Last year, the women’s competition at the Dubai CrossFit Championship (DCC) was one of the most tightly contested individual battles the sport has seen. Four women were in position to win with only one event remaining. All four are back for DCC 2019. But there’s also a new competitor who might just spoil it for them.

Samantha Briggs, 37, 2013 Fittest on Earth, was the eventual champion of the DCC 2018. Jamie Greene, 28, did everything she could to hang tough, but ultimately settled for second. Sara Sigmundsdottir, 27, coming off some rehab from injuries she had suffered a few months earlier at the 2018 CrossFit Games, finished third. 

Young Slovakian national champion Karin Frey, 24, placed fourth. This year, Katrin Davidsdottir, two times Fittest on Earth, has joined the party. Things have changed in the past 12 months.

Frey is a year older and has a significant amount of additional experience under her belt. The DDC was her only Sanctional last year, but the experience was invaluable. Fourth place at the DCC behind three perennial games athletes, two of whom have multiple podium finishes, is a serious accomplishment. She then went on to participate in her first CrossFit Games, where she finished 22nd.

Some athletes have used the new season to participate in many Sanctioned events, but I’m not so sure it’s the wisest choice for everyone, especially young athletes. Competitive experience is beneficial, but to really excel at the highest level, some athletes need to spend most of their time training, not competing, in their formative years. I expect we will see an even stronger Frey this year.

Then there’s Sigmundsdottir. Many things have changed for her in the past 12 months, and after watching her compete and win in Ireland a couple of weeks ago, it seems they are for the better. She has changed her diet, changed her coach, she isn’t coming off a devastating injury and she looked fearsome in Ireland. The other women in the field have reason to be scared of what Sigmundsdottir might do this weekend.

Briggs is incredible, but she is also 10 to 15 years older than her closest competitors, and she sustained an injury in the Open just six weeks ago. It did not stop her from competing in Ireland, where she finished a respectable fifth and her ankle did not seem to give her too much trouble.

The unique thing about Briggs is she did not qualify through the Open for the Games, so she’ll have to earn that invitation the hard way by winning a Sanctioned event or finishing as the highest athlete not already qualified. Briggs may not win the competition, but she is likely to win a couple of events.

She’ll be in podium contention and she is the favourite to eventually take the invitation to the Games.

August was Greene’s best finish at the Games as an individual, coming third. Before this year she had been 11th and eighth, almost always in the final heat, but never quite really threatening for a top-five position.

Her success in August will go a long way in terms of her confidence and self belief. If she believes she can win, that may just make the difference.

As if the rematch between these four women isn’t enough, there’s a new threat coming to Dubai this year – two-time CrossFit Games champion Davidsdottir.

Davidsdottir only competed in two Sanctioned events last season – Fittest in Cape Town, which she won, and Rogue, where she finished fourth. She barely made it through the final cut at the CrossFit Games and then did what she typically does, climbing the leaderboard as the weekend wore on, finishing fourth.

The best of the best thrive as competitions are longer and more gruelling. Dubai has a history of being just such an event. Davidsdottir will fit right in.