This was a high-stakes race: Only the top male and female finishers out of 30 individuals and the top team out of 18 would qualify for the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games. And it was Jason Smith, Michelle Basnett, and the Eikestad Mighty Oaks who punched their tickets to the Games in Cape Town, South Africa. The event took place from June 4-6, 2021.
Last-Chance Qualifier spots were available for the second, third, and fourth place individuals, granting them a final shot at making it to the Games at the end of July. Below, you’ll find the top men, women, and teams.
Note: The top man, woman, and team qualify for the 2021 CrossFit Games. The Games qualifiers below are noted in bold, with Last-Chance Qualifier individuals in italics.
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FiCT 2021 CrossFit Games Team Qualifiers:
- Eikestad Mighty Oaks (700 pts)
- CrossFit Tijger Valley (635)
- Eikestad Golden Oaks (635)
- FireBolt Dragons (515)
- Howling Commandos (505)
FiCT 2021 CrossFit Games Women’s Qualifiers:
- Michelle Basnett (636)
- Dina Swift (604)
- Michelle Merand (588)
- Gilmari Reyneke (531)
- Tanha Bouffe (526)
- Mary Jamieson (522)
- Brady Finkel (500)
- Leeverne Engelbrecht (443)
- Anneke Spies (406)
- Reegan Finkel (377)
FiCT 2021 CrossFit Games Men’s Qualifiers:
- Jason Smith (668)
- Ruan Duvenage (632)
- AJ Visser (522)
- Mohamed Elomda (512)
- Kealen Henry (504)
- Ruan Potgieter (495)
- Billy Pullen (435)
- Schalk Burger (401)
- Ruan Conradie (398)
- Matthew Peter Garth Smith (390)
Day 1 Recap
Teams began their weekend with a spicy combination of biking, rowing, skiing, and burpee box jump overs. With each athlete completing a full round in 7-8 minutes, this was less a test of teamwork and more a test of each individual athlete’s ability to hold their own in a high-intensity nonstructural test. In a preview of the rest of the weekend, Eikestad Mighty Oaks took first place.
“Nowhere To Hide,” an aptly named test of handstand push-ups, synchronized wall balls, rope climbs, and a conga line style handstand walk, was the next test for the teams. Eikestad Mighty Oaks ran away with first place, beating second-place finisher Eikestad Golden Oaks by nearly four minutes. The true drama occurred among the third through seventh place finishers.
Only one and one-tenth of a second separated five teams: CrossFit Tijger Valley (30:02.01), CrossFit Engine38 (30:02.02), Cape CrossFit Wolfpack (30:02.03), Kyma Kaos (30:03.01), and CrossFit Damascus (30:03.02).
The individuals opened their weekend with a similar workout structure to the teams: biking, rowing, skiing (on a ski erg), and burpee box jump-overs, but with a 27-minute time cap, this was a test of aerobic capacity. Two Games veterans took first place on the women’s and men’s sides: Dina Swift and Jason Smith.
Next up for the individuals was a crowd favorite: a snatch ladder, but with a twist. “Friday Night Lights” started with 150 double unders, then athletes were pressed to complete snatches of ascending weight and descending reps in under eight minutes, finishing with a single snatch at 265 pounds for the men and 165 pounds for the women.
The women’s final heat was quite a race, with favorite Michelle Basnett coming second (3:47) behind Swift (3:21) after missing her first attempt on the last snatch. On the men’s side, Smith once again took first place (4:09), with Assem Effat taking his top finish of the weekend behind him in the previous heat (4:36).
Day 2 Recap
Day two started with some logistical challenges for the event organizers: rolling blackouts put the venue in darkness. But, fortunately, organizers were prepared with generators to keep the floor lit for athletes, judges, and spectators.
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Eikestad Mighty Oaks continued to dominate on the team side, taking first place in every event of the day, often by significant margins.
Individuals began their day with Legless Karen, a pyramid-style workout of handstand walks and legless rope climbs, with 150 wall balls in between. The legless rope climbs proved to be a major separator, and “Moving Day” saw major shifts on the leaderboard.
Michelle Merand took a commanding lead during the second set of rope climbs, beating second-place finisher Basnett by more than one minute.
Kealan Henry, an athlete-to-watch on the men’s side, came into day two far behind any qualifying spots with 10th and 16th place finishes on day one. Henry would need to pull out all the stops today to make up for lost ground. He took the lead in his heat during the first set of legless rope climbs and never relinquished it, beating Jason Smith in the next heat by 18 seconds.
Tests Four and Five for individuals, known as “The Double Trap,” were classic CrossFit competition-style events that challenged athletes to push strategically for a good placing in the first workout without burning out for the second. Many athletes fell into “The Trap,” but some showed the consistency they’d need to hold their own at the Games.
Test Four began with calories on the Assault Bike, then moved into descending sets of ring muscle-ups with dumbbell carries in between. Basnett on the women’s side took a commanding first place, beating second-place finisher Gilmari Reyneke by 12 seconds.
Test Five began with more calories on the Assault Bike and finished with dumbbell box stepovers. Mary Jamieson made her move here and took first place, bumping her up to third at the end of the day.
On the men’s side, Jason Smith took first place and second place in Tests Four and Five, respectively, making his third invitation to the Games a strong likelihood. Now the fight on the men’s side would be who would earn those three spots to compete in the Last-Chance Qualifier.
Day 3 Recap
The Eikestad Mighty Oaks sealed their victory and trip to the CrossFit Games with first-place finishes in every event of the competition. With COVID-19 cases on the rise in South Africa (at the time this article was written), it remains to be seen whether they will travel to Madison, WI, this year.
The women’s side had more room for shake-ups on the final day of the competition. Basnett won her second event of the weekend handily in “Pinball,” Test Six’s mix of handstand push-ups, D-Ball cleans, pistol squats, and dumbbell front rack carries. Dina Swift and Michelle Merand tied for second place behind her and a 10th place finish for Mary Jamieson kept her in fourth.
Going into day three, Ruan Duvenage (440) was holding solid in second place against AJ Visser (362) in third and Mohamed Elomda (360) in fourth, the final qualifying spot for the Last-Chance Qualifier. Behind Elomda in fifth and sixth were Schalk Burger (345) and Kealan Henry (344).
No changes occurred to the top four spots after “Pinball,” but Ruan Potgieter made his move with fast sets of pistols and took second place behind Billy Pullen, who moved from 16th to 10th place. Potgieter (419) was now within striking distance of fourth place Elomda (428) going into the final event, with Kealan Henry (416) breathing down his neck as well.
Day three closed for individuals with “The Frinals,” a fast couplet of thrusters and gymnastics movements. Michelle Basnett sat in first place (568) with Dina Swift (532), Michelle Merand (492), and Mary Jamieson (462), holding the Last-Chance Qualifier spots. Trailing them were Gilmari Reyneke (455) and Tanha Bouffe (434), who needed help to earn a place in the qualifier.
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Help came in the form of Leeverne Engelbrecht taking first place by 14 seconds (6:50), followed by Michelle Merand (7:04) in second. Third through fifth place was a tight race between Tanha Bouffe (7:07.01), Engy Hossam Eldin (7:07.02), and Brady Finkel (7:07.03).
Bouffe’s third-place finish was not enough to make up the difference she needed to get into the Last-Chance Qualifier. Mary Jamieson’s 11th place finish in the final event knocked her down to sixth place, out of a Last-Chance Qualifier spot. Gilmari Reyneke beat Basnett and Swift, sitting in first and second overall, respectively, earning her just enough points to take Jamieson’s spot.
Billy Pullen set a blistering pace on the men’s side with a tie-breaking time of more than 20 seconds ahead of Ruan Duvenage. Duvenage overtook him by one rep during the final set of bar muscle-ups by not chalking his hands before jumping to the bar.
Pullen had a chance to make up the time by running to his bar, but Duvenage was faster and took the event win, earning second place overall and a spot in the Last-Chance Qualifier. AJ Visser and Mohamed Elomda stayed consistent and earned their spots in the Last-Chance Qualifier as well.
The Fittest in Cape Town is one of 10 total semifinal events that will send qualifiers to the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games taking place July 27 through August 1. Individuals finishing within three spots of a qualifying position from each event will qualify to compete in the online Last-Chance Qualifier event that takes place June 28-July 4. Athletes will have a chance to compete for a total of 2.5 million dollars of prize money and the coveted title of Fittest on Earth®.
Featured image: @fittestincapetown on Instagram/Photo by Kelly-Jayne Trindade