It’s been a tough year for CrossFit. On top of a global pandemic which ended the season before spring, axing some 17 Sanctionals in the process, the Games almost never went off. They were pushed back, then scaled down, and the team competition which features Rich Froning, a fan favourite and the sport’s godfather, was axed. In the end, 30 men and 30 women competed online via their home gyms, and then 10 made their way to Aromas in California for a three-day final. The fact that many of the events took place at the birthplace of the sport, “The Ranch”, was fitting, as 2020 has been a storied year of destruction, rebirth and renewal for CrossFit. There were no country champions, no fans, no atmosphere, but CrossFit got its Games done in a bubble format, much like other professional sporting leagues have done in this pandemic landscape. If this wasn’t enough to deal with, CrossFit endured its largest scandal in its 20-year existence. Former CEO and founder Greg Glassman’s inappropriate and outright racist behaviour in person and on social media saw his own community, thousands of “boxes”, athletes and major sponsors around the world turn on him and the sport he first started doing in his garage back in Santa Cruz in 2000. At one point, CrossFit looked all but dead as a sport and a company. There was talk competitors might replace the brand with a different moniker related to functional fitness. Employees left and the negative headlines kept rolling in. After stepping down as CEO and appointing Dave Castro as his successor, Glassman took the hint, sold the company and dishonourably discharged himself from the world of CrossFit. Tia-Clair Toomey is on cruise control on final day at CrossFit Games Enter CrossFit’s new saviour, Eric Roza . The tech founder is everything the sport needed to move on: progressive, a savvy intellectual with boatloads of business acumen, and he also does CrossFit. He bought the company along with an investment firm and slowly the community got back on board. He pushed the Games through, and this weekend’s competition went off without a hitch, both logistically and philosophically speaking. Mat Fraser became CrossFit’s greatest athlete of all time , absolutely demolishing his rivals, winning almost every event, and holding off repeated challenges. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess, but the debate is over, the sport has its Michael Jordan, its new benchmark. CrossFit has its GOAT . On the women’s side, Tia-Clair Toomey, who trains with Fraser, cemented her place as the top female competitor of all time . She held off a hard charge at times from two-time winner Katrin Davidsdottir, who capped off an impressive resurgence season from a serious back injury. But ultimately, Toomey was every bit as dominant as Fraser, and is just one title shy of his record five ‘Fittest on Earth’ wins. The future of the sport is also bright. Justin Medeiros and his spectacular mullet are just 21, and at times the rookie looked to be on par with the legendary Fraser. He is going to be a beast for years to come and brings a fresh sense of style along with it. Doing handstand walks while still wearing sunglasses typifies the type of guy he is, he doesn’t hide his character, he lets it flourish and fuel him . Teenager Haley Adams showed youth can definitely showcase veteran traits. She tussled with Toomey at times, and displayed a grit and resilience most spend years trying to formulate. If and when Toomey decides to walk away from the sport, she will surely pass her crown off to Adams. Canadian Jeffrey Adler showed talent mixed with persistence can pay off in spades for those with patience. At 26, he will surely challenge for podium spots for years to come. Noah Ohlsen, who was expected to challenge Fraser for the crown, probably didn’t have the Games he was hoping for, but Ohlsen is still the coolest cat around and loved by all. Castro also delivered a Games for the ages. We were told he was programming the toughest events ever, and the maestro delivered a few masterful strokes of genius. Telling athletes who thought they’d finished a gruelling 5km trail run that they had to turn around and run the course backwards was as villainous as it was delicious. The move by Castro typifies what it takes to excel at the sport. To win, you have to go places you never thought possible, and find reserves you never knew you had. This is what CrossFit is all about, finding your limits, testing them, and ultimately expanding them. After a tumultuous year of controversy, the world of CrossFit has risen like a phoenix from the ashes. Balance and order have been restored, and the future couldn’t be brighter. How the sport moves forward with in-person competitions is still anyone’s guess, but the promise is bountiful. When it comes to CrossFit, much like its athletes, adversity is met with hard work and a desire to push on, even when things look down and out. This year the sport was tested like never before and emerged stronger than ever.