Photo Credit: Tye Arnett
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It was moving day on Saturday as Day 2 of the Torian Pro Semifinal provided fireworks and some leaderboard changes at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane, Australia.
Three games spots in each division remain on the line with both the men’s and women’s leaderboard far from settled at the end of the day. Tia-Clair Toomey is still dominating the women’s side and the men’s side sees Jay Crouch and Ricky Garard separating themselves from the rest of the pack while the team division appears to have their three Games representatives already settled. Here are four takeaways from day two you need to know.
Ellie’s Huge Day 2: Last year Ellie Turner had to fight for her first Games ticket and had to deal with talk that she didn’t earn her ticket due to Toomey and Jamie Simmonds’ absences leaving extra spots available. She proved her detractors wrong with a spirited showing at the Games, motivating her to train harder and make the Games with those two athletes in the field.
After Day 1 it looked as though she would be on the outside looking in as she sat in sixth place, three spots and 24 points off the Games qualifying spot. Day 2 provided her an opportunity as the events favored someone of her skillset.
She was able to show off her improved strength with a fourth place finish in the “Barbell Complex” to start her day, cycling a weight of 220 pounds. But it would be Event 4, “Don’t Stop Me Now” that vaulted her into position for the final Games qualifying spot. She had a slight lead over Toomey coming off the echo bike in the first round but like most athletes she would see the five-time champ pull away as she was the only athlete to complete the workout in two rounds. Turner knew her race wasn’t against Toomey but the rest of the field kept the gas on the pedal and finished second with a time of 9:04.36, :22 seconds ahead of Kara Saunders.
Her Day 2 performances placed her in the final Games qualifying spot, just four points ahead of Jamie Simmonds and 14 points in front of Madeline Sturt. Can Turner hold on to that spot tomorrow and return to Madison? Only a repeat of today’s performance can guarantee that outcome.
Three for one: As close as the women’s race for the final Games spot is, an equally compelling one is brewing in the men’s division as three athletes are battling for the final Games spot. Kiwi newcomer Bayley Martin currently holds that coveted spot with a 14 point lead over Games veteran and defending Torian Pro champion Royce Dunne. Just one point behind Dunne is Bayden Brown, who has been trying to dig himself out of the hole he put himself in with his 20th place finish in Event 2.
Brown is a perfect example of how an athlete can’t afford a bad finish with just three spots available and only six events at a semifinal. He’s the only men’s athlete across this weekend’s semifinals so far with multiple event wins including a win in event 4 to close out the day.
Building the “Energy”: Yesterday it was about bringing the “energy” for CrossFit Urban Energy, today it was all about building on that same energy. Mission accomplished as the team of couples (Johann and Katelin Van Zyl/Adam and Jay-Lee Mansy) swept the team events on day 2, giving them three out of four event wins and a 15-point lead in the standings ahead of upstarts CrossFit EXF and CrossFit Selwyn.
The team has put themselves in an excellent position to return to the Games and will be looking to improve on their seventh place finish from last year.
Tia Doing Tia Things: With her two event wins on Saturday, Toomey has now won five-straight events in live competition dating back to her win in the final event at the Rouge Invitational. But it’s the manner of how she is winning that has solidified what the CrossFit Games media team has been pushing since the end of the 2021 Games, that she is the most dominating athlete ever in CrossFit.
As we stated in the lead-up to the Semifinal, the women’s field is full of podium contenders such as Kara Saunders, Jamie Simmonds and Ellie Turner, any of those athletes could staka a claim as the top female in the sport if not for Toomey . Unfortunately Toomey is still around and she made her presence known on Saturday. She won the “Barbell Complex” with a lift of 245 pounds and could have gone for 250 and the world record but elected to just go for the win by 10 pounds over Saunders.
The final event of the day saw her break the programming as she completed “Don’t Stop Me Now” in two rounds, the only athlete, man or woman to do so. She finished in 5:59.13, over a minute faster than Turner (three minutes if you include the two minute rest period that Turner had to take).
The most telling thing about Toomey is what she did after winning these events on Friday and Saturday, encouraging other athletes still on the competition floor. Giving young athletes like Georgia Pryor encouragement and advice as the 22-year old struggled through the final workout. Toomey has assumed the role of ambassador and a role model for the newer generation of Oceania CrossFitters and looks comfortable and proud to be in that role.