2012 Regional Preview: Africa

By Imtiaz Desai on 01.15.12

In keeping with global CrossFit trends, the 2011 CrossFit Games season in Africa saw the rise of previously unknown athletes, growth in the number of competing athletes, marked improvements in previous Games athletes, and the return of a previous regional champion. 

In Africa, 119 athletes registered for the Open, and 38 individuals and one team competed in the Regional qualifier. Compared to 2010, when just 21 athletes competed in the Africa regional qualifier with only seven women. Having learned from previous experience, athletes competed at the Regional level, having had their goats evolved in to racehorses and with great aspirations of challenging the current champions. However, a previous champion and a new athlete thwarted these efforts. The winning man of 2011 was the 2009 Africa region champ, Danie du Preez, and the winning woman was Mona Pretorius, a South African Olympic weightlifter and relative newcomer to CrossFit. The events spanning the 2011 CrossFit Games season combined to create a refreshing competition culture in the Africa region that has continued to develop. 

Later in 2011, several CrossFit competitions continued to develop the sport in the Africa region. CrossFit Jozi held the region’s first ever Fight Gone Bad event that saw 80 athletes enter. The winning male, Richard Smith, placed 7th in the Open after a stellar performance. He was however unable to attend the regional qualifier. Smith is gunning for a podium finish at the 2012 Africa Regional Qualifier. The 24-year-old is a personal trainer at the Fight Fit Militia. At a body weight of 81kg, he has a back squat of 150kg, deadlift of 200kg, a 105kg clean & jerk, and the pain threshold of an elite mixed martial artist. 

Wilna Appel, the winning female of Fight Gone Bad 6 at CrossFit Jozi was previously unknown by most in the community. She too is being ranked among the top female contenders for 2012. She weighs in at 52kg and has a deadlift of 120kg along with “Diane” and “Elizabeth” times of 4:58 and 8:05, respectively. Appel is competent in the gymnastics modality, so may struggle in the heavier events. 

In September of 2011, CrossFit Durban, another of the region’s newest affiliates, held the United We Stand Games. Approximately 25 teams comprised of four athletes each got together in a huge event to throw down. It was there that Cape CrossFit showed they still have what it takes to do well in the region. As expected, their two teams took home the honors, thereby affirming their intentions to field strong competitors in 2012.

One cannot overlook the abilities of experienced competitors. Danie du Preez, 2010 winner Neil Scholtz, Andy Craig, and Julian Reichman-Israelson all stand a chance. Might we see 2010 women’s winner Sam Ryder return after a shoulder injury that kept her from competing at the 2010 Games and having given birth to her first child? Given the exposure CrossFit has gained through the growing number of affiliates and all the television coverage of the Games on ESPN, there has been a sudden spike in the awareness of the sport of fitness in Africa. We can therefore be sure that dark horses will appear during the Open. Are the seasoned contenders going to rein supreme or will we see new talent taking honors? More importantly, how are the African region competitors now going to fare against the fittest in the world?