Up and Coming Male Athletes at Dubai

Written by Brian Friend

Last time we featured three young women who may have been unknown to most in the old format, but will be more relevant under this new structure. Today we turn our attention to three men, all of whom are 23 or younger, who have bright futures ahead of them in the sport, and will be taking the field this year in Dubai.


Samuel Cournoyer (Canada, 22 years old)

Sam has everything a young athlete in the sport could want. At only 22 years old he’s already competed in 5 Opens and has improved every year. Last year he placed 168th worldwide, qualified for the East Regional and took 11th there. He’s got an awesome training environment at Deka CrossFit where he’s coached by Michele Letendre and gets to workout occasionally with the likes of Pat Vellner and Laura Horvath. He competed at the Granite Games this past September and finished 4th. And he’s one of a small number of athletes who participated in, and qualified for, both the Dubai Fitness Championship and Wodapalooza online qualifiers.

This entire year is experimental for him, but that’s what’s so great about this format. More opportunities for young athletes to throw their names into the ring with the established veterans and walk away knowing just where they stand. Sam will be hard pressed to qualify for the Games this year, but he’s an athlete that’s worth knowing about as he’s likely to be in several sanctioned event fields, and will be vying for a Games spot in years to come.

Colten Mertens (USA, 20 years old)

For now, there’s still no doubt about it, if you’re an up and coming, aspiring CrossFit athlete in the United States, the road is harder for you than in any other country in the world. However, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Colten Mertens is a unique case. He’s 20 years old, he’s only 5’4” (that’s less than the average height of a female Games athlete), and weighs 180 lbs. All of these things would seem to be working against him…. BUT, he does exceptionally well in online qualifiers. Last year in the Open he struggled with the heavy lift, otherwise he would have finished significantly higher than his 434th place worldwide placing. But it’s worth noting that he finished 5th worldwide in 18.5, he placed 4th in the online qualifier for Dubai this year (you may have heard of the guys who beat him- Streat Hoerner, Willy Georges, and Jacob Heppner), and its begs the question of whether or not someone who excels at online qualifiers will be able to qualify through the Open under the ‘top 20 worldwide qualify for the Games’ rule.

As far as the live competitions go last year he competed on a team with CrossFit Kilo. They took 5th in the Central Regional, qualifying for the Games where they placed 19th. On the individual side of things Dubai will be new territory for him. It’s not realistic to expect him to be in the top 10 come the end of the weekend, although he can do quite well on some of the events. At 20 years old, he’s been impressive so far, and has time on his side, making his a name you might just want to know.

Lazar Dukic (Serbia, 23 years old)

He got into this field because enough other people declined their invitation. But for a young up-and-comer, who has a legitimate chance to qualify as a national champion for the 2019 CrossFit Games, the experience of being able to compete in a prestigious event like Dubai, which includes the caliber of athletes this Men’s field has, is priceless for him.

He was 181st worldwide in last years Open, 1st in Serbia, and finished 8th at the European Regional. He’s the kind of competitor that can show up with no expectations and nothing to lose. He should be brimming with confidence and is undoubtedly excited about the new format this season. He represents the type of young, international athlete we’ll be seeing more and more in years to come.

The six young athletes featured in this two part series leading into Dubai represent the new era of the CrossFit Games season. This format creates opportunity for young athletes all over the world to get their names out there and show what they’re made of. Throughout this year, the CrossFit fanbase will be introduced to several new, exciting, and relevant faces; and it all starts this week in Dubai!

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