Is this finally Patrick Vellner's year at the 2021 CrossFit Games?
The retirement of Mat Fraser has left a massive hole in the men's division, so of course, the pundits are already breaking down who will replace the five-time champion atop the throne.
One of the names being thrown out most commonly is Canadian Patrick Vellner. The 30-year-old won the 2020 CrossFit Open, besting Fraser, but narrowly missed the final five for the in-person competition of the 2020 CrossFit Games.
Vellner sustained a groin injury a few weeks out from the Games, and thus wasn't firing on all cylinders, which should scare opponents this year given he still finished within the top ten. A healthy Vellner without Fraser to take points from him could mean the timing is just right for the quintessential veteran of the sport.
Of course Vellner, who has finished second once, and third twice, is on the back end of his CrossFit career, and youngsters like Justin Medeiros, who came third at the Games, will only be stronger and more experienced this time around. One wonders if this may be the last kick at the can for one of the sport's biggest perennial contenders outside of American Noah Ohlsen.
Betting on any male athlete is a shot in the dark this year. Without Fraser dominating events and taking points away from others, there is a chance when the CrossFit Games kick off, we could see a real mix of finalists. The white jersey, which Fraser wore like a second skin, could bounce around every event, and the Games could come down to a final showdown.
This should be music to the ears of CrossFit fans. Vellner, Ohlsen, Medeiros, and guys like Samuel Kwant and Jeffrey Adler all battling it out right down to the final seconds or reps will make for some brilliant competitions.