June 15, 2012
European Masters Qualify for the Games
By Jane Holgate

Five European Masters will represent the region in Carson, Calif.

As the Masters competition continues to grow, the fight to secure a top 20 worldwide finish and secure a berth to the Games is getting tougher.

This year, five European men will represent the region at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games Masters Competition. 

Neil Foley - 50-54 Division

Having represented the Masters division in 2010, but barely missing out on a spot in 2011, Neil Foley will be traveling from his own box, Basix Gym in Scotland. As owner and head coach at Basix, Foley coaches himself. “This has proved to be quite hard. However, I find that pitching myself against some of my strongest and fittest, and much younger members really helps,” he says. “If I can reach 50 percent of what they are achieving, I am happy.”

Foley has been a CrossFitter for five years. He continues to improve each year and credits his success to being a well-rounded athlete. However, by his own admission, he fears muscle-ups could be his downfall if they come up in the final workouts.

Foley, who will be celebrating his 55th birthday shortly after the Games, says he was surprised to qualify this year. “I gave the Open WODs everything I had, but as I am right on the edge of my age group my main focus was really to focus on 2013,” he explains. “So, being in L.A. this year is really a bonus for me.”

John Lugg - 55-59 Division

Foley came head to head a UK qualifier, John Lugg of Dragon CrossFit, at a recent CrossFit Masters competition in Europe. It was hard to separate the two throughout the competition until Foley forged ahead when a workout with pull-ups left Lugg struggling.

Unlike Foley, Lugg is a relative newcomer to CrossFit. The former professional rugby player has become a dedicated athlete since starting just six months ago.

Lugg finished third in the 55-59 division. He performed well in the Open workouts, but admits he still struggles with pull-ups and muscle-ups.

Since qualifying, Lugg has employed an Olympic lifting coach. “Raw strength can take you so far, but I realize that with Olympic lifting you have to have good technique to continue to improve and I am really enjoying refining these skills,” he says. “The European Masters competition was my first CrossFit [competition] and I learned a lot from it, particularly learning how to deal with multi-WODs in one day ... I am looking forward to learning a lot more in L.A.”

Hilmar Hardarson - 55-59 Division

Finishing just behind Lugg in the Open in fourth place was Icelandic fisherman Hilmar Hardarson. 

Hardarson, 55, of Kopavogur, Iceland, spends his days fishing on the rugged, cold northern coastline. As many have come to expect from the Icelandics, Hardarson works hard and trains hard, fitting in at least seven CrossFit sessions per week.

Hardarson started CrossFitting – and hiking, running, biking and mountain climbing – when he decided he needed to lose some weight. Age is just a number in Hardarson’s book, as he continues to regularly fight it out with younger athletes.

Since qualifying, he has been working a lot on his weaknesses. His focus has been on increasing strength, mobility and Olympic lifting technique. He recently got his first muscle-up.

His coach, Leifur Geir Hafsteinsson, describes Hardarson’s training as “impressive.” 

“He trains a lot for a 55 year old,” Hafsteinsson says. “With a personal trainer, with the CrossFit Sport team and alone. In a recent competition he took fourth place in the under 40s category, so he’s doing pretty well.”

Karl Dyall - 45-49 Division

Also on his way to the finals is Sweden’s Karl Dyall of CrossFit Solid. Dyall came in fourth overall in the 45-49 division. 

Dyall has an impressive, if not slightly unusual background. He is already a celebrity in Sweden, as he has been a dancer, choreographer, composer, singer and actor since the mid-1980s. He is a very well known figure on the Swedish dance and musical performance scene. 

At ease with his dancing skills, Dyall has also achieved significant success in martial arts, and in his early 20s, he was undefeated for two years in Allstyle (a predecessor to MMA). He even represented Sweden at the Taekwondo Open World Championships in 1991.

With his eyes firmly on the top spot in Carson, Calif., Dyall has stepped up his training and has started working with a coach.

“Until the Open, I was just training for my well being – just trying to stay fit and healthy. It has been a while since I trained to optimize performance,” Dyall says. “Since I qualified for the Games, my friend and co-owner of CrossFit Uppsala, Martin Altenmark, has been helping me. Being the co-owner of CrossFit Solid and managing a full-time job at the same time, the hardest part is fitting in the hours needed to get in shape for the Games.”

Maurizio Maddaloni - 45-49 Division

As the first Italian to reach the CrossFit Games, Maurizio Maddaloni clinched a spot in the 45-49 Division with a 5th place finish in the Open. With a background in bodybuilding and the military Parachute Special Forces, he has learned to work hard.

Maddaloni is a firm believer in total randomization of his training regimen. He does not program for competitions but instead adds extra training on the side. Before competitions, he spends more time working on his weaknesses and lifting heavy weight. Maddaloni performed better in the Open Workouts which had loads, like the push press in 12.3 and the thrusters of 12.5 rather than the metcons of the likes of Workout 12.1.

With the extra training on the side, Maddaloni hopes he’ll have the skills and capacity to make it through the three days of unknown events.