The 2019 CrossFit competition season is set to deliver big changes with a program of independently-hosted CrossFit-sanctioned events providing a new pathway to the CrossFit Games, and replacing the traditional Regional events.
The changes have created a lot of buzz, with the athletes and the community unsure of what to expect. The Australian and Pacific community will be among the first to see how this plays out, with the second sanctioned event for the 2019 season being hosted on the Gold Coast from 25 -27 January.
Australian CrossFit Championship Director, Darren Coughlan, is excited about the new format and the new opportunities it offers to athletes and the community.
‘In the past there was only one chance of getting to the Games and that was through Regionals. Now there’s multiple chances and the Australian CrossFit Championship is one of those’ explains Coughlan.
‘Previously, you’d do the Open, you’d qualify for the Regional and then, if you were the top five in the Region, you’d go to the CrossFit Games. Initially when Regionals started there was a top three, and there’s quite a lot of people back then, and now, who would say that top three is where the Games should have stayed. Because there is an argument that fourth and fifth place didn’t really contend for the top sports when they got to the Games’.
‘So what’s happened in Australia now that there’s multiple events is that there are two events, one of which being the Australian CrossFit Championship, as well as the Open. This simply brings it back to a stronger field of three Australians or New Zealanders making it to the CrossFit Games’ says Coughlan.
The changes mean that there are more opportunities to get to the Games, not less. In the Pacific context there are three chances at or close to home for Australian and New Zealand athletes as well as additional opportunities opening up in Asia and beyond.
‘It means athletes should be travelling around and instead of training all year for one event. Now they’ve got to prepare for multiple events which gives them multiple chances to display their sponsors and also to compete against the best in the region or tournament’ reflects Coughlan.
With the new format, some athletes have a clear strategy while others are still unsure multiple events will mean for their calendar.
‘I think some people might be second guessing themselves and sticking with a “one and done” mentality that replicates the one chance they had at Regionals. What they should be doing is looking at multiple opportunities to get ready and to go to the Games’.
The Australian CrossFit Championship begins with an Online Qualifier from 14 – 28 November. From there 32 males, 32 females and 16 teams will progress to the live ACC event in January for their chance to secure a ticket to the CrossFit Games.
Coughlan believes that while there is a short lead up time to the Qualifier, everybody is in the same position so it is worth signing up.
‘Some athletes might perceive this as too soon for them – so what? Sign up, compete and qualify for the live event. Use it as a benchmark to see where you are actually at so you can then try to qualify through another live event or through the CrossFit Open’ suggest Coughlan.
Athletes should not be concerned about not being ready for the Online Qualifier.
‘Due to the timeline of the event being announced and established, we do know that some people would have had different training agendas set forth for themselves. And we recognise that fact in the programming and also in the fact that we’ve allowed more time for somebody to attempt the online qualifying workouts and to log them in the system’.
‘We can still test the best in the region with smart programming. We know that a lot of people haven’t made allowances for this new competition yet and we’ve programmed accordingly. It’s new to everybody. We’re not trying to find the fittest in the Qualifier – we’re trying to find the best individuals and teams and to test them at the live event in January’ explains Coughlan.
What to expect from the ACC
In addition to taking responsibility for ensuring that the athletes who qualify from the ACC are equipped to represent the event and region well at the Games, the ACC is also designed to deliver a high quality event for the community.
‘I take the responsibility to the community very seriously in terms of testing the athletes as well as providing an entertaining spectacle’ says Coughlan.
‘Our event will be following a similar format to the old Regional format, with some small changes that we think are going to make for more interesting watching and competition. But also it will test the athletes – so we know that whoever wins it is going to do well at the CrossFit Games’.
The new format in general offers more opportunities for spectators to see their favourite athletes in action.
‘The CrossFit community gets to see the best people doing CrossFit and the best representation of athletic performance. They get to see them do it more than just once at Regionals. They get to see it multiple occasions. The potential for athletes to travel around the world means there is more chance to see the best people in the world competing in their own backyard, which is pretty special’.
New opportunities for athletes
The new format offers athletes a broad program of events without restrictions based on where athletes live or train. They can now attempt to qualify for multiple events with the potential to win prize money as well as a ticket to the Games.
‘I’m excited on the athletes’ behalf because it’s the first step in providing potentially truly professional CrossFit living for the athletes’ says Coughlan.
‘I’m also buoyed by the fact that there’s multiple chances now of getting to the Games. You don’t have to rely on being lucky at the right time of the year. If luck doesn’t go your way – you miss a flight, or get food poisoning, or you’re sick – you don’t miss out because you’re “one and done” and you have to wait a whole 12 months. You can literally try to qualify to any event all around the world, you’re not limited by your passport or by your residential address’.
The benefits extend beyond simply qualifying.
‘I’m happy that athletes have more opportunity to showcase their sponsors, their gyms and their supporters. They get more opportunity to compete against the best and to compete in front of their support network in CrossFit sanctioned events’.
Hosting the event on the Gold Coast
The ACC will be held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, just 500 metres from the surf and sand that the Coast is famous for. The Gold Coast is tailor made to host visitors with hundreds of properties within a just a few minutes travel from the venue.
‘I am really excited because it’s Australia’s playground. We’ve got the best beaches, the best weather and the beer is nice and cold. The venue is second to none. We’ve got seating right down to the competition floor. So if they’re lucky enough, spectators will end up with some sweat on them’.
‘It’s going to be a great event with a unique Australian vibe to it. With the Fittest Woman on Earth, we are excited to show the other events that we know what we’re doing and that CrossFit in the region is very strong’.