From 294,980 down to one Fittest Man and Woman on Earth, a small fraction of athletes who begin their quest in the worldwide Open succeed through each challenge thrown at them leading up to the CrossFit Games. Qualifying for the Games takes extreme dedication and hours of hard work in the gym every day.
For most, it has taken years to make it through each stage of competition and on to the finals. This year, over 25 individual athletes finally secured their first ticket to the CrossFit Games, joining an international field of athletes representing over 120 countries.
Even CrossFit Games veterans find it hard to qualify for consecutive Games, but the veterans have been in the rookies' shoes, and have thus made rookie mistakes. Here is some advice from a few notable veterans for the first-timers.
Brent Fikowski — It’s a Long, Grueling Weekend
Brent Fikowski has been a top contender at the CrossFit Games for years. The Canadian has competed at the CrossFit Games six times in his career, never missing a Games since 2016. Fikowski has won three West Regionals (2016 - 2018) and has podiumed at the CrossFit Games twice. This season, he rose to the top again, taking first place at the 2022 Granite Games Semifinal.
“The weekend is so much longer than any of the other competitions you're used to and the competition field is so much deeper. … If you made it to the Games, you're probably the best athlete in your gym, best athlete maybe in your country, obviously one of the top five athletes at Semifinals, and when you get to the Games, you know, you might have a workout and you're like, ‘Oh, that worked out pretty good for me,’ and you might come 15th,” Fikowski said.
“You kind of need to really be aware of that and be ready to just continually pound the stone and grind away during the weekend because it's a very long, grueling weekend. … You need to create the weekend you want to have based on your own internal metric of effort and not some number of where you feel you deserve to finish.”
Brent Fikowski at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games | Photo by Charlotte Foerschler
Emma McQuaid — Enjoy the Experience
Emma McQuaid is a three-time CrossFit Games athlete (2019 - 2021) from Ireland, holding the country’s national champion title each year. She had a standout performance last year, taking first place at the CrossFit Lowlands Throwdown Semifinal and 12th at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games. This year, McQuaid finished second at the CrossFit Strength in Depth Semifinal, securing her fourth ticket to the CrossFit Games.
“My base would be my first year. I was just so focused on getting a good result that I actually performed probably the worst I've ever done in person. And last year, I wasn't focused on any results. I was just focused on every event. And I had the most enjoyable Games experience ever, which made me so much more hungry to want to go back this year,” McQuaid said. “My main advice would be just go and take every workout for what it is, do the workout, finish the workout, enjoy the experience, enjoy the crowd, enjoy just being in the warm-up area. I just think it's such a fun experience if you actually just soak it all in and just don't take the first year too serious. … Enjoy the first one and then start setting goals and targets after that.”
Emma McQuaid at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games
Lazar Đukić — Stay Focused and Take It One Step at a Time
Lazar Đukić is relatively new to the CrossFit Games. He appeared at his very first Games just last year, but has been Serbia’s national champion five years in a row (2017-2021). Đukić took second place at the 2021 CrossFit German Throwdown Semifinal and ninth place at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games. This year, he won the CrossFit Lowlands Throwdown and will be appearing at his second CrossFit Games.
“For me, (it) was not that long ago that I was a rookie … and I have some notes for myself for this year. Some of them are: Don't burn yourself out. Last year, I got into over-training so hard before the Games that I had a small injury of my wrist, which I needed to be careful (with) on some workouts. … And just stay focused. Don't get burned out mentally and physically. Also, as Brent said, the weekend is very long. I had my worst finish and then in the next event I got an event win. So, just be focused on one event at a time.
“In the events where you think you can win (you'll finish lower, whereas) you'll probably be top five in events where you think you're in the middle of the pack. I specifically remember Brent asking me in the warm-up area before the yoke event, ‘Lazar, how's your yoke?’ And I’m like, ‘It's great.’ And then I finished the last in my heat. The CrossFit Games (are) something special, and the field is so deep that you need to stay focused and just go one step at a time,” Đukić said.
Lazar Đukić at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games
The 2022 CrossFit Games field will be stacked with veterans and rookies. The rookies have proven they have what it takes to succeed in the Sport of Fitness, but can they survive in a field with the best athletes in the world? The Games begin in just a few weeks, from Aug. 3 - 7, 2022.