Mat Fraser, Tia-Clair Toomey CrossFit best

Mat Fraser, Tia-Clair Toomey CrossFit best
CrossFit via CNN
Three-time CrossFit Games Champion Mat Fraser's legacy was born not from greatness, but from a bitter defeat.

After a year of change in CrossFit, the end result is eerily similar with Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey winning their fourth and third straight CrossFit Games titles respectively.

The Games, held in Madison, Wisconsin, acts as the sport’s annual World Championships and tests athletes strength, endurance, speed, agility, gymnastics, power and overall fitness over four days and 12 events to crown the “Fittest Man and Woman on Earth.”

Each event is kept secret ahead of time and can range from open-water swimming, to an obstacle course, to weight-lifting, gymnastics, sprints to combinations of any of these and everything in between.

Toomey, the two-time defending women’s champion, made her presence felt immediately on day one, pulling away from the field minutes into the first event one, lapping many of her rivals to start the week with a statement-making win.

By Saturday, the Australian 26-year-old had a healthy lead which only continued to grow, sealing her title before the final event.

Toomey, who also won a Commonwealth Gold medal in weightlifting in 2017 and competed at the Rio Olympics, becomes the first woman to win three CrossFit Games titles, cementing her legacy as one of the sports all-time greats.

“It’s definitely going to go down as one of the highlights of my life,” she remarked after receiving her third gold medal.

READ: Mat Fraser and the loss that launched a legacy

READ: When Tia met Shane — How CrossFit’s power couple met

Fraser fights back

For Fraser — whose modus operandi the last few years has been to establish a lead early and slowly pull away from the field, wrapping up the title before the final event has begun — this year’s Games proved not as simple.

For the first time since winning his maiden title back in 2016, Fraser went into the weekend wearing his regular competition shirt, relenting the coveted white leader’s jersey to fellow American Noah Ohlsen.

Ohlsen managed to maintain his lead deep into Sunday before Fraser wrestled it back in the penultimate event of the week, sealing his title with one final dominant performance.

This year’s competition saw a series of format changes from previous years, resulting in a frenzied first few days of competition which saw the field reduced from 148 men and 134 women on Thursday to just 10 men and women by Saturday morning.

This resulted in many of the biggest stars of the sport eliminated early, including both men’s and women’s runners-up from last year, Patrick Vellner and Laura Horvath.

The field was the largest in the sports modern history, with national champions from 114 different countries invited to compete.

Team Mayhem

There were also changes made to the team event. Previously, teams had to be assembled from athletes at the same gym, but now star athletes from far and wide were able to pool their talents to create “super teams.”

Despite these changes, it was a familiar team standing atop the podium on Sunday.

Led by CrossFit legend Rich Froning. His team, CrossFit Mayhem Independence, based in Froning’s hometown of Cookeville, Tennessee, began the competition with two straight event wins on Thursday and never relinquished the lead.

This victory marks Mayhem’s fourth team victory, and Froning’s 8th, having won the Individual Men’s competition four times between 2011 and 2014.

Froning’s record of Individual Games victories is now shared with Fraser, who has been living in Froning’s home town of Cookeville since 2017.

Qualifying for the CrossFit Games began in December with various international competitions, including the “CrossFit Open” where hundreds of thousands of athletes, both professional and amateur, went head-to-head remotely in order to earn a spot in Madison.