The reduced field at the CrossFit Games 2020 has thrown up the prospect of a mouth watering showdown between the two most successful CrossFit athletes ever – Rich Froning and Mat Fraser. The Games organisers announced that, due to the ongoing current coronavirus crisis, they would reduce the field to just 30 men and 30 women.
They are cutting the national champions, age groups and teams, inviting the top 20 men and women from the Open and the winners of the sanctionals.
Froning would have competed in the team event with CrossFit Mayhem. But he finished in the top 20 of the Open, so qualifies for the individual competition. Now, fans wait with bated breath to see if he will collect his invitation in lieu of the team competition.
Froning won four consecutive titles from 2011 to 2014. Only Fraser has matched that feat, winning from 2016 to 2019. But even as fans salivate over a decider between the two, Froning has said numerous times that he would not compete as an individual again.
“Physically I feel I could hop back out there and be competitive,” Froning said in April 2019 on the YouTube channel Team Richey. “I don’t feel like I need to do that any more. I don’t have that [killer switch] when I need to go out there and win the CrossFit Games as an individual. If I’m physically the same as someone else, but they have that little switch, obviously they are going to win.”
But that is not to say his competitive drive is dead. Since 2014, Froning has focused on team competitions, winning the Games with team CrossFit Mayhem four out of the last five years. Without the team competition to scratch an itch, fans can hope against hope his killer switch will turn back on for individual competitions. Choosing the team competition over the individuals is one thing, but when it is a choice between the individual competition or nothing, it is a different prospect.
The pair competed one-on-one during the 2015 Open, when CrossFit hosted a live workout between the two giants of the sport. Froning won that time, but at 32 would he still be able to defend his crown against the 30 year-old Fraser, who has improved year-on-year since they last faced-off?
Fraser came second in the 2020 Open, and Froning came joint 19th, so recent results would suggest Fraser is in finer fettle. But given Froning was not trying to qualify for the Games via the Open, it is hard to judge his effort levels or if he had peaked his condition at the right time.
The debate about who is the greatest has raged on and on. We might not get to see them compete against each other in their prime, but this might go someway to putting the debate to rest should the clash of the titans happen. Here’s hoping Froning will be tempted to do a U-turn on his comments, and enter the Games.
Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.