Six Months After Tommy John Surgery, Brooke Wells Finished Fifth Worldwide in the 2022 CrossFit Open

Don't call it a comeback — the CrossFit Games mainstay is succeeding at the elite level despite undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery.

During the one-rep-max snatch event (Event 12) at the 2021 CrossFit Games on Aug. 12, 2021, Brooke Wells suffered a severe elbow injury that caused her to withdraw from the competition and required Tommy John surgery. Her injuries included a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), a high-grade tear of the lateral collateral, and a flexor tendon pulled off the bone.

Six months later, in March 2022, Wells has not only recovered from her surgery but is competing in the 2022 CrossFit Open and posting scores that eclipse most of the other top athletes in the Women’s division. After Workout 22.1, Workout 22.2, Workout 22.3, Wells is ranked fifth worldwide on the CrossFit leaderboard*. The only athletes ranked higher than her, in order, are Mal O’Brien, reigning five-time Fittest Woman on Earth® Tia-Clair Toomey, Haley Adams, and Laurie Clément of France.

2022 CrossFit Open | Brooke Wells

  • Workout 22.1 —21st place | 363 reps
  • Workout 22.2 —sixth place | 7:56
  • Workout 22.3 —16th place | 4:56

*Note: the leaderboard is subject to change as CrossFit HQ finalizes results.


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While training with the Buttery Bros before the 2022 CrossFit Open, Wells seemed to temper her expectations for the 2022 CrossFit Season. While a consistent mainstay on the higher end of the leaderboard at the CrossFit Games the past several seasons, including a fifth-place finish in 2020, returning from reconstructive surgery is no small feat in a sport that routinely includes overhead pressing movements and handstand variations in workout programming.

However, Wells’ performance in the 2022 CrossFit Open is the best of her career, assuming the leaderboard does not undergo any changes upon further review.

Her previous best Open finish was sixth — a rank she achieved in back-to-back years (2018-19).  On paper, predicting Wells would excel in the 2022 CrossFit Open might have been a stretch. Workout 22.1 featured the return of wall walks, which puts a lot of stress on the elbows, and Workout 22.3 involved 54 increasingly heavier thrusters under a tight time constraint. Although Wells has stated that she still lacks the same mobility in her repaired elbow as before her surgery, she managed to find a way towards the top of the leaderboard.


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Onto the Quarterfinals

The online Quarterfinals will start on March 24, 2022, and last through April 24, 2022. Wells will compete in the Quarterfinals as she is in the top 10 percent of female athletes worldwide in the Open who are eligible to compete. She will aim for one of the top 120 spots in the Quarterfinals to qualify for one of North America’s four Semifinals events.

The Semifinals span four weeks from May 20, 2022, through July 1, 2022. Should Wells rank in the top five of a Semifinals event, she will earn her way to the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games, held Aug. 3-7, 2022, in Madison, WI

Featured image: @brookewellss on Instagram