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Top 5 Contenders for the Women’s Podium in Cape Town

Date Published: Jan 25, 2019
By: Brian Friend

It’s going to be an international affair for the women in South Africa this year. The top six qualifiers after the online competition represent six separate countries. In the end though, only one of them can earn an invitation to the 2019 CrossFit Games. These are the five women who are most likely to be able to do so:

Michelle Merand

Michelle earned a wild card invitation to the event as the defending Champion from Fittest in Cape Town in 2018. She’s from South Africa, and will have all the inherent advantages any hometown athlete has, including the experience of competing their in previous years. Michelle has been to Regionals the past two years and has improved her worldwide Open placement every year since she first registered in 2015. It will be tough to repeat as a champion this year, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t in the running to do so.

Alessandra Pichelli

No athlete competing in South Africa has more experience in elite level competitions than Alessandra. She’s been to the Games each of the last six years as an individual, and before that she podiumed at the Games as part of a team. She has won her Region three different times, including last year in the West Regional. She’s represented Canada on the Invitational team, and she is coming off a 6th place finish at the Dubai CrossFit Championship. Cape Town will be a new experience for her, but given all she’s already accomplished, Pichelli is certainly a threat to win this competition.

"Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc."
Photo courtesy of: CrossFit Games

Mia Akerlund

Mia is a former Games athlete from 2015 with Team CrossFit Fabriken. The last three years she’s been trying her hand as an individual and has been consistently improving. Last year she was 9th place at the Meridian Regional. She turned some heads at the Dubai CrossFit Championships when she won the 1 rep max snatch event (104 kg). She went on to finish 10th overall in Dubai with strong event finishes of 2nd in a rope climb/handstand walking event and third in the snatch/clean and jerk event. Needless to say, when a barbell is in her hand it’s both fun and impressive to watch. Her gymnastics skills are strong too, but as we know, the ability to win events, which Mia certainly can, will vault her up towards the top of the leaderboard.

Photo courtesy of: CrossFit Games

Courtney Haley

At only 24 years old, Courtney has already participated in the Pacific Regional 4 times! In her first appearance, back in 2015, her team, CrossFit Rocks, qualified for the CrossFIt Games. For three years since then she’s competed as an individual and has never placed lower than 7th. Last year, she finished 4th and earned herself a individual spot at the Games where she had a respectable finish of 24th in her individual rookie season. As you know, there are some pretty fit Aussie women in this sport! Courtney is definitely one of them and will be looking to represent her country well in South Africa.

Photo courtesy of: CrossFit Games

Katrin Davidsdottir

Like Cole Sager, Katrin received a wild card invitation to compete at Fittest in Cape Town back in November. As a two-time CrossFit Games champion (2015 and 2016), she obviously needs no introduction. Interestingly for Katrin this year though, is that under the new rulebook she’ll have to compete in the Open representing Iceland. That means that only one of the dynamic Icelandic trio of women (Annie Thorisdottir and Sara Sigmundsdottir) can come away as their National champion, and therefore, all three will be looking elsewhere for the opportunity to earn Sanctional ™  invitations to this years CrossFit Games. For Katrin, that journey starts in South Africa.

Photo courtesy of: CrossFit Games

Dark Horse Pick - Constanza Cabrera

Constanza has qualified for Regionals each of the last three years. She’s the two-time reigning fittest woman from Chile. And she also finished second in the online qualifier for this event. One of the great things about the new format is for fans to be introduced to men and women who have done well in their regions, but come up a little short of the Games, that this year, are quite likely to qualify as a National Champion in their country. Constanza is someone for whom that is true, but that doesn’t mean she can’t also qualify, compete, and make a statement at sanctioned events, which is certainly what she intends to do in Cape Town.


MY PREDICTIONS:

  1. Katrin Davidsdottir
  2. Alessandra Pichelli
  3. Mia Akerlund
  4. Michelle Merand
  5. Courtney Haley
  6. Chelsea Hughes
  7. Constanza Cabrera
  8. Simone Arthur
  9. Dina Swift
  10. Lindsey Valenzuela

Brian (@coachbrianfriend on Instagram) is a free lancing writer and has also written an article each for Men & Teams FiCT predictions - stay tuned!