The CrossFit Games were created to answer one question: Who is the fittest man or woman on the planet? While on a quest to find that person, we have seen incredible feats of strength, endurance, and skill, but nothing comes close to the display of heart and commitment we saw from Russian-born competitor Roman Khrennikov, on the final day of the competition.
What are the CrossFit Games?
The CrossFit season begins with the CrossFit Open, the largest fitness competition in the world. Athletes compete in three workouts across three weeks and submit their scores online. In 2023, this competition had more than 300,000 athletes competing. The top 10% from this round move on to the quarter-finals. The top 60 from the quarter-finals advance to the semi-finals. The last round of competition is the CrossFit Games held in Madison, Wisconsin, where the top 40 men and women from around the world face off to determine who is the fittest.
If at first, you don’t succeed.
Before Khrennikov excelled in CrossFit workouts in front of the world, he enjoyed breakdancing and rowing, and participated in numerous Olympic sports at the school of the Olympic Reserve. In 2015, Khrennikov started doing CrossFit, which encompasses many of these sports. In 2018, he qualified for the CrossFit Games for the first time but couldn’t get a visa to compete in person. Khrennikov would qualify for the next four years but would be denied a visa each time. He wouldn’t give up, and in 2022 his persistence paid off with some help from the CrossFit community.
Pat and Roza Gilles, owners of Pat’s Gym, a CrossFit affiliate, stepped up to help him make it to the games. Roza, who is from Uzbekistan, knew the difficulties of securing a visa. The two sponsored Khrennikov and allowed him to stay at their house to train. With a visa in hand, Khrennikov competed in person at the 2022 CrossFit Games, where he took second place.
Never Give Up
At this year’s CrossFit Games, Khrennikov made headlines for his heart and persistence. In the tenth workout of the competition, Khrennikov broke a bone and tore a ligament in his foot. Despite his injuries, he chose to keep going. In Workout 11, athletes had to traverse parallel bars, complete 30 heavy rope double-unders and one seated hand-over-hand sled pull eight times as fast as they could.
Khrennikov did all of this on one foot, leaving the crowd in awe. Check out his extraordinary performance below:
In the last workout, Khrennikov timed out, but with the points he scored up to that point, he was solidly on the podium in second place. After the games were over, he was asked what kept him going. His response was his son.
“I want to be a hero for my son and have him see me fight until the end,” he told reporters in a post-competition interview.
From obtaining his visa to stepping onto the competition floor, Roman Khrennikov has embodied persistence, but it’s his quote after the Games that we can genuinely learn from.
Often, when we are going through a difficult challenge, we tend to focus on how it affects us only, not how it affects those around us. Like Khrennikov, if we don’t quit in the face of adversity, it could have a lasting impact on the next generation and beyond.