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Health & Fit Mat Fraser Is Now the Fittest Man in History

17:46  26 october  2020
17:46  26 october  2020 Source:   menshealth.com

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This past weekend, on Mat Fraser’s way to earning his fifth-straight victory at the 2020 CrossFit Games, the number of mistakes he made can be counted on one hand. He staked his claim as the Fittest Man in history by racking up 1,150 points over the competition, nearly twice as many as his runner-up, Samuel Kwant. Given this level of dominance on his way to becoming the single-winningest athlete in CrossFit Games history, the small instances where Fraser faltered—then quickly regained his champion's form before allowing any doubt of his victory to creep in—are more illustrative than any other moment of how he became the Fittest Man in the sport.

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The first came at the end of Event 1. After a tumultuous season of cancellations, false-starts, and a remote Phase 1 where the top 30 men and women were whittled down to five, the athletes began Phase 2 at The Ranch, the property in Aromas, California owned by the Games organizer and the site of the first Games, in 2007.

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The workout was a 1,500-meter row followed by five rounds of 10 bar muscle-ups and 7 shoulder-to-overhead presses at an eye-popping 235 pounds. Fraser opened up a sizable lead by doing nearly every rep unbroken (without pausing), and on the 35th and final one, he pressed the bar halfway above his head, stalled, and then dropped it behind him. “A rare no-rep from Mat Fraser,” a commentator said. “That was a failure rep,” said another. “That wasn’t a mis-step rep.”

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Fifteen seconds later, Fraser cleaned the bar. After a deep breath, he easily jerked it above his head and stepped across the finish line.

Another failed rep came in Event 7, the Snatch Speed Ladder, which required competitors to complete reps of the difficult barbell exercise at ascending weights as quickly as possible. During the three heats, Fraser, who was on track to go to the Olympics as a weightlifter before breaking his back in two places, hit nearly every lift, which started at 225 and increased by 10 pounds per attempt. Then, at the final weight, 285, he landed in the squat with the bar slightly too far in front and dropped it. Eight seconds later, it was above his head.

fraser © Courtesy of CrossFit Inc. fraser

Other mistakes were so minor they barely registered. On the tenth event, a series of intervals with a sprint on the Assault Bike, a swim, GHD sit-ups, and then slam balls, Fraser's hand slipped on the final movement. That event, along with the CrossFit Total (a one-rep max of the back squat, strict press, and deadlift), were his worst finishes: second place in both.

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But Fraser wasn’t just nearly flawless. He was inspiring. On the 3-mile trail run, some of which was so steep that the competitors walked uphill with their hands on their knees, Fraser spent much of the race neck-and-neck with 21-year-old Games rookie Justin Medeiros. With the finish line in sight, Fraser sprinted past him and collapsed onto the ground. Then, the twist of the century was revealed, which made Games architect Dave Castro seem downright cruel: they’d have to run the entire course in reverse to finish.

Again, he was hunted by Medeiros, and again, Fraser opened up an insurmountable lead at the end. For an athlete known to throw up before events because of nerves, Fraser demonstrated mental fortitude that was unshakeable.

a group of baseball players standing on top of a dirt field: fraser © Courtesy of CrossFit Inc. fraser

By the third and final day of competition, it was mathematically impossible to catch Fraser, yet he never relented. “Tia and I put in a year like no other,” Mat said after winning Event 11, referring to Tia-Clair Toomey, his training partner and now the four-time Fittest Woman on Earth. “So, it’d almost be a waste to throttle back and not see what we can do.”

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On the last workout, billed as the most difficult in Games history, Fraser and Toomey were placed in adjacent lanes and did the workout in almost perfect unison. Together, they ran the first mile, did 100 handstand pushups, 200 pistol squats, 300 pullups, and then ran another mile, all while wearing a weight vest. To cross the finish line, they held hands.

fraser toomey © Courtesy of CrossFit Inc. fraser toomey

Throughout the weekend, Fraser was tested in every domain of fitness, from 165-pound thrusters, to sled sprints, to a 100-yard handstand walk that he almost completed in one attempt. He out-sprinted men who are taller and out-lifted men who are heavier. There was no doubt who would come home with the title.

Now, Fraser has the longest winning streak in the history of the sport, passing Rich Froning's four consecutive Games wins. And this year, Fraser won the Games with the largest margin ever. In previous years, he’s won with only a handful of first-place finishes, but of the 12 events this time around, he won 10. Now, he has 29 career wins total.

a person holding a sign: fraser © Courtesy of CrossFit Inc. fraser

So, where does the sport go from here? Noah Ohlsen, last year’s runner-up and the only person to seriously challenge Fraser’s dominance since 2016, finished in fourth this year, and Medeiros, the newcomer, was impressive but never a serious threat. Given Fraser’s margin of victory in both phases and the range of tests he’s proved his dominance in, one thing is clear: for as long as he wants to participate in CrossFit, the title is his to hold.

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