In 2016, I went to Carson in California to watch the CrossFit Games for the first time. In a stroke of luck, we had seats in the front row to witness the beginning of the most dominant era in the sport. Many will remember the famous call by Sean Woodland during the Suicide Sprint on Sunday morning of “What cannot this man do?” as the stand-out moment from that weekend for Fraser. We watched Fraser finish every workout directly in front of us. In what is one of the more controversial events in Games history, the Separator, everyone including Fraser was struggling to meet the standard for the ring handstand push-ups. But as professional athletes (and champions more specifically) must do, they adapt to circumstances on the fly and find a way to get the job done. Mat Fraser retires from CrossFit in shock announcement Fraser ended up fourth overall in the event, but it wasn’t his finish that stood out. The final two movements in that workout were 21 overhead squats and 20 burpees over the bar. Fraser approached his bar for the overhead squats trailing Josh Bridges in their heat. The athletes were required to advance the bar after a specific number of reps. Most athletes used that as an opportunity to drop the barbell and reset, but not Fraser. He stepped forward, with the barbell still overhead, and hits an additional rep, before ultimately failing his second rep. Bill Grundler was on the call and you’ll hear him say: “Oh yeah, he is attacking … he’s in the attack mindset, he’s not playing defensive, he’s playing offensive, that’s where Mat needs to stay.” That’s exactly where he did stay, in the attack mindset for five more years as he chased down and then obliterated all of Rich Froning’s individual records. Fraser won his first CrossFit Games title that year, then went on to win four more. During the five-year stretch as the “Fittest Man On Earth”, Fraser competed in 72 Games events, winning 26, finishing in the top three in 47, and only finishing 20th or worse three times. His average margin of victory was 242 points and he accumulated 86 per cent of all possible points available with an average event finish of fourth. The numbers are mind-blowing, but it’s even more impressive when you consider the variety and array of seasons he had to navigate to achieve his goals as 2016, 2017 and 2018 were pretty straightforward years. They were similar to the four years Froning won the Games (2011-2014), the process was predictable: compete in the Open to qualify for Regionals, compete at Regionals to qualify for the Games, compete at the Games, and win. Tia-Clair Toomey praises Fraser as CrossFit champion retires Following the 2018 Games, a massive upheaval at CrossFit headquarters drastically changed the sport’s landscape. New qualification processes appeared in the form of national champions through the Open, and Sanctional opportunities around the world where winning could earn you a Games ticket. That season Fraser won the Open outright, subsequently making him the fittest in the United States and securing a spot at the Games. He also competed at the Dubai CrossFit Championship before the Open, which he won and at the Rogue Invitational, which he also won. New season, new rules, same result. The 2020 season was set up similar to 2019, until the coronavirus pandemic threw everything into chaos. Fortunately for Fraser, he had once again already secured a spot at the Games via multiple different avenues (fittest in the United States in the Open, top 20 in the Open, and as a Sanctional winner at Strength in Depth). That year, however, there was legitimate concern that the Games may never happen, or that even if they did, it would have to be under drastically different circumstances. Ultimately, we had a two-part CrossFit Games. Stage one took place online and featured 30 athletes on both sides (men and women). Fraser won that handily, sweeping the classic CrossFit events with four wins and beating second-place finisher Noah Ohlsen by 168 points. The second stage took place in northern California, where only the top five men and top five women were able to compete. The biggest hurdle for Fraser was avoiding the coronavirus and getting inside the Games bubble. Once he had accomplished that, it was business as usual. What Fraser did is something this sport may never see again. He won 10 of the 12 events and took second in the other two (he lost those events by a mere seven pounds and eight seconds). He won by 545 points, with runner-up Samuel Kwant on 605 points in total. The dominance is unparalleled (yes, even compared to Froning). The maniacal drive to win is undeniable, and as we have started to see these in the past few months – and presumably will only learn more about in the months and years to come as he shares more of his training regimens and strict lifestyle choices – it too will be hard to dispute. It cannot be said enough, the unique combination of God-given talent and an obsession to win that this man possessed is second to none. Some have suggested his demeanour during competition is off-putting, rude or arrogant, but they are likely people who have never been so dedicated to the pursuit of something that they are mentally and physically unable to let anything prevent them from achieving it. Mat Fraser is that man.