Meridian Regionals: The British Are Coming
After an exciting weekend, this year's round of Regionals is over - and what a successful year it turned out to be for the UK and Europe! Not only is it the first time a British male has made it to the CrossFit Games since Jamie Crichton's appearance in 2009, but this time TWO British male individuals will be there!
The changes to this year's regions caused some controversy in the beginning, but this turned out to be a positive change for Europe. 10 individual Games spots were available in total, with 9 of those going to European athletes - and the 10th going to Phil Hesketh, a British-born athlete, adopted by the UAE.
This year's Meridian Regional put Europe on the map, with several event records set across the weekend - four from the women alone - leaving little doubt the gap between the USA and Europe is getting smaller. Here are some of our highlights and stand out performances from the weekend:
Jonne Koski: Mikko Who?
Mikko Salo's protégé, Jonne Koski, placed 10th at the European Regionals in 2013, but little was known about him until he burst onto the scene in 2014, securing first place ahead of some of Europe's biggest athletes. After a year of training, Jonne was the favourite to take first place at this year's Meridian Regional - and he certainly didn't disappoint!
He set the tone for the weekend in Event 1, beating Dan Bailey's event record by one second. No one else came close to his 2:17.5 - Brit Alec Harwood was the closest, with a time of 2:34.7. By the end of the first day, Jonne had two wins in the bag, and was 30 points clear of Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson in second place.
His performance in Event 3 was perhaps the most impressive. As predicted, Steven Fawcett was first off the treadmill in this event, but was overtaken by Lukas Högberg and Frederik Aegidius on the overhead squats. It was looking like a close race between the three of them, until Jonne came out of nowhere on the GHD sit-ups. He really showed the crowd what he's about in this workout, sticking to his game plan and keeping pace perfectly until the very end. He was the only male athlete to complete the event at the Meridian Regional, and only the fourth globally.
With four first place finishes across the weekend, including one event record, Jonne Koski is certainly ready to take on the big boys in Carson this year - it's going to be exciting to see how he gets on!
No Stopping the Nordic Ladies
The Women's Individual category was always going to be a challenge for Team UK - the Nordic ladies have dominated the leaderboard since the start of the competition, and they're showing no signs of slowing down.
This weekend was no different, and the women showed how they'd been working hard to close the gap between Europe and the USA - breaking four event records across the weekend.
Kristin Holte was first, setting a new record for Event 3. This chipper was always going to be in her wheelhouse, but she smashed Denae Brown's record to pieces - knocking 40 seconds off her time to finish in 23:52.
Katrin Davidsdottir and Oxana Slivenko took the record for Events 4 and 5, with Katrin finishing her handstand walk in 1:19.8, and Oxana hitting a 210lb. snatch. For anyone who's seen them compete before, this was hardly suprising - but impressive nonetheless!
The record for Event 6 was smashed by Sara Sigmundsdottir, who finished the rowing, pull-up and HSPU triplet dead on 13 minutes. Sara was undoubtedly the star of the Women's Individuals, finishing in the top 5 for all but one workout.
There were some incredible performances from the Team UK ladies too, with Steph Dekker, Laura Hughes, Emma McQuaid, and Gwendolin Sona all placing inside the top 20, and Kitbox sponsored athlete Jo Caulton finishing the weekend in 24th place - amazing, considering it was her first experience of Regionals!
The British Are Coming
With Sam Briggs moving across the pond this year, everyone was wondering whether we'd get to see a Brit on the podium at the end of the weekend. As always, Team UK was well represented, and expectations were high. We'd seen some incredible performances in the Open, with Steven Fawcett getting first place in the Male Individual category, and two top 10 Female Individual athletes in Emma McQuaid and Laura Hughes. Whilst it can be difficult to predict performances at Regionals from the Open results, in true community spirit, the UK was going to get behind their athletes 100%.
After an outstanding performance by Alec Harwood in the first workout, the men well & truly made their mark during the second event. Phil Hesketh, Will Kane and Steven Fawcett got 3rd, 4th and 5th place respectively, leaving two Brits in qualifying positions going into Day 2.
The solid performances continued throughout the second day, with Steven Fawcett getting two top 5 finishes, and Phil Hesketh & Will Kane getting one each. At the end of the day, Steven Fawcett was in 4th place with 376 points, and Phil Hesketh in 6th with 335. The top 10 was close, and it was clear it would all be decided on the final day.
Steven got 2nd place in Event 6, behind CrossFit Wolverhampton's Mitchell Adams. This put him in a good position before the final event, but it was still all to play for. Event 7 was an all-out sprint to the finish - there wasn't any time for tactics or strategy. With a third place finish for Phil Hesketh, and 22nd for Steven Fawcett, the UK collectively held their breath as athletes paced around the competition floor, waiting for the announcement.
It turns out we didn't need to worry. Watch out, Team USA - The British Are Coming!
Well done to everyone who competed, we can't wait to see you all there next year.