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Why These 10 Athletes Will (and Won't) Win the Crossfit Games


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Reps Ahead Pro 3, “Redemption,” featured everything we hoped to see—explosive action, strategy, smack talk, and some fast knockouts. Check out our full recap and behind-the-scenes rundown below.

  • We look at some of the odds-on favorites to win the Games this summer and make an argument for and against each one.

  • Three of the four Games qualifiers from the Asia Semifinal tested positive for banned substances. Games vet and “elder statesman” from the region, Ant Haynes, gave us his thoughts on the situation.


“I figured when you’re fighting somebody bigger than you, you’ve gotta take some swings. Those were haymakers.” - HWPO’s Jake Marconi on his Reps Ahead 3 strategy against Malachi Bennett


Credit: @chadmueller / Instagram

Sydney Wells, James Sprague, and Kyra Milligan Deliver Knockouts at Reps Ahead Pro 3 “Redemption”

On Saturday, June 29, redemption was earned. And knockouts were delivered.

The Reps Ahead Pro 3 Showcase — the third Reps Ahead event with professional athletes — went down in Thornton, Colorado. 

The energy inside MBS CrossFit Thornton was electric, and the elites showcased their fitness, grit, and sportsmanship in front of a packed gym.

The results:

  • Malachi Bennett defeated Jake Marconi at 40 seconds into the second round. 

  • Kyra Milligan defeated Kelly Stone at 1:49 in round two. 

  • James Sprague defeated Nick Mathew at 1:36 in round two.

  • Sydney Wells defeated Paige Powers at 2:37 in the first round.

Remind me: The Reps Ahead format is interval-based, pitting one athlete against another as they strive to reach a designated number of reps ahead of their opponent.

For this event, athletes tackled a sequence of:

  • 12 box jump-overs, 24/20-inches

  • 6 thrusters, 155/105 pounds  

  • 6 chest-to-bar pull-ups

The bouts were set to have a maximum of five rounds (three minutes of work and one minute of rest) or until an athlete reached a 14-rep lead.

Unlike the Pro 2 event, where each match went the distance, none of the head-to-head bouts on Saturday lasted longer than two rounds. 

The pros had the chance to watch local athletes attack the workout first in the community matches, gaining valuable insight before taking center stage. 

This one was going to get nasty in a hurry.


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😤💪 Reps Ahead Pro 3 Broadcast: In case you missed it over the weekend, the third iteration of the Reps Ahead Pro series, “Redemption,” went down in Denver.

  • Catch up on all the livestream action and find out more about this innovative competition format on B.Friendly Fitness.

😢 No Niki Brazier: Lost in some of the shuffle last week was a post by Morning Chalk Up friend and contributor Niki Brazier announcing that she will not be a sideline reporter at some stage of the Crossfit Games season for the first time in 10 years.

👂📢 Constantly Varied Conversations: John Wooley used his new platform to celebrate Sean Woodland’s role in the sport of CrossFit and highlight how CrossFit’s approach to communication with the community once again fell short.

ICYMI: Aniol Ekai wants to play a key role in the future of CrossFit in Europe. He took the first step by qualifying for the 2024 Crossfit Games at the French Throwdown. Learn more about his quest to be a better athlete and a better human.


Credit: @tamanephotography / Instagram

Why These 10 Athletes Will Win the 2024 CrossFit Games and Why They Won't

For the second year in a row at the CrossFit Games, there isn’t a clear front-runner to win either the men’s or women’s competitions at the CrossFit Games. 

  • Today, we are looking at some of the consensus favorites to place highly in Fort Worth and laying out one reason why we think they’ll be the Fittest on Earth and one reason we think they won’t end up on top of the podium.

The Men

Dallin Pepper

Why he will win: At only 22 years old, Dallin Pepper is entering his third CrossFit Games as an individual. This matches the three trips to the CrossFit Games he had as a teen athlete. 

Pepper finished only three points behind Jeffrey Adler at the North America East Semifinal by Syndicate Crown this year. 

  • However, a missed no-rep on Khrennikov’s final box jump and a couple of no-reps on Pepper moving the box in Event 3 cost him an event win and the overall competition title. 

With a different result in Event 3, Pepper would likely be a favorite to win the CrossFit Games.

Why he won’t win: Pepper finished in fifth at the 2023 CrossFit Games. He also finished eighth when all the 2024 CrossFit Games favorites (minus Medeiros) were in Austin for the Rogue Invitational during the off-season. 

  • At the 2023 TYR Wodaplooza, with Garard, Khrennikov, Vellner, and Fikowski in the field, Pepper finished seventh. 

The bottom line is when the best of the best are all in attendance, Pepper hasn’t cracked the top three.


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Credit: @ivan_the_one / Instagram

“Genuinely Heartbreaking:” Games Vet Ant Haynes Reacts to Three of Top Four Asia Semifinal Men Failing Drug Tests

As first reported last week by the Barbell Spin, four Semifinals athletes have tested positive for a banned substance this season so far.

Among the names were three of the top four men from the Asia Semifinal, including the overall winner and CrossFit Games qualifier Russia’s Ivan Kukartsev, as well as the third- and fourth-place finishers Ilyas Kuliev and Anatolii Borisenko, also from Russia.

Remind me: On June 26, 2024, CrossFit announced that Kukartsev tested positive for the banned substances GW1516-sulfone, GW1516-sulfoxide, and metabolites of GW501516, in addition to LGD-4033, dihydroxy-LGD-4033, and metabolites of LGD-4033. (You can see a breakdown of the banned drugs on CrossFit’s list here.)

Since the announcement, Ilya Makarov, the fifth-place athlete in the Asia Semifinal, has been backfilled into one of the spots on the Games roster.

Ant Haynes Rings In

Hong Kong’s Ant Haynes—who tore his UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) during the snatch event at this year’s Asia Semifinals and wasn’t able to finish that event or the final event—said the news felt “genuinely heartbreaking for many reasons.”

(Editor’s Note: Stay tuned later this week for our interview with Haynes, a two-time Games athlete, about his injury at Semifinals and his plans going forward.)


Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise? Send us a tip.

  • 💕Happy belated anniversary (6/28) to Matt and Niki Brazier.

  • Check out this amazing progress montage of Semifinal athlete Ella Price. Nice work, Ella 🙌.

  • Great job to Aleia of LofyFit in Scottsdale, AZ, on the 79-kilo/175-pound snatch PR.

  • Congratulations to all the winners from the Reps Ahead Pro Showcase on Saturday.

  • 🫶Congratulations to Riggs (7-month-old baby of Sean Sweeny) on the unassisted bar-hang.