It may have been a roller coaster ride for Australia’s Ricky Garard to get to the 2022 CrossFit Games, but at the conclusion of Day One, he stands atop the Individual Men’s leaderboard with 270 points — 15 ahead of defending Fittest Man on Earth® Justin Medeiros.
At the time of this article’s publication, three Individual events have come and gone: “Bike to Work,” “Skill Speed Medley,” and “Elizabeth Elevated.” Garard won a chaotic Event One that saw four Individual athletes receive penalties, fifth in Event Four, and seventh in Event Five.
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2022 marks Garard’s second Individual appearance at the CrossFit Games. His first came in 2017 at age 23, where he ranked third overall but was stripped of his medal following a failed drug test. Five-time Fittest Man on Earth® Mat Fraser won the Games that year, Brent Fikowski took second, and Pat Vellner was awarded third after Garard was disqualified. Fikowski and Vellner are also competing in the 2022 Games against Garard.
Garard’s positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, which he admitted to taking knowingly, led to a four-year-long suspension. That suspension was lifted two weeks prior to the 2021 Dubai CrossFit Championship on Dec. 16-18, 2021. Garard was given an invitation to compete and finished third overall behind Lazar Đukić and the contest’s winner, Roman Khrennikov.
Garard’s path back to the Games saw him rank first in Oceania in the 2022 CrossFit Quarterfinals and second at the 2022 Torian Pro Semifinal, won by Jay Crouch. In Event One of the 2022 Games, it appeared as though Jonne Koski of Finland was hard-locked to take first place. But after Spencer Panchik and Đukić mistakenly failed to complete the final lap of the bike ride, Garard made up the gap between him and Koski and was able to leverage the final sprint to the finish line into an opening event win.
The 2022 CrossFit Games have one event scheduled for Aug. 4, 2022, and three events each scheduled for Aug. 5, Aug. 6, and Aug. 7. If Garard maintains the pace he is currently on, he could return to the Games podium, this time having earned it fair and square.
Featured image courtesy of Will Johnson.