The Sanctional schedule takes a new turn on the first weekend of March. There are not one but two competitions taking place this weekend on opposite ends of the globe. Queensland, Australia, will be hosting the Australian CrossFit Championships while over in Sao Paulo, Brazil, we have the 2020 Brazil CrossFit Championship. These two events are just as important as any of the others in determining who will be a part of the 2020 CrossFit Games. Here’s what you need to know about both.
Australian CrossFit Championship
This is the first of two Sanctionals taking place in Australia. The Down Under event is currently scheduled for May. On the men’s side of the field, the biggest name that stands out is obviously James Newbury. He finished in fifth place at last year’s Games but suffered injuries from an accident not long after. He participated in the Open but wasn’t at his best. So this contest is where he has his sights set for redemption and a ticket to Madison.
While he is obviously the favorite, there are other athletes to watch for including Bayden Brown who will be in it for the win but has a qualification already as the Australian National Champion, Khan Porter, and Alec Smith. Of course, there is always the possibility of a less familiar name shooting up the leaderboard.
As for the women, the first name that garners attention in the field is Kara Saunders (Webb). This is actually her first appearance in any Sanctional. Last season she became a mother. She also has a qualification at the Games already thanks to her 12th-place finish in the Open. Nonetheless, her past record of success makes her a favorite to take the victory.
Madeline Sturt is also in the field but recently was able to accept a qualification to the Games already thanks to Annie Thorisdottir, who gave up her spot because she is about to become a mother herself. Sturt and Saunders are the only two athletes in the 32-person lineup already qualified. Out of those who are not yet qualified, Courtney Haley could be the competitor to watch. The three-time Games competitor is looking for her fourth overall trip.
There will also be 12 teams battling for the top spot including Mayhem Independence. They already have a spot in Madison secured but has decided to compete anyway. The team that may be the favorite to push Mayhem Independence would be Team Sack who would be going to the Games for the eighth time if successful.
Brazil CrossFit Championship
Meanwhile, 13 time zones away in Sao Paulo, the Brazil CrossFit Championship is also taking place; 32 men, 32 women, and 16 teams will all be competing for the same privilege as the competitors in Australia. It doesn’t matter where you get the qualification for the Games; the goal is to make it to the biggest stage in fitness. Here’s who to watch for here.
On the men’s side, Josh Woodhull is on a mission ever since he finished in second place at the 2020 Norwegian CrossFit Championship. Griffen Roelle took the victory and qualification in that contest. You know being that close to victory is only making his desire burn brighter here. Two other Americans that stand out in this field are Marquan Jones and Josh Miller, both of whom have Games experience. Jones was in the 2018 Games where he finished 37th and Miller was in Madison last year, finishing 82nd.
The women’s field includes Sasha Nieves who actually is already qualified for the Games thanks to a combination of her performance in the Open and a few others who placed above her declining invites. Argentina national champion Melina Rodriguez is also set for Madison but would like to take a victory as well. Those two would be the favorites for the win. Out of those not yet qualified, Andrea Pinheiro will be competing in her third Sanctional of the season and hopes the third time is the charm. Delfino Ortuno finished 8th in this event last year so keep an eye on her as well.
As for the teams, no team in the field is already qualified for the Games so the winner gets all the spoils this weekend. Invictus Brazil will look to hold the home-field advantage while other groups like $2 for Life and Team Park hope to spoil their party.
Roger Lockridge is from Lewisburg, WV. His work has been featured on numerous platforms and magazines in the fitness industry over the last 10 years. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @rocklockridge.