The Men of the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games
There is no argument that every man competing at the 2011 Games worked hard to get there. Each athlete has his own story of strength and will that brought them to the big show. Look for your favorites, discover new athletes, and enjoy reading about the men of the 2011 Games.
Danie du Preez started the first CrossFit gym in Africa. He took 49th at the 2009 CrossFit Games. After going team in 2010, Danie is returning to the Games at 42-years-old.
An American living in Okinawa, Japan, Daniel Hershey won the Open in Asia. At the Asia Regional, Dan blew the competition away, taking 1st on three of six workouts and winning overall by 15 points.
In 2009, Rob Forte started CrossFit. At that point, he had to use bands on his pull-ups and ring dips. Since then, his progress has been astounding, moving from an 18th place Regional finish in 2010 to 3rd in 2011, earning him his first trip to the Games.
A trainer at Schwartz’s CrossFit Melbourne, Chris Hogan is returning to the Games for the third consecutive year after taking second at the Australia Regional. He finished 31st at the 2009 Games and 26th in 2010. Another solid improvement this year could vault him into the top 20.
One of the most experienced CrossFitters around, Patrick Barber started training at the original CrossFit gym in Santa Cruz while he was still in high school. He’s since moved to New Zealand, but he proved he still has it at the Australia Regional with three first place finishes and a 20-point overall victory.
A 21-year-old student of police technology in Quebec, Canada, Albert-Dominic Larouche played hockey for 12 years before he found CrossFit two years ago. In the unlikely event that there’s ice in Carson, Albert is prepared.
A former national-level wrestler in Canada, Jason Cain switched from team to individual competition this year. He stepped up his Games prep by hiring a gymnastics coach, sprinting coach, and O-lifting coach. The extra expertise paid off in a win in Canada East.
At 210 pounds, Jeremy Meredith knocked out the 30 handstand push ups on Regional Workout 1 unbroken and then followed it up with a 245-pound thruster. After bonking on Regional Day 3 with 9th and 10th place finishes that nearly knocked him out of contention, Jeremy’s working on his nutrition to make sure that doesn’t happen in California.
Known as the “teen wolf” for his remarkable combination of youth, hair, and beastliness, Lucas Parker has a 310-pound clean and jerk and can do a 45-pound dead hang muscle-ups. Despite his McDonald’s-supplied recovery meals, Parker won the Canada West Regional by 11 points.
Prior to winning the 2010 Games, Graham Holmberg came in as an underdog based on his 19th place finish at the 2009 Games. Despite his victory, Graham says he feels like an underdog again this year, behind crowd favorites like Rich Froning Jr. and Chris Spealler.
Rich Froning Jr. was ahead of Graham Holmberg until the final event of the 2010 Games, a combination of wall burpees and 20-foot rope climbs. Never having learned to rope climb with his feet, Rich struggled to get one full rope climb, and he lost his lead. Rich has since learned to efficiently rope climb, and he’s many fans’ favorite to win this year.
Aiming for a 2:10 "Fran," Nick Urankar fell off his pull-up bar and broke his collarbone a few weeks before the 2011 Open. He fought through the injury to take 42nd in the Central East in the Open. By the Central East Regional, he had recovered sufficiently to finish 3rd.
Joe Weigel just barely missed the Games last year by finishing one spot behind Graham Holmberg at his Regional. Graham went on to win the 2010 Games, while Weigel went home to train harder for next year. It paid off at the 2011 Central Regional with a 2nd place finish, earning a chance to go up against Holmberg at the Home Depot Center this year.
It’s hard to believe that Dan Bailey missed the Games by two spots at the 2010 Central East Regional. Since then, he has won the 2011 Open and the 2011 Central East Regional, setting world records on Workouts 1 and 6 in the process. Bailey’s one of the favorites to win this year.
Mikko Salo blew the CrossFit world away by winning the 2009 CrossFit Games with an impressive combination of strength (495-pound deadlift) and endurance (second to Chris Spealler on a 7-kilometer trail run). After a 5th place finish in 2010, Mikko’s improved some of the skills he was lacking before, including double unders, one-leg squats, and overhead squats. He is a top contender for the 2011 Games.
At the young age of 20, Elvar Por Karlsson is studying business at Reykjavik University, in addition co-owning CrossFit BC Island with Annie Thorisdottir, who was 2nd at the 2010 Games.
It is a testament to the strength of the Nordic region that there are two men named Mikko competing at the Games this year. “The Other Mikko,” Mikko Arnonpää, is a top athlete in his own right; the former nationally competitive track and field athlete took second at the Europe Regional while training by himself in his backyard and at a “globo” gym.
Not many people can say they regularly train with 2009 Games champ Mikko Salo, but former strongman competitor Tuomas Vainio has that distinction. In his first CrossFit Games season this year, Vainio took 2nd in Europe in the Open and won the Regional.
Matt Barnett is going to the Games along with his wife, Tarasa, and his affiliate’s team, CrossFit Cayman. All three qualified for the Games this year by sweeping the Latin America Regional with 1st place finishes across all three categories of competition. This is Matt’s first year as an individual competitor at the Games.
The son of former Miami Dolphins linebacker Andy Hendel, Spencer Hendel finished 12th at the 2009 Games and 17th in 2010. He finished 21st in Mid Atlantic in the Open, but a 3rd place finish at Regional earned him another shot at the Games.
Nate Schrader found CrossFit while on deployment with the Army Special Forces in Afghanistan. He’s since left the military and started his own CrossFit gym, Red Point CrossFit. Nate hit a 285-pound thruster at the Regional, tying Jason Khalipa and Aja Barto for the highest individual competitor’s lift.
At just 21, Ben Smith is returning to the Games for the third time this year. Though Ben’s quiet and humble nature allows him to fly under the radar most of the time, his 8th place finish in 2010, combined with a win at the 2011 Mid Atlantic Regional, make him an insider’s pick to win the Games this year.
A former Marine, Armand McCormick has a Masters in Exercise Science from the University of Northern Iowa. He owns CrossFit Kilo in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He’s been CrossFitting for more than two years, but this is his first time going for the Games. He took 8th in North Central in the Open and finished 3rd at the Regional. Armand has a fast “Amanda” time (4:34), but struggles with long chippers.
Brandon Pastorek finished 27th at the 2009 Games. At the 2010 North Central Regional, he took 8th, missing the Games by four spots. He represented CrossFit Rockford in Rockford, Ill., at the 2010 Affiliate Cup. With his help they went on to take 9th. After taking 10th in North Central in the Open, Brandon tied Phillip Kniep on points at the North Central Regional. A tiebreaker left Kniep in 1st, but Brandon still earned his second shot at the Games.
A firefighter in Lincoln, Neb., Phillip Kniep has been CrossFitting since 2008, but this is his first time at the Games. He tied Brandon Pastorek for 1st at this year’s North Central Regional and won the tiebreaker.
CrossFit’s resident strongman, Rob Orlando, was recently crowned the “King of CrossFit” by a Muscle and Fitness magazine feature article. Beyond atlas stones and heavy deadlifts, Rob has attacked his previous weak points in endurance and gymnastics to become a very well rounded athlete, as evidenced by his 15th place 2010 Games finish.
Daniel “Boomsauce” Tyminski is finally making it to the Games after missing the cut in 2009 and 2010. The former U.S. Army Airborne soldier found CrossFit while deployed in Iraq in 2007. When he left the Army, Dan began self-medicating with heroin. He’s since overcome drug addiction and started CrossFit Lindy in Long Island, N.Y. Dan came in 2nd behind Austin at the 2011 North East Regional, but he finished ahead of him on three of the six workouts.
Austin Malleolo exploded on the CrossFit Games scene in 2010 with a 6th place finish. This year, he finished first in the North East in both the Open and Regional. Regional Workout 3 was his standout performance; Austin’s 2:56 time surpassed Dan Bailey’s previous world record by eight seconds. Austin is an exceptionally well-rounded athlete. His 255-pound thruster at the Regional matched what Rich Froning Jr. reached, and his worst finish was 4th on Workout 1 with an 8:19 time that would have won in several Regions.
Neal Maddox first decided he could compete at the Games after judging at the 2009 Games. He finished 25th last year, but his new-found training partner, Jason Khalipa, may elevate his game to new heights in 2011.
Blair Morrison has qualified for the Games from a different region each year - Mid Atlantic, Europe, and this year Northern California. Despite his ever-changing environment, Blair’s learned to improvise, hanging muscle-ups from trees, attaching climbing ropes to staircases, and swimming across rivers.
The owner of CrossFit 209 Sport, Gabe Subry came out of nowhere to take 3rd at the highly competitive 2010 South West Regional. He went on to take 24th the 2010 Games. Gabe’s returning to the Games after a 2nd place finish in the 2010 Northern California Regional.
Ever since his come-from-behind victory at the 2008 CrossFit Games, Jason Khalipa has been one of the most famous CrossFit athletes. Known for his impressive strength and power, including a 240-pound press, Jason took 5th at the 2009 Games and 16th in 2010.
A co-worker at Costco introduced Ben Stoneberg to CrossFit two years ago. His first season of CrossFit competition was in 2010. After reluctantly signing up, Ben finished 11th at Sectionals and 19th at the 2010 North West Regional. That Regional motivated him to tighten up his diet and training, and the effort bore fruit in 2011. He finished the Open 1st in the North West and 3rd in the Regional.
Noah Pester earned his 2nd place spot by one point ahead of 3rd place Ben Stoneberg. He jumped into the top three on Day 2 after he had the crowds roaring for him while he completed a set of unbroken double unders in the 100s workout. He and Jesse Disch were head-to-head in Workout 1, but he fell to Jesse by just two seconds. His performance throughout the weekend was good enough for a ticket to the Home Depot Center. Noah is the co-owner of CrossFit Marysville in Marysville, Wash., where he lives with his wife and two kids, and works as a firefighter/paramedic.
Jesse Disch was the North West Region’s champion after placing 4th or better on every workout except one. After winning “Amanda,” Jesse was in a comfortable lead heading into the last workout of the Regional. He attached the final chipper by moving quickly through the dumbbells and pacing himself on the toes-to-bar. Jesse, a 26-year-old father of three, placed 14th in the Open for his region by training out of his garage gym.
Andy Scott Lewis earned his 3rd place position in the South Central Region by placing between 9th and 11th places in each event. With varied performances by the rest of the men in the region, his consistency is sending him to the Games. Andy got 1st place in the 2010 South Texas Sectional, but missed the Games, placing 8th at last year’s Regional. Any trains at Bayou City CrossFit in Houston, Texas under Games vet Vic Zachary, and was formerly at CrossFit Central in Austin. With such seasoned coaches, it’s no wonder Andy is finally going to the Games.
Zeph Littleton found CrossFit in 2008 while deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Army. He was one spot away from reaching the Games at the 2010 South Central Regional. This year, he redeemed himself by coming in 2nd to represent South Central. Zeph owns CrossFit XLR8 in Rockport, Texas.
At 6’5” and 215, Aja Barto is one of the largest Games athletes. This former minor-league baseball player wowed the fans at the 2011 South Central Regional by reaching 285 pounds on the thruster ladder, and just barely missing 295. His 5:43 “Amanda” at the same Regional, though, showed remarkable gymnastics ability for an athlete his size.
A former wrestler and rugby player, Brandon Phillips will return to the Games after finishing 11th at the 2010 Games and 30th in 2009. The former wrestler from Georgia placed 3rd behind Davis and Daniels and says he is proud to represent the South East Region in California.
Chase Daniels will be headed to the Games after finishing in 2nd place at the South East Regional. Chase said he and Jared Davis have trained together and know how to push each other to the limit. In fact, in the final chipper, he and Jared took turns leading the workout. Chase is a former track, football, and cross country athlete. After working as a personal trainer at a “globo” gym, Chase moved over to CrossFit three years ago.
Jared Davis impressed spectators on Workout 3 with his “just don’t stop” game plan. He won that workout by completing it in just 3:42. He maintained the top spot throughout the entire three days at the South East Regional, securing a spot to the Games. Jared has been CrossFitting since 2009 and works out at CrossFit Southside in Florida and this will be his first time at the Games.
Jeremy Kinnick decided to get serious about his CrossFit training after “getting smashed” at the 2008 Games. In 2009, he placed 29th and missed the 2010 Games by four spots. Over the past year, he focused on weaknesses to give himself another chance earn the title of “Fittest on Earth.” At the Southern California Regional, he started out a little shaky, placing 21st in the Run/HSPU/Row workout. From then on, he never surpassed the 5th place spot, which earned him 3rd place to represent SoCal at the 2011 Games.
Jonathan Pera first came into the spotlight at the 2011 Southern California Regional where he was ahead of the Open’s SoCal winner, Josh Bridges, until the final event. He trains at CrossFit Rancho Cucamonga.
Joshua Bridges is a newcomer to the Games, but not to CrossFit. He’s been CrossFitting since well before the inaugural 2007 Games, but never got the opportunity to compete. Until this year, that is, when he took a close 2nd worldwide in the Open and won the Southern California Regional, setting a world record on two Open workouts and one Regional Workout.
Chris Spealler is famous in the CrossFit community for his feats of stamina, speed, and endurance, such as a 2:02 “Fran,” 106 consecutive pull-ups, and 38 rounds of “Cindy.” This year, he focused on improving his strength, hoping to improve upon his 3rd place 2010 finish in his 5th trip to the Games. He is the only athlete to compete in all five CrossFit Games.
A 4th place finish at the 2010 Games earned Matt Chan an automatic qualification for the Games this year. The firefighter and CrossFit Verve owner took 84th worldwide in the Open and competed on his affiliate team at the South West Regional. Matt and his wife Cherie will be the only husband and wife couple to compete individually at the Games.
Throughout the weekend, Zach Forrest was right on Pat Burke’s tail for many of the Regional workouts. On four of the workouts, only one place separated them. The co-owner and head coach of CrossFit Max Effort in Henderson, Nev., will be returning to the Games for the first time since 2009.
Tommy Hackenbruck is no stranger to the CrossFit Games. He got 2nd place in 2009 and 9th in 2010. When the South West Regional started, Tommy had some people doubting him when he got 20th place in Workout 1. However, that did not deter Tommy from staying strong and making a huge comeback. From Workout 2 on, he stayed in the top five to finish in 2nd place and will be going back to the Games.
Returning to the Games for his fourth year is Patrick Burke from Colorado (2008 Games - 24th, 2009 Games - 8th, 2010 Games - 7th). He placed 1st at the South West Regional, taking the lead at the beginning of the weekend, finishing Workout 1 in 8:09, 15 seconds before the 2nd place finisher.