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June 09, 2016

History of CrossFit Games at a Glance

The 2015 CrossFit season welcomed more than 250,000 registrants for the open, a far cry from the 70 people who registered for the first-ever CrossFit Games in 2007. The growth in numbers in just 8 years is simply astonishing. What started as a humble backyard event is now a worldwide sensation that attracts CrossFit athletes from all parts of the globe. Let’s all get into the spirit of commemoration as the 2015 CrossFit Games approaches. A stroll down the memory lane to appreciate the beginnings of this intense sporting event is in order.

The first CrossFit Games was held at a ranch in Aromas, California in 2007. Around 70 athletes were in attendance at that time. The workouts were created on the day itself, because CrossFit founder Greg Glassman thought that a very fit athlete should be able to perform any task thrown his/her way. Out of all the athletes of different ages and sizes, James Fitzgerald bagged the top spot for the men and Jolie Gentry for the women. CrossFit Santa Cruz got the group award for the first CrossFit Games event. It was a good start for the celebration of CrossFit’s versatility. In the coming years, and as the following grew larger, events would become more unpredictable and exciting.

In 2008, the CrossFit Games participants grew from 70 to 300 athletes. Not only that, but about 800 fans were cheering them on! The 2-day event (July 5-6), introduced a twist to the “Fran” as part of the four challenging workouts for the competitors. Jason Khalipa of Northern California placed first for the men’s division. Ohio’s Caity Matter topped the women’s division. CrossFit Oakland was given the team award for 2008. The 2008 CrossFit Games was also the subject of Sevan Matossian’s Every Second Counts, a documentary about the CrossFit culture and community, where athletes “flirt with the limits of physical capacity”.

2009 was the year the CrossFit Games stepped up to the global arena. Just two years ago, CrossFit was just a local event in California. 2009 saw the explosion of CrossFit beyond California, particularly in Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, Canada, and Africa. It was a full-blown event, complete with a DJ and refreshment booths for the fans. Mikko Salo of Finland topped the charts for the men’s division, while Tanya Wagner claimed the corresponding spot for the women’s division. The Affiliate Cup went to Washington State’s Northwest CrossFit.

The organizers knew that the burgeoning number of participants and fans warranted a bigger venue for the 2010 CrossFit Games. They bid goodbye to the Aromas Ranch and held that year’s games in the much bigger Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. The “Sectionals” qualifiers was added for the 2010 games to allow athletes to compete in smaller groups before the victors moved up to the Regionals, and then the Games. Another interesting feature of the 2010 CrossFit Games is the internet live-streaming of the event for the first time. Over 4,000 athletes from around the world participated, and the winners took home USD 25,000. Graham Holmberg took the top prize for men’s. Kristan Clever, who placed 4th in the 2009 games, finally landed the top spot for women’s. CrossFit Fort Vancouver was awarded the Affiliate Cup Trophy.

The CrossFit Games got more organized and systematic in 2011, with the introduction of the age group in the Masters division that was introduced in 2010. Huge brands took notice of the growing popularity of CrossFit so for the first time, Reebok partnered with CrossFit in hosting the games, and would continue to be the major partner for the years to follow. ESPN3 broadcasted 3 hours of the live coverage everyday during the games. Another major highlight in the 2011 games is that athletes could post their workouts online. The ocean swim in Sta. Monica pier got the athletes and fans very excited. The winners of 2011 were Rich Froning Jr. for the male category and Annie Thorisdottir for the female. The “Fittest People on Earth” have left a very distinguishing mark in CrossFit because they would go on to become repeat champions in the following year. CrossFit New England got the Affiliate Cup.

Aside from Rich Froning Jr. and Annie Thorisdottir winning for the 2nd time for the 2012 CrossFit Games, 2012 was a year to remember in CrossFit Games because of the surprise events in Camp Pendleton. Among the surprise events were the 8-kilometer bike ride, 700- meter swim in the ocean, and the gruelling obstacle course. After that, the athletes resumed the normal events in Home Depot. 2012 was historic for the aforementioned repeat champions, a first in CrossFit history. By this year, many fitness enthusiasts had already become aware of what CrossFit is and the fulfilment behind it. The number of athletes and fanbase for the games dramatically increased. Over 69,000 athletes signed up for the Open!

138,000 people registered for the 2013 CrossFit Open, which is approximately more than a hundred percent increase from the previous’ years registrants. The 2013 Games introduced the Pig and the Worm, new CrossFit apparatuses. Live broadcast coverage was not limited to just ESPN anymore, and the foreign channels that broadcasted the games translated them into different languages. Legendary Rich Froning Jr. still topped the men’s division, but it was unfortunate that Annie Thorisdottir did not progress to the top because of a back injury. It was Samantha Briggs of the UK who took the top spot in the women’s division. Hack’s Pate Ute got the Affiliate Cup.

Fans of Rich Froning Jr. must have treasured the 2014 games, as he announced that it was his last year to compete as an individual. He certainly exited with a bang, retaining the top title for the men’s division for 4 years straight! Annie Thorisdottir came back with a vengeance, but it was Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet of Canada who got the first place for the women’s. CrossFit Invictus was honoured with the Affiliate Cup. Over 209,000 athletes registered for the games, an indicator that the numbers just keep rising. Also another milestone for the games is that for the first time, top 20 ranking athletes all get cash prizes.

There’s so much to look forward to in 2015, especially when you trace the history of CrossFit back to 2007, to its very humble beginnings. A simple ranch event is now at par with world class sporting events. The games commence this month, so watch out for it!




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