Five-time Fittest Man on Earth Mat Fraser announced his retirement from the sport of CrossFit today.
“Today I leave the sport older, wiser, fitter and grateful,” Fraser wrote in an Instagram post.
“I’m diving into the next chapter of my life with the same HWPO mentality,” Fraser continued. “From now on, decisions I make won’t be solely based off how they affect my performance, but how they affect my family, friends, health and happiness.”
Fraser wrote an article for The Morning Chalk Up detailing his relentless pursuit of greatness in the sport of CrossFit.
“For eight years, every day has been roughly the same: wake up earlier than I’d like, sell my soul to the Assault Bike and the swimming intervals and the 40-minute AMRAPs, eat, sleep, repeat,” he wrote. “No decision was unintentional.”
Fraser explained, “Now, I’m ready to make decisions based on how they affect my family, friends, health, and happiness, not only my performance.”
Fraser’s impressive run in CrossFit competition started in 2013 when he competed in his first Open and took 192nd in the world. He’s competed in the Open every year since, achieving two seventh-place worldwide finishes (2014, 2016) and one second-place finish (2020). He won the Open outright in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Fraser’s Regional run showed a similar kind of upward momentum as he took fifth at the 2013 North East Regional and gold at every other Regional competition he competed in thereafter. He holds seven worldwide Regional event records.
Fraser made his Games debut in 2014, taking second place overall behind four-time Games champion Rich Froning. Fans knew in that moment that Fraser was here to stay. To his own chagrin, Fraser followed up his 2014 performance with another silver medal in 2015, this time bested by Ben Smith.
But the athlete who coined the hashtag #HWPO (Hard Work Pays Off) proved just that in the last five years, during which he’s earned five consecutive gold medals at the Games and set countless CrossFit event records. He’s won 29 CrossFit Games events — 14 in 2020 alone — and competed in 66 events wearing the leader’s jersey.
No one would dispute the fact that the CrossFit Games are challenging. Over the years athletes have faced increasingly difficult events testing a wide variety of skills, alternately exposing athletes’ weaknesses and highlighting their strengths. But after hanging with Froning’s legendary performance in 2014, the question was: Does Fraser have a weakness?
At the 2015 Games, it appeared running might represent a hole in Fraser’s game as he took 24th and 37th place, respectively, in Sprint Course 1 and 2. But again proving the accuracy of his personal hashtag, Fraser returned in 2015 to take second in Suicide Sprint and first in Ranch Trail Run. It appeared he had more than addressed the weakness, perhaps even turning it into a strength.
The point spreads he established over second place at the last five Games have ranged from 197 points over Ben Smith in 2016 to a whopping 545 points over Samuel Kwant in 2020. In fact, the only time Fraser saw a point spread south of nearly 200 at the Games was in 2019, when Games veteran Noah Ohlsen gave Fraser a run for his money, finishing in second just 35 points behind Fraser.
There is no doubt that Fraser’s absence in the sport of CrossFit will be felt far and wide. And let’s not forget that he’s still the world record holder for most consecutive Games championships.
Humble and Kind
Fraser fully intends to remain part of the CrossFit community. It just won’t be from the competition floor any longer, he said.
Just as impressive as Fraser’s CrossFit resume are his character and humility. In lieu of his unquestionable dominance, he has remained a humble and kind athlete in our sport.
“Like so many others that wandered into a CrossFit gym,” Fraser wrote, “I wasn’t expecting to find my best friends, business partners, wife, countless life lessons, and 5 gold medals.”
Who will step up to earn the title of Fittest Man on Earth and occupy the top spot on the podium after Fraser’s five-year reign? It’s going to be a wild year.
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