By Roger Lockridge
The first qualifier to the 2019 CrossFit Games is star-studded.
Not long after Thanksgiving has passed, the eyes of the fitness community will be focused on the United Arab Emirates. That’s because, after months of discussion and speculation, the qualifying process for the 2019 CrossFit Games will finally begin to unfold.
The Dubai CrossFit Championship is certainly going to answer a lot of questions, and history will be made as the first athletes will earn their spot on the big stage in Madison. You can check out the preview of the event itself here on FloElite. As for the athletes competing, here are 10 that you need to keep an eye on because there’s a good chance the winners will come from this group.
1. Mat Fraser
The three-time Fittest Man on Earth would obviously like to start his quest for a four-peat with a win here. He’s not a stranger to this particular event either, having won it in 2016. As the reigning champion, there will obviously be a target on his back that the other competitors want to go after. It would be a major upset if somehow he failed to win this event, but with the credentials he will bring to Dubai next month, he has to be considered the favorite.
2. Ben Smith
The 2015 Games champion was also the runner-up at this event in 2016. It would add to his own impressive list of accomplishments to win this title. It would also give him a lot of momentum going into 2019 if he were to beat Fraser. That momentum would help him since he wasn’t happy with his own performance at the Games this year. If you’ve been following along on his Instagram or saw his interview here on FloElite, you know he wants this one.
3. Travis Mayer
After missing the Games last year, Mayer has been on his own personal road to redemption. He won the 2018 Granite Games a couple months ago and that journey continues to the UAE. He was the runner-up at this event one year ago. We profiled Mayer back in August.
4. BK Gudmundsson
The 2017 winner of this event also placed fifth at the 2018 CrossFit Games. Gudmundsson is no stranger to this event or big stages in general. He recently announced that he secured new sponsorships so his confidence will be pretty high going into the competition.
5. Alex Anderson
The four-time CrossFit Games athlete could be a dark horse going into this event — especially with the other big names in the field. If the Tennessee native were to sneak in and take this one, it would propel him to being considered among the elite of the sport in his own right.
1. Annie Thorisdottir
The two-time Fittest Woman on Earth also goes into the Dubai CrossFit Championship as its reigning female champion – securing victory over elite athletes like Laura Horvath and Kara Saunders. She also won this event in 2013. There’s something to be said for an athlete entering a contest having won it already. That confidence can help her be the first woman to qualify for the 2019 Games.
2. Laura Horvath
Horvath finished as the runner-up in Madison earlier this year and went right back to work. If she were to win this event and defeat one two-time champion (Thorisdottir), you know it would help her mentally as she prepared to take on another one — the reigning Games champion, Tia-Clair Toomey.
3. Sara Sigmundsdottir
Sigmundsdottir won the Dubai event in 2016 and has been on the podium at the CrossFit Games in the past, so she’s no stranger to this event or big stages. She’s also been focused on getting a degree recently but no doubt her focus will be there when the competition kicks off.
4. Samantha Briggs
The 2013 Fittest Woman on Earth placed second at this event in 2016. She had a past elbow issue but has been working with more weight recently and is feeling positive about it. While her place among the elite of the elite is secure, it would certainly add to that legacy to win here and earn her spot at the 2019 Games early.
5. Jamie Greene
Greene won this event in 2014 and lives in the UAE. So she knows how to win and has the home field advantage. The question is if she will take advantage of both now that the stakes at the Dubai Championships are higher. She narrowly finished out of the top 10 at the 2018 CrossFit Games so winning here would be a great way to rebound and finish 2018.