88 reps, bringing to end a nail-biting and painful Event 4.
Event 4
1T. Ben Thompson (25:12)
1T. Tanner Shuck (25:12)
3. Michael Mogard  (25:32)