Justin Medeiros’ rise to CrossFit stardom was lightning-quick. He won the Rookie of the Year title at the 2020 CrossFit Games, along with a bronze medal. Following the retirement of five-time Fittest Man on Earth® Mat Fraser in February 2021, Medeiros scored back-to-back CrossFit Games titles in 2021 and 2022.
However, Medeiros fell to 13th place overall at the 2023 CrossFit Games, the final Games in Madison, WI, following multiple falls off his bike in Event One “Ride.” Although he showed signs of a comeback in the “Inverted Medley,” Medeiros couldn’t turn the corner and never emerged from the middle of the pack throughout the Games.
For some reason, I still haven’t been able to put my finger on why.
On Aug. 12, 2023, Medeiros published a video on his YouTube channel sharing what he feels led to his slide down the rankings. Check it out below:
Medeiros had a long off-season after winning both the 2022 CrossFit Games in August and the 2022 Rogue Invitational in October. “You feel pretty unfit in the off-season,” Medeiros said.
However, Medeiros rebuilt his fitness quickly during his prep for the 2023 CrossFit Open. Although he placed 78th worldwide compared to his third-place finish in the 2022 Open, he wasn’t alarmed since the three 2023 Open workouts didn’t play to his strengths.
Medeiros entered the 2023 Individual Quarterfinals aiming to make a statement. He repeated his performance from the 2022 Quarterfinals, securing another first-place finish overall. However, this pressured Medeiros to push himself harder than the year before.
I had some hiccups along the way health-wise that made me nervous going into the Games.
Medeiros suffered a few injuries during his 2023 Games prep. It stymied his training for certain events for two months, making him doubt his ability to perform in Madison. However, he clarified that he’d fully recovered by the time athletes took the field at the 2023 CrossFit Games.
“I had rookie CrossFit Games nerves again,” confessed Medeiros, who felt he pushed too hard at the beginning of Event One. He maintained his opening pace for 15 minutes but then adjusted to a more sustainable speed. Along the way, Medeiros crashed twice with Lazar Đukić, costing both of them valuable time, and led Medeiros to a 29th-place finish — at the time, the worst Games event finish of his career.
I do not put any blame on Lazar. It’s competition; that’s what happens.
The bike crash knocked the wind out of Medeiros, and he knew he wasn’t ready for Event Two, “Pig Chipper,” when his body started shaking involuntarily during the warm-up. He was time capped and took 37th place, his current worst finish in his four-year CrossFit Games career.
“Workout number three [Inverted Medley] was more of an execution-style workout, which is something I pride myself on,” said Medeiros. “To finish at the top, you just had to not make mistakes.”
After a humbling performance on Day Three of the 2023 Games, Medeiros decided to go all-out in every subsequent event. He secured seventh place in the Workout Four, “The Alpaca Redux.”
Medeiros regained much of his lost confidence after Event Nine, “Olympic Total,” after hitting a one-pound snatch PR. However, the threat of being cut after the event if he’d failed his clean & jerk attempt scrambled his mindset, preventing him from a PR attempt. “That workout I was probably the most frustrated with,” said Medeiros.
Medeiros regrouped well after surviving the cut and finished sixth, ninth, and third, respectively, in the final three events of the 2023 CrossFit Games. Finding the silver lining, Medeiros opined that losing the Fittest Man on Earth® title relieved the pressure he had put on himself. With the performance pressure now off his shoulders, Medeiros expects to have a successful 2024 CrossFit Games campaign.
I’m for sure an underdog again, and I think that’s a good mentality to have.
Medeiros is currently prioritizing his holistic health and wellness by employing a combination of mobility training, hot and cold therapy, acupuncture, and physical therapy to boon his physical and mental recovery.
Featured image: @justinmedeiros34 on Instagram