February 28, 2012
Week One in Review: Africa
By Imtiaz Desai

Last year, anyone who completed in Open in Africa was guaranteed entry to the Regional qualifier. However, with more than 200 men and almost 100 women competing this year, athletes have to earn their spaces in the next stage of the season.

After much anticipation, CrossFit Games Open Workout 12.1 came and left in a fury of more than five million burpees worldwide. The growth in participation in the Africa Region this year compared to last is significant.

Last year, anyone who completed the Open in Africa was guaranteed of entry in to the Regional qualifier. However, with more than 200 men and almost 100 women competing this year, the athletes have to earn their places in the next stage of the season. The results of Open Workout 12.1 certainly highlighted who was the hungriest.

In the women’s competition, there were no surprises. Rika Diedericks of Cape CrossFit, a former Olympic rower, took 3rd place with 102 repetitions. Her fellow athlete, Ellie Hagopian, came in 2nd with 104 burpees. Ellie and Rika were both part of the Cape CrossFit team that traveled to the CrossFit Games in 2011. That experience seems to have ignited a huge drive in the Cape CrossFit athletes to excel in the 2012 season.

The gap between 2nd and 1st place was just seven repetitions. Although Wilna Appel is fairly new to the community, her personality and performance have her well established and recognized in the community. Aside from remarkable physical attributes, Appel may prove to be the hungriest female competitor in the Africa region this year. You can look forward to a great battle among these three women as the competition progresses.

The men’s division saw some new names enter the top three, with many of the regulars filling up the top 10 places. Ruan Conradie, a 16-year-old athlete training out of BST CrossFit, took third place. BST is located at one of Johannesburg’s top sporting schools. They are doing great things toward developing the depth of CrossFit in Africa. Graham Barratt’s 123 burpees edged out Conradie to 2nd place by just one repetition. Barratt trains out of Cape CrossFit. He earned himself the nickname “Barefoot Warrior” after completing much of last year’s Regional qualifier barefoot. He certainly has a good engine on him, as well as plenty of heart.

First place was taken out by Troy Sender's 126 reps. Sender is a solo CrossFitter. Given that he has not competed in any local competitions, not much is known about him. That may change now that he is placed atop of the Leaderboard going in to week two.

In news from around the region, CrossFit Platinum and CrossFit Jozi hosted several unaffiliated athletes for Open workout 12.1. Among the athletes at CrossFit Platinum was Samantha Ryder, the winner of the 2010 Africa Regional qualifier. Ryder has recently returned to training following a shoulder injury and birth of her first child. 2010 winner Neil Scholtz and 2012 threat Richard ‘Ricky Bobby’ Smith featured among the top 10 men, and last year’s winner Danie Du Preez placed lower than expected – 34th place. Perhaps one of the most noted omissions to the entry field this year is last year’s Regional winner, Mona Pretorius. Pretorius is a South African Olympic weightlifter, and with the 2012 Olympics nearing, she appears to have shifted her focus to enhancing her 2012 Olympic prospects.

Week 1 is over. Going in to Week 2, there is only one thing the athletes can be sure of – the broadest possible fitness will be tested.

*The scores and rankings are unofficial until Tuesdays at 5 p.m., PT.