Not two weeks ago, the Sport of Fitness wrote a new chapter of its history at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin.
Eighty-one medals were awarded across 27 divisions and after 46 events. Victors took home a collective US$2,539,000.
Some champions defended their titles; other divisions crowned new victors. The limits of human capacity were tested across all domains, ages, and abilities, and after the last rep was counted, the verdict was clear: The fittest athletes in the world keep getting fitter.
Read on for a breakdown of some of the most notable records and milestones of the 2021 CrossFit Games.
You probably already know Tia-Clair Toomey made history two weeks ago as the first woman to win five consecutive CrossFit Games championships (she’s also the first woman to win five championships, period). But that’s not all she’s done.
At the 2021 Games, Toomey eclipsed many of her own previous records in the women’s competition and also set some new ones across the board.
In the Individual competition, Toomey leads or is tied for the lead in the following categories:
- Championships (tied): 5
- Silver medals (tied): 2
- Podium finishes (tied): 7
- Top-5 event finishes (tied): 7
- Event wins: 33
- Percentage of events won: 32.67%
- Most consecutive event wins (tied): 6
- Most event wins at the start of the Games: 3
- Top-10 event finishes: 83
- Average event placement: 5.416
- White jerseys: 70
- Wire-to-wire wins: 2
In the individual competition, Toomey holds second or is tied for second in the following categories:
- Point margin of victory: 360 points (CFG20, Stage 2)
- Percentage of total points earned: 95.7% (CFG21)
- Average overall placement (tied): 1.286
- Most event wins in a single Games competition: 9 (CFG21; CFG20, Stage 2)
- Top-2 event finishes: 42
- Top-5 event finishes: 66
Toomey has unquestionably made her mark on the history of the Sport of Fitness, but she wasn’t the only one setting records in Madison.
In just his second CrossFit Games appearance, Justin Medeiros became the youngest male champion in CrossFit Games history — and he did it with just one event win, a true expression of the CrossFit speciality: not specializing. (Other CrossFit Games champions to win gold with just one event win: Jason Khalipa and Caity Henniger, 2008; and Mikko Salo in 2009.)
Other noteworthy facts about Medeiros’ championship season:
- 2021 marked his second-straight podium finish (he took bronze in 2020).
- He took third in the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge, joining the ranks of just four other Games champions who did not win their Regional/Semifinal events leading up to the Games: Tia-Clair Toomey, 2017; Katrin Davidsdottir, 2015; Ben Smith, 2015; and Graham Holmberg, 2010.
- His 57th-place Open finish is the lowest of any Games champion in a Games-winning year.
Other notable medalist stats:
- Replicated her rookie Games in 2018 with another silver medal for the second of her career.
Patrick Vellner and Brent Fikowski
- This season marked the second time the Canadian duo has earned podium positions together. Swapping places from 2017, Vellner took silver while Fikowski took bronze.
- Vellner has four podium finishes (two silver and two bronze).
- Fikowski has two podium finishes (one silver and one bronze).
- 2021 marked her sixth-career Games-podium finish, which is third best overall.
- Now, she has two gold, two silver, and two bronze medals.
- She became just the fourth mother to podium at the Games and the first since 2013 (Valerie Voboril).
- She won her 14th career event win, which is second-most for women and fourth-most overall.
Hardly a day went by at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games when team CrossFit Mayhem didn’t break a record. After leading wire-to-wire all week — which has only ever been done by a Mayhem team (2016, 2018, and 2019) — the team’s top finish marked its fifth Affiliate Cup championship. Ute CrossFit is the only other team to bag multiple cups (2012 and 2013).
- Mayhem athletes have worn the team white jerseys a record 51 times over the course of the team’s career. The next closest is Ute CrossFit with 18.
- The team won the greatest percentage of team points: 95.2%
- Greatest team points-margin of victory: 279
- Most Games career event wins: 29
- Most Games events wins in a single Games: 8
- Mayhem won the first five consecutive events of the Games, which had never before been done by a team.
- Team captain Rich Froning expanded his legacy, now holding nine Games championships (four individual, five team). Including his two silver medals (one individual, one team), he has been on the Games podium 11 times — every Games he has competed in.
Norway’s CrossFit Oslo in second place and France’s CrossFit Genas in third become the first two European teams to be on the Affiliate Cup podium. Eight of the top 10 teams were international, the most in CrossFit Games history. The second most happened in 2016, when four international teams were in the top 10.
CrossFit Oslo and CrossFit Genas both won two events. Meanwhile, CrossFit Invictus’s single event win brought the team’s career total to six, which is tied for third most. Of the seven teams that won events at the 2021 CrossFit Games, five were international.
The 65+ division was introduced for the first time in history during the 2021 season. With it came a new roster of champions and even more record-setting performances.
- Lidia Beer (65+) won her second medal — her first gold — in her seventh Games appearance as a master.
- Susan Clarke (60-64) is now arguably the best Games master of all time after becoming the first five-time masters champion. She has ended the victor in each of her five total Games appearances. With five medals to her name after 2021, she is now tied for the second-most overall. Additionally, she extended her overall masters Games event wins to 25.
- Bianca Williams (60-64) won her third masters silver medal.
- Patricia McGill (60-64) won her second masters medal.
- Laurie Meschishnick (55-59) won her second consecutive masters gold medal and fifth masters medal overall, which moves her into a tie for second-most overall.
- Joyanne Cooper (50-54) won her second masters medal.
- Annie Sakamoto (45-49) won her first masters gold medal and third overall masters medal.
- Jennifer Dieter (45-49) won her first masters medal in her sixth masters appearance.
- Kelly Friel (40-44) capped off an outstanding season with her first career masters championship after winning two silver medals in her prior two masters Games appearances. Friel did great in the individual Quarterfinals this year — 30th in the world according to the cross-continental comparison — and she was the oldest person to compete in the 2021 Semifinals, taking 16th in the CrossFit Lowlands Throwdown.
- Rebecca Voigt Miller (40-44) extended her record for most overall Games appearances to 13, adding a silver medal to go along with her three bronze medals (one individual and two masters). Voigt Miller also competed in the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge Semifinal, where she took 18th.
- Whitney Gelin (35-39) took gold in her masters debut. She is a three-time former Games individual.
- David Hippensteel (65+) won his fourth career masters medal, which moves him into a tie for sixth overall. He also earned two event wins for a total of 10 in his career (tied for eighth overall).
- Will Powell (60-64) is now a four-time masters champion and the first master to win a championship in three different divisions (60-64, 55-59, and 50-54). This is also his fifth masters medal, which moves him into a tie for second-most overall. With his three event wins in 2021, Powell now has the second-most masters career event wins with 15.
- Carl Giuffre (60-64) won his second consecutive Games medal after taking third place in the 60+ division in 2019 and second place this year in the 60-64 group.
- Ron Ortiz (55-59) won his fifth masters medal, which moves him into a tie for second-most overall. With his single event win, he now has 12 for his career, which is tied for fifth-best overall.
- Kevin Koester (50-54) took second place for his third masters medal, the first that wasn’t gold in his three masters Games appearances.
- Brent Maier (50-54) became a four-time masters medalist in his sixth Games appearance.
- Jason Grubb (45-49) won his second consecutive masters championship and his third consecutive medal.
- Mike Kern (45-49) won his second masters medal.
- Justin LaSala (45-49) won his second masters medal.
- Alexandre Jolivet (40-44) won his second masters medal.
- Kyle Kasperbauer (35-39) became just the fourth masters athlete to win their division in the final year of eligibility. He’s won all three of his masters Games appearances; only three other athletes have won championships in three or more of their Age Group Games appearances: Susan Clarke (five), Gord MacKinnon (three), and Dallin Pepper (three).
Since its inception in 2015, the teenage competition at the CrossFit Games has offered a glimpse at the future of the Sport of Fitness. Top teen athletes consistently rival competitors decades their senior in Games-qualifying competitions and even parallel events at the Games themselves, and this year was no exception.
- Emma Lawson (16-17) won her first teen Games championship and second medal, topping off a great season in which she also took ninth at the Atlas Games Semifinal.
- Olivia Sulek (16-17) won her second teen Games medal. She also competed in the Semifinals, placing 16th at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge.
- Olivia Kerstetter (14-15) won her first teen Games championship with an impressive four event wins.
- David Bradley (16-17) won his second teen Games. He now has six teen Games event wins, which ties him for eighth overall.
- Ty Jenkins (14-15) earned gold with an impressive four event wins.
In 2021, adaptive athletes competed at the Games for the first time in a scored competition, proving you don’t need to be fully able-bodied to have one of the fittest bodies on Earth.
Women’s Upper Extremity
- Sabrina Daniela Lopez won the gold medal with two event wins, including a 300-lb. deadlift.
Women’s Lower Extremity
- Valerie Cohen took gold with wins in five out of six events, including a 125-lb. snatch.
- Shannon Ogar won the division after a tight race. She took the top podium spot by 15 points and with two event wins.
- Letchen du Plessis, who took second, wowed the crowd with a 185-lb. clean.
Men’s Upper Extremity
- Casey Acree took first, winning five of the six events.
- Josue Maldonado completed a 525-lb. deadlift, and Logan Aldridge deadlifted 502 lb.
Men’s Lower Extremity
- Ole Kristian Antonsen earned gold with three event wins.
- Elliot Young pulled off a 205-lb. snatch.
- Brett Horchar took first, with five event wins and one second-place finish. He won the most points (675) across all the adaptive divisions.
- Sylvania Harrod landed a 280-lb. clean.
Other Notable Highlights
- Scott Panchik announced his retirement before the start of the Games and had a memorable final performance. Despite battling a knee injury throughout the competition, he won two events, his first event wins since his rookie appearance in 2012. Panchik finished the week in 11th place, which tied his lowest finish of his nine career individual Games appearances. He finished in the top six in each of his other appearances, including three fourth-place finishes. Before he walked off the Coliseum floor for the last time, he earned the Spirit of the Games award for his longstanding career as an athlete, coach, and positive role model in the Sport of Fitness.
- Kristen Holte announced her retirement a few days after the Games. She just missed the podium this year with a fourth-place finish. Holte competed in eight consecutive Games as an individual, saving her best for last and finishing her last five Games — which all took place in her 30s — in seventh place or better. Her fourth-place finish this year at the age of 35 was also the best finish ever for a masters-aged athlete.
- Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson just missed the podium in his lunge-off with Brent Fikowski in the final event. Guðmundsson now has five Games top-five finishes, which ties him for fifth overall.
- Mallory O’Brien became the youngest individual event winner at the age of 17 by winning Individual Event 4. She also won Rookie of the Year with her seventh-place overall finish.
- Guilherme Malheiros became the first Brazilian to win an individual Games event — and followed it with two more. He tied with Patrick Vellner for most men’s event wins at the Games this year. Malheiros also won the Most Improved award with his seventh-place finish, up from 48th place at the 2019 CrossFit Games.
- Incredibly, the heaviest weight snatched by a female athlete at the 2021 CrossFit Games was lifted by 15-year-old Olivia Kerstetter, who snatched 202 lb. in the Girls 14-15 division during Event 3 (a 1-rep-max snatch in 6 minutes). She also won her division overall — not unlike when Malheiros made a 291-lb. snatch as a 17-year-old at the 2017 CrossFit Games (he placed second overall that year). This year, Malheiros won Individual Event 12 with a 305-lb. snatch.
- Adrian Conway and James Hobart joined the club of those who have been on the podium both as part of a team and as a master. They are the 12th and 13th athletes to have accomplished this feat.
- A Dottir has been on the women’s CrossFit Games podium now 10 of 15 times (no Dottirs competed in the first two Games).
- The individual podium was rookie-less for just the fourth time in CrossFit Games history.
- 2021 marked the first Games in which the individual podium was composed of all former Games individual medalists.
- The last non-U.S. individual male champion was Mikko Salo in 2009. The last U.S. individual female champion was Kristan Clever in 2010.
- 580 athletes competed from 41 countries across the 27 divisions.
- There were two cuts for the individuals and three cuts for the teams. Though controversial, cuts such as these are not unprecedented; rather, they are typical of the CrossFit Games. Of the 15 individual Games competitions to date, only six haven’t had cuts. When cuts have occurred, an average of 2.8 cuts were made. Of the 13 team Games, only twice were there no cuts. When cuts did occur, an average of 1.6 cuts were made.
- There were five mothers in the individual women's field, which was the most since 2014. This excludes 2019, which had at least 12 mothers but 131 women competing due to the inclusion of national champions. In 2014, there were nine mothers in the individual field. Previous years had more mothers competing. For reference, there were 11 fathers in the 2021 men's individual field.
White Jersey (Current Games Leader)
- Tia-Clair Toomey has worn the white jersey a record 70 times (she wore it during all 15 events this year).
- The last woman other than Toomey to wear the white jersey was Kari Pearce in 2019.
- Justin Medeiros wore his ninth career white jersey (all this year), which is the fourth-most in the men’s competition..
- Jonne Koski wore his sixth career white jersey (two this year).
- Brent Fikowski wore his fourth career white jersey (three this year).
- Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson earned his first career white jersey (but did not wear it due to scoring adjustments that had not occurred by the time of the next event).
- CrossFit Mayhem has worn the team white jerseys a record 51 times, including during all 13 events this year.
- The last time another team besides CrossFit Mayhem wore the team white jerseys was Wasatch CrossFit in 2017.
The 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games may be over and a new slew of records set — but what are records made for if not to be broken?
The 2022 season starts Feb. 24.
Cover photo by Duke Loren Photography