The 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games wrapped up today at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and the Fittest on Earth have been crowned.
The competition, which started last Wednesday, challenged the best athletes in the world with tests of strength, skill, endurance, and mental capacity over four full days.
By Sunday morning, Australian Tia-Clair Toomey had all but guaranteed herself a fifth-consecutive championship on the women’s side with a 206-point advantage. Hungary’s Laura Horváth sat firmly in second, 105 points ahead of third. The race for the final podium spot was close, with just 10 points separating Norway’s Kristin Holte in third and Iceland’s Annie Thorisdottir in fourth.
On the men’s side, it was still anyone’s game. Justin Medeiros started the day in first place overall, 42 points ahead of second-placed Patrick Vellner. Canadian Brent Fikowski sat just 19 points behind Vellner in third. With three events remaining, there were still plenty of chances to shake up the leaderboard.
The first event of the day paid homage to Wisconsin roots with cheese-curd sandbags and hay bales. The top 20 men and women demolished the event, which also featured GHD sit-ups and heavy yoke carries.
Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson won the men’s event, moving one spot up the leaderboard to fourth overall.
“I’ve been taking good care of my body over the weekend, and I think it’s paying off right now,” Iceland’s Guðmundsson said. “The ultimate goal is to win the CrossFit Games. I really love training, I love suffering, I love competing. Being out here in Madison is amazing, and that’s just a feeling I'm chasing every year.”
Horváth, who earned third in the event, was focused on what she could control on this final day of competition.
“I can only do as much as I can to catch Tia,” she said of her competitor who took first in the event. “That’s all I can do, so I’m just focusing on the last two events. I’ll give it all I got and see where that gets me.”
The athletes returned to the Coliseum for the final two events of the day. Event 14 mimicked the classic CrossFit benchmark workout Diane with a couple notable differences: The weight was much heavier, and — in keeping with the theme of evolving inverted movements — the handstand push-ups were freestanding.
In a race to the finish like we’ve never seen, Medeiros and Vellner went rep for rep on the final set of 14 freestanding handstand push-ups. As the crowd roared, Vellner edged out Medeiros and continued to close the gap on his lead.
“I wish I didn't put myself in the position I did,” Vellner said of the early hole he found himself in after a 35th-place Event 1 finish. “But as I've proven again, I can finish the weekend pretty strong, so I'm gonna keep that momentum up and take it into the last event and do what I can.”
Thorisdottir had quite a weekend. The two-time Games champion hit a 200-lb. snatch — a PR — in Event 12. She seemed to ride that momentum into Event 14, where she earned her first win of the competition with a 5:22.12-finish.
Medeiros held the lead before the final event but had only 32 points more than Vellner in second. It came down to rowing, chest-to-bar pull-ups, and barbell lunges.
Medeiros left no doubt that he is the Fittest Man on Earth when he finished the final in 6:36.59, earning his first event win of the competition and clinching the title.
“I stepped across the finish line and saw my parents, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Those guys have been there since Day 1, and I would not have been able to do this without them,” Medeiros said.
Medeiros is the youngest male CrossFit Games champion in history. Canadians Vellner and Fikowski earned the second and third podium spots.
The final event was a victory lap for Toomey, who at that point held a 251-point lead over the field. Horváth maintained her second-place spot, and the race was for third. Holte and Thorisdottir entered the final event tied with 1,009 points apiece.
Thorisdottir led Holte throughout the event. As she crossed the finish line and earned a return to the podium — where she had not stood since 2017, when she took third — Thorisdottir collapsed, overcome by emotion.
“I wasn’t even planning on being here. I didn’t think I could compete. And I podiumed,” Thorisdottir said. “I have had one of the hardest years of my life but also one of the best years of my life at the same time.”
Toomey, who won the final event, closed her competition with two new records: The most event wins by any CrossFit Games athlete (33), and the only woman to ever win five consecutive CrossFit Games championships. When asked how she feels about being an inspiration to others, Toomey said it’s humbling.
“It’s such an honor. For anyone out there trying to do your absolute best, just keep going,” she said. “It requires so much hard work, but if you have the right team behind you and you have that desire and determination, anything is possible.”
Medeiros and Toomey will be awarded US$310,000 apiece, while Horváth and Vellner will receive US$120,000 for their second-place finishes. Thorisdottir and Fikowski will receive US$80,000 for third.
- Justin Medeiros (1,134 pts.)
- Patrick Vellner (1,102 pts.)
- Brent Fikowski (998 pts.)
- Tia-Clair Toomey (1,435 pts.)
- Laura Horváth (1,179 pts.)
- Annie Thorisdottir (1,099 pts.)
Note: All scores and placements are unofficial at the time of publication and subject to change.
Cover photo by Michael Valentin