When it comes to top performances at the 2012 CrossFit Games, it’s very hard to look past Rich Froning Jr. Not only did he win his second straight title, but he did so in devastating fashion, beating his nearest rival by more than 100 points.
However, for me, it was Jason Khalipa’s performance that impressed me the most.
On the record books, the 2008 champion will go down with a 5th place finish next to his name. But it was the way he got there that won me over.
Khalipa had a horrible start in the opening event at Camp Pendleton, and found himself on the wrong end of the leaderboard after day one. However, the setback didn’t kill off his Khalipa’s fighting spirit, as he clawed his way back into the top five with a number of amazing performances.
The whole time, I couldn’t help but think about his 2009 Games campaign, when he went through a similar ordeal.
I thought it was fitting to compare both years in a bit more detail.
2009 CrossFit Games
Khalipa went into the 2009 CrossFit Games as the reigning champion, and the favourite to reclaim the title of being the fittest on earth. However, his dreams of going back to back were all but vanished after a nightmare opening event.
The first workout had all athletes, men and women, run several kilometers through the hills of Aromas. To say Khalipa struggled is an understatement. The reigning champ collapsed several times before even reaching the finish line and finished 72nd out of 74 competitors. In less than an hour, his chances of winning were virtually dashed.
Amazingly, Khalipa, whose health was now in question, competed in the next event (deadlift ladder) and won! Two events later, the 2008 Champ had another victory, posting the best time in the couplet workout and all of a sudden found himself back in the top ten!
But his comeback wasn’t over just yet. In the final four workouts Khalipa finished 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, and 5th to shoot up the leaderboard and finish 5th overall, just 28 points behind winner Mikko Salo.
Had the first event not been included in the Games schedule, Khalipa would have been crowned the 2009 CrossFit Games champion. His effort was so impressive he was handed the ‘Spirit of the Games’ award.
2012 CrossFit Games
After an impressive performance during the Open and the Regionals, Jason Khalipa went into the 2012 Games as one of the top contenders for the title. However, it’s fair to say his chances of winning were crushed when Dave Castro announced there would be an extra day of competition, starting with a grueling 20 kilometer triathlon through the hills of Camp Pendleton!
Just like he did in 2009, Khalipa struggled in the event and finished 31st out of 45 competitors. While he looked in better shape than he did three years ago as he crossed the finish line, the task of winning the Games for a second time become very difficult.
The task got even harder when he fell over during the next obstacle course event, placing 23rd overall to finish Day 1 in the bottom half of the leaderboard.
Day 2 didn’t start any better for Khalipa, finishing 23rd in the Broad Jump event and 24th in the GHD Ball Toss. All of a sudden, the former champ found himself well outside the top 25 and in serious doubt of making the cut!
Then, just as he did in 2009, Khalipa turned things around with top ten finishes in the next two events, before stringing together three second place finishes in a row. In the space of one and a half days, Khalipa was back inside the top 5!
In the final three events, Khalipa finished 5th, 4th and 4th to finish 5th overall, just as he did in 2009.
While his 2009 comeback was probably more impressive, there is no doubt his performance at the 2012 CrossFit Games won the hearts of many watching at the Home Depot Center.
I, for one, was inspired by his comeback, and if there was to be a male
‘Spirit of the Games’ award this year, I’d have no hesitation in giving my vote to Jason Khalipa.
Here’s a video of Khalipa at the 2009 CrossFit Games: