In the new format CrossFit has unrolled this year, the community will be getting exposure to athletes they may not have been familiar with in the past. Most of us had taken particular interest in the athletes competing in our own Region, but never bothered to look too far down the leaderboard in other Regions.
Under the new layout, we all have the opportunity to take a more global perspective. Here are a few of the up and coming athletes in the sport competing at Dubai, who, if they haven’t previously been in your Region, you may not be aware of. All of these athletes are 24 or younger!
Karin Freyova (Slovakia, 23 years old)
For athletes like Karin Freyova the new format is a gift. It’s no secret that it’s always been difficult to qualify as an individual woman out of Europe. Sam Briggs missed one year, Katrin Davidsdottir missed one year, last year Thuri Helgadottir didn’t make it… it’s just a competitive region for the ladies.
Karin Freyova was the fittest woman in Slovakia last year, finished 60th worldwide in the Open, and placed 7th in that European Regional. She is looking good coming in to this event too with a 6th place finish in the online qualifier.
She likely won’t threaten for the podium spots with the top women yet, but she certainly has a chance to qualify for the Games as a national champion, and she’s already got some impressive credentials that make her a woman worth knowing about at the beginning of this new season.
Gabriela Migala (Poland, 20 years old)
It’s been a popular question among analysts and those who closely follow the sport for years now; when will we see a former teen athlete make the jump to the individual stage and have a significant impact?
Seeing as the sport began and originally grew in the US, teenagers from America had predominantly been at the top of the teenage podiums at the Games. Names like Angelo DiCicco, Nick Paladino, and George Sterner on the boy’s side, and Haley Adams, Kayla Stephano, and Ashleigh Wosny (who is also competing in Dubai) for the girls. But none of them have yet to make as significant of an impact in the Open division as Poland’s Gabriela Migala.
Europeans are most likely to know her seeing as she won event 1 at the European Regional this year. At 19 years old she missed a qualifying spot by just 1 spot and 34 points. That, however, was not her first time in the spotlight. In 2016 she stood on the podium at the Games, taking 3rd in the 16-17 year old girls division.
She also has experience at Dubai where she was 13th overall last year. Notably, 10 of the 12 women who beat her were previous Games athletes. So, she has a variety of experience in competition, but also against some of the best in the sport. She placed 11th in the online qualifier for Dubai this year, ahead of several Games athletes (like Bethany Shadburne and Camilla Salomonsson).
You can expect her to have some really good events, perhaps on more of the endurance based ones, but she’s rather strong as well, she posted a clean of 247 lbs in last year’s Open which was good enough for 34th worldwide on 18.2A. The women’s field is deep at Dubai, but I think, even at only 20 years old, she has a legitimate chance to finish in the top ten.
Dani Speegle (USA, 24 years old)
Even if you don’t live in the Southeast part of the US, you might know who Dani is depending on how closely you’ve been following along in this offseason. She was 80th worldwide in the Open last year, and finished 8th in the Atlantic Regional, including an event win on the grueling dumbbell chipper. She also did exceptionally well in the online qualifiers for both Dubai, where she finished third behind only Laura Horvath and Jamie Greene, and for Wodapalooza, which she won!
I know I’m not alone when I say that I’m excited to see her compete with some of the biggest names in the sport in these sanctioned events. The women’s field is loaded with big names, but I expect Dani to be flirting with the top 10 in this event, and we know we’ll be seeing more of her throughout the season, which makes her, and the rest of the up-and-coming athletes, names worth knowing as the 2019 CrossFit season gets underway in Dubai in just a couple of days!