Mat Fraser does not screw around.
The three-time defending CrossFit Games champion wasted no time in capitalising on CrossFit’s new qualification rules.
He used the first ever sanctioned event for qualifying – the Dubai CrossFit Championship in December – to book his ticket straight to this year’s Games, eight months in advance.
What this means is no formal competition commitments – basically all Fraser has on his calendar between now and this summer is one bullet point: prepping for the finals.
This is scary news for his competitors, because he can now focus on ironing out any kinks he might have in his repertoire (if there are any to begin with).
The 28-year-old can spend months building towards an eventual peak fitness rate when the Games roll around in August in Madison, Wisconsin.
Sure, Fraser might join a few sanctioned championships for kicks if he so chooses. He’s stated he’s still going to compete in the CrossFit Open.
But his ability to tailor his schedule far earlier than any other competitor can only be yet another advantage for the superstar.
Much like fighters, CrossFit athletes have to build training and diet schedules around competitions. There’s a lead up phase, a cooling-off period right before a competition, the actual competition itself, and ample recovery time.
This whole process can take months, on top of the regular training sessions CrossFit athletes endure on a daily basis, all of which seriously push a competitor mentally and physically.
There’s also an increased risk of injuries during competitions as the athletes go beyond their norms in the heat of battle.
Some people might think Fraser will not be as motivated come Games time. But the chances of that are slim, because if Fraser wins his fourth consecutive title this year, he will join the most elite CrossFit group ever, so elite it only has one member: Rich Froning, who won from 2011-14 and is seen as one of the sport’s pioneers.
Fraser has been periodically dogged by the “Froning versus Fraser” debate for years now, doing everything he can to play it down, and if he ties Froning, he gives himself the chance to beat him and silence all the critics in 2020.
Fraser has moved to Cookeville, Tennessee because they don’t have any state income tax, and he has friends who live in the area as well. It does also give him the chance to train, as he has, with Froning and his CrossFit Mayhem team.
That is like LeBron James moving in with Michael Jordan to learn all the elder’s tips and tricks to usurp him from the throne.
So what has made Fraser so good and what carved out such an impressive specimen? It is a subjective question looking for an objective answer, but there are a few clues.
There’s a number of documentaries on YouTube which offer glimpses into his life, psyche and training regime.
First point – Fraser trains hard all-day, every day (at the gym, in his parents’ basement, or anywhere for that matter), rarely taking a break, except maybe for some stretching or tension release exercises.
His diet is tailored by his chef fiancee (@feedingthefrasers) and features lots of sticky rice and the usual workout supplements thrown in.
And yes, of course, some Frosted Mini-Wheats. His motto: “What are you doing when no one is looking?”
He also has the pedigree as a former Olympic weightlifting hopeful. His parents are former Olympic athletes (plus his mother is a doctor), too, while he has a degree in engineering.
He also does this as a full-time job meaning he has no obligations other than endorsements and sponsorship deals.
At 1.7 metres tall and 190 pounds, Fraser has the build of an NFL running back, a perfect blend of size and speed, and remarkably similar to Froning’s body type.
Fraser also has a permanent chip on his shoulder, as he was the runner-up in both 2014 and 2015, losing to Froning in his rookie appearance and Virginia native Ben Smith the following Games.
His demeanour is one of quiet confidence: he regularly states he wants his competitors to be at their best because, “I don’t want to win because someone got sick or injured. I just want a good competition that reflects what the competitors are actually capable of.”
One could list all the other male competitors looking to take him down, but it seems silly at this point – the only person who seems likely to beat Fraser this year is Fraser himself, through injury, a bad decision or bad luck.
Those are horrible odds for the rest of the field, given over the past five years, Fraser has not finished out of the top two spots in the competition, and is only 28 and still very much in his prime.
Even CrossFit Inc. is so perplexed by the question, they released a one-minute video detailing his absolute prowess, noting “he should have to do a marathon before the Games start just to level the playing field”.
Come August, the question is likely to come to its foregone conclusion: can anyone beat Mat Fraser?
Not bloody likely.