May 20, 2012
Regional Report: Australia Shakes Things Up for the Games
By Michael McCoy and John Michael Bric

The weekend in Australia ended in a dramatic and exciting fashion.

Well it was excitement that the crowd came for and it was excitement they received. In many years and many divisions, the final round is simply about the formalities. However, the events that unfolded today left the stadium full to the last minute.

In the team event and after a strong showing all weekend, CrossFit Newcastle who was sitting in 4th place going into the event, saw a chance for a ticket to the Home Depot Center slowly slip away as they struggled to work through the muscle-ups. It was a long weekend, but stronger teams like Schwartz's CrossFit Melbourne and CrossFit Athletic proved why they deserved their ticket.
In the men’s division Rob Forte showed he is a real contender this season as he heads to Carson, Calif., with a solid 2nd place finish.
If Chad Mackay’s impressive snatch performance got the crowd cheering earlier in the day, it was the battle between Kara Gordon and Denae Brown that really got the crowd on their feet. In one of the most spectacular turn of events, Brown who was sitting in fourth needed a slight miracle to secure her ticket in July, and she got it.
Event 6
1. Denae Brown: 17:04 
1. Kara Gordon: 17:04
3. Amy Dracup: 17:12
1. Kara Gordon (12)
2. Ruth Anderson Horrell (20)
3. Denae Brown (33)
The final event for the women was nothing short of dramatic, with the elimination of one of Australia’s top CrossFitters, Amanda Allen.
The 41-year-old South Australian was in 3rd position overall heading into the event, with an 11-point buffer over her nearest competitor Denae Brown.
With only 18 competitors taking part in the final workout, all Allen needed was to finish in the top 11, or avoid elimination. Unfortunately, she couldn’t avoid the latter.
From the beginning, Allen looked uncomfortable with the muscle-ups and battled her way through the first round. The second set, which was riddled with no-reps, took her more than five minutes to complete, and the possibility of her not making the Games was slowly becoming a reality.
While Allen was struggling with the rings, Denae Brown was flying through the workout. Knowing she needed to make up some serious ground on Allen, she powered through the muscle-ups, showed great form in the toes-to-bars and used all her grit and determination to complete the 140-pound farmer walks sending the crowd into frenzy.
She ended up tying for 1st on the event, her second over the weekend, while Allen failed to make it past her third set of the muscle-ups and deadlift duo.
Regardless of her placing in the event, the rules stipulate all athletes must complete the first round of the final workout if they are to qualify for the Games. Unfortunately for Allen, despite her consistency over the previous five events, her campaign would be cut short in the most dramatic fashion.
“I haven’t stopped shaking my head since the workout finished. Not that muscle-ups are my strength, but they aren’t what they ended up being today,” she said. “I did this workout last week while I was sick and although I didn't blitz, I did it in a time that was respectable, so its not like I can’t do that volume of muscle ups. I didn’t feel stressed, I didn't feel fatigued, I just couldn't do it.”
The elimination however, opened the door for Denae Brown, with the 32-year-old moving up to the 3rd place securing herself a ticket to the Home Depot Center in July.
The whole incident however, shouldn’t take the attention away from Kara Gordon, who after a dominant weekend was crowned Australian Regional Champion.
Her performances, which included four top three finishes and a world record victory, proved she will be a genuine contender in the Games come July.
“I'm feeling stoked, over the moon,” she said after the workout. “I’m relieved as much as I love it and it’s so much fun. I don’t think it’s hit me just yet.”
Ruth Anderson Horell from New Zealand claimed the other qualifying spot, finishing 2ns overall. While last year's champion, Amy Dracup finished 6th overall, and well out of the qualification zone.
Event 6
Rob Forte: 15:50
Chad Mackay: 16:51
Kevin Manuel: 16:52
1. Chad Mackay (26)  
2. Rob Forte (29)
3. Brandon Swan (34)
Just like the women’s division, the men’s top three was pretty much determined heading into the final workout with Chad Mackay, Rob Forte and Brandon Swan all well ahead from the rest of the field.
As expected the top three stayed the same, with all three men booking themselves tickets to the CrossFit Games in California.
Forte ended up winning the event, finishing 2nd overall to secure his third straight appearance at the Games. The overall winner was Chad Mackay, completing the workout one minute later. 
“I’m just glad it’s done, it was a good way to finish on a high, getting the workout finished under a time cap, so I’m stoked,” he said right after finishing his final muscle-up.
Third place, and the final qualification spot, went to Brandon Swan, who was the quiet achiever over the weekend. While the 20-year-old didn’t win any event over the three days of competition, his consistency proved to be key, finishing 21 points ahead of Kieran Hogan, who finished 4th.
“I just tried to be consistent,” he sad. “I set myself a measurable goal of being top 10 in every workout. I can’t ask for more, I’m going to the Games, so that's just magic.”
Event 6
1. Schwartz’s CrossFit Melbourne: 14:27
2. CrossFit Athletic: 15:57
3. Reebok CrossFit Gold Coast: 20:02
1. Schwartz’s CrossFit Melbourne (23)
2. CrossFit Athletic (30)
3. Tropic Thunder (31)
After a poor performance in Event 3, CrossFit Newcastle needed something special in the final workout if they were to qualify for the Games. In the end, their 8th place finish was not enough, leaving them stranded in 4th position, missing out on qualification yet again.
Linda Thomas, who qualified for the individual event, but chose to represent the Newcastle team instead, said there was still a lot to take out of the weekend. “Obviously we’re disappointed we didn’t make it, but look, I’m so proud of the team, we’ve put in so much hard work over the past few months,” she said. “We had some very memorable moments over the weekend, the guys on the snatch ladder, yesterday’s win in workout 4, so it’s just unfortunate we had some bad ones.”
While it was heartbreak for Newcastle, it was relief and jubilation for Schwartz’s CrossFit Melbourne who after years of dominance in the region, qualified for the Games for the first time.
After finishing 4th in Regionals last year, the Victorian team were keen to bury their demons and did so with top five finishes in five of the six events, including two wins.
Coach Ben Schwartz was over the moon with the result and paid tribute to the women on his team. “We had some amazing girls this year, the guys definitely helped along, but the girls did all the work,” he said after the final workout.
CrossFit Athletic capped off the weekend with a 2nd-place finish, while Tropic Thunder took the final qualification spot.
There was also a lot of emotion in the final event, with the true essence of CrossFit personified by many teams. CrossFit New Zealand and CrossFit Active, who’s qualification hopes were over heading into the workout, broke down with emotion after completing their final muscle-ups, hugging each other and acknowledging the dedication and effort all members put in over the weekend.
It was a great moment that not only summed up the weekend, but also emphasized why we love CrossFit.