The 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games ended on Aug. 6, 2023, in Madison, WI. The Games’ final hurrah in Madison featured two new champions standing atop the podiums for the Individuals: Laura Horvath became the first Fittest Woman on Earth® in seven years who is not named Tia-Clair Toomey, and Jeffrey Adler became the Fittest Man on Earth® in his fifth career Games appearance.
While the crowning of Horvath and Adler is undoubtedly the biggest headline to come out of the 2023 Games, there were many memorable moments that will comprise the highlight reel when looking back in the future. Below are five memorable moments from the 2023 CrossFit Games.
1. Justin Medeiros Crashes In Event One
The opening event for the 2023 Games was titled “Ride,” and it challenged athletes to bike as many laps on the designated course as possible in 40 minutes. However, the course featured mixed terrain and was not a smooth loop — twists and turns were prominent and caused some tight bunching around turns for riders who were close together.
Two-time Fittest Man on Earth® Justin Medeiros, who was aiming to three-peat, suffered immensely from these variables. He crashed his bike twice during the event, costing him valuable time and leading to the worst Games event finish of his career to that point, 29th overall. The visible abrasions on his chest as a result of those crashes seemed to have an impact on his event two, “Pig Chipper,” performance, where he ranked even worse than event one, finishing 37th overall.
Ultimately, Medeiros never fully recovered his standing on the leaderboard and scored the lowest Games finish of his career: a still respectable 13th — his first Games finish off the podium.
2. Jack Farlow’s Games Record Clean & Jerk
During the “Olympic Total” event, which challenged each Individual athlete to establish their max snatch and their max clean & jerk with only two attempts each under 20-second time constraints, one athlete made history. 21-year-old Jack Farlow entered the event knowing that no amount of points would save him from being cut from the competition right after the event concluded. However, that did not stop him from making Games history.
Farlow was the only athlete in the field to eclipse a 700-pound total, locking out 701 pounds between his two lifts, including his record-setting 396-pound clean & jerk. The 2023 Games was Farlow’s debut in the elite Individual men’s competition — he’d previously competed in the Boys 16-17 division to a sixth-place finish in 2019. Farlow ranked 27th overall and set expectations high for performance in 2024.
3. Roman Khrennikov Breaks His Foot
The majority of the 2023 CrossFit Games Individual men’s division was led by 2022 Games runner-up Roman Khrennikov. In his sophomore year at the Games, Khrennikov was undoubtedly one of the biggest contenders to dethrone Medeiros, given his silver-medal performance narrowly missed taking the crown in 2022.
Khrennikov came out of the gates on day one with three event finishes in the top five, including a win in the “Pig Chipper.” He continued his surge on day two with an event win in “The Alpaca Redux,” followed by two more finishes in the top 10. Although had his two lowest finishes up to this point in the competition on day three — 17th and 16th in events eight* and nine, respectively — he still donned the leader’s jersey with only Adler within range.
Unfortunately for Khrennikov, during event 10, “Muscle-Up Logs,” he landed awkwardly after hopping over one of the logs, breaking a bone in his left foot that prevented him from performing at his best for the rest of the Games. He didn’t withdraw from the competition and performed the remaining events on one leg.
Competing a leg down led to two last-place finishes, which effectively locked Adler for the Games title and gave Patrick Vellner enough room to overtake Khrennikov for the silver medal. Khrennikov’s lead kept him in the bronze position on the podium.
*Note: another memorable moment came in the “Intervals” event when Khrennikov ran past his box jumps straight to his rower as his judge frantically tried to communicate that he had mistakenly skipped a station.
4. Danielle Brandon Blitzes the “Inverted Medley”
Undoubtedly one of the most impressive event finishes at the Games was the scorching Danielle Brandon laid on the rest of the field in event three, “Inverted Medley.” The event was a gymnastics test that challenged athletes to handstand walk across the competition floor over stairs and perform freestanding handstand push-ups along the way before 16 pullovers turned them around to travel back.
Brandon is known for her extensive gymnastics background and typically performs well in these kinds of events at the Games. The “Inverted Medley” was the career performance that suggests she is untouchable on gymnastics tests in the future. Brandon finished the course at 3:12.76 — the next closest time wasn’t until more than 34 seconds later. Brandon finished the 2023 Games in ninth overall.
5. Emma Lawson Becomes the Youngest Athlete Ever to Podium
Emma Lawson was an absolute force at the 2023 Games. After scoring the Rookie of the Year title for her sixth-place finish in 2022 after making her Games debut at age 17, Lawson returned as one of the favorites to assume the throne vacated by Toomey. She ultimately finished in the silver-medal position, becoming the youngest-ever athlete to stand on the podium at the Games at age 18.
Lawson was a beacon of consistency throughout the entire 2023 Games, sporting the leader’s jersey from the midway point until the last event (Alexis Raptis wore the leader’s jersey for most of the early portion of the competition, and Horvath donned the red and white during the final event).
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Featured Image: @emma.lawson_5 on Instagram, courtesy of CrossFit LLC