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Justin Medeiros is the CrossFit Games defending champion. Photo: CrossFit Games

ExplainerCrossFit Games 2022: Who is Justin Medeiros, Mat Fraser’s successor and The Fittest on Earth defending champion?

  • Justin Medeiros worked with Fraser to take his performance to the next level and win the CrossFit Games, now he is back to defend his title
  • The Californian was a wrestler and American football player before taking up CrossFit

Justin Medeiros will defend his CrossFit Games title next week, and once again he is the man to beat.

The 23-year-old burst onto the CrossFit scene two years ago by qualifying for the Games. Covid-19 restrictions meant that just five athletes made the final cut, to compete at an in person event in California.

As a young rookie, Medeiros stood out among the other experienced athletes – Mat Fraser had won the Games three times and would go on to claim his fourth title, Noah Olhsen had finished runner up in 2019, Jeffrey Adler was at the Games for the second time and Samuel Kwant had been to three Games, finishing 13th in 2019.
Mat Fraser leading the pack, with Justin Medeiros over his left shoulder, during the trail run at the CrossFit Games 2020. Photo: CrossFit Games

Medeiros showed he was there to compete, and not just take part, by finishing second in the first event.

But it was the fifth event where he really made an impression. The five athletes were sent on a gruelling 5km trail run, up and down over dusty hills. Fraser and Medeiros finished first and second, then the event director, Dave Castro, coldly told them to go again. There was an unexpected second lap.

Did Justin Medeiros bypass a generation of CrossFitters?

The two men tousled for first spot. Ultimately, Fraser prevailed, but Medeiros pushed him to the end. Going toe to toe with the champ earned Medeiros a lot of credit and marked him out as one to watch.

Ultimately, Medeiros finished third overall in his first Games.
Fraser then retired and the CrossFit community was abuzz as to who would take his crown. Despite Medeiros’s impressive performance, most of the speculation centred on other veteran athletes.
(From left) Samuel Kwant, Mat Fraser and Justin Medeiros on the CrossFit Games podium 2020. Photo: CrossFit Games

Meanwhile, Medeiros sought out Fraser as an old sage and asked him for advice and training in preparation for his next Games appearance.

Whatever he learned from Fraser worked. Medeiros returned to the CrossFit Games in 2021 and won, despite only winning one event. He was consistently up with the top athletes in each event and acquired enough overall points to take the title.

The winner of the CrossFit Games is crowned The Fittest on Earth and earns themselves a whopping US$310,000 in prize money, in addition to money for each individual event win.


Medeiros’s results are eerily similar to his mentor Fraser. When Fraser took his first title in 2016, he also only won one event. Fraser then went on a streak to win four straight titles – by his final Games, Fraser won 10 of the 12 events. Perhaps this is a foreshadowing for Medeiros’s carer.

Justin Medeiros wins the CrossFit Games 2021. Photo: Handout

Medeiros is from California. At high school, he was a wrestler and played American football. He started CrossFit at just 13, initially to train for his primary sports. However, he enjoyed it and took to it like a duck to water.


By 18, he finished 15th at the 2017 California Regional and 14th the next year, when the regional had expanded to the West Regionals in 2018.

Medeiros studied kinesiology at Boise State University. As Covid-19 hit and classes moved online, Mederios took the opportunity to move to Washington state to train full time.

This was the launch pad he needed to take his sport to the next level. Under the guidance of coach Adam Neiffer, at CrossFit Fort Vancouver, Medeiros qualified for the 2020 Games and the rest is history.