Miami native is competing to become the “Fittest on Earth”
Miami native Noah Ohlsen ran a tight game in the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin, but came just short of the title and the $300,000 grand prize, placing second overall.
That’s still an incredible feat after four days and 12 grueling workouts against some of the best CrossFit athletes from all over the world.
All weekend it looked like Ohlsen, a 28-year-old CrossFit athlete, would overtake eventual winner Mat Fraser, who won the Games the past three years in a row. Fraser was thought to be unbeatable. He continued his winning streak, but Ohlsen gave him a run for his money, literally.
“Taking second place in the world should have no buts about it,” said Ohlsen over email.
“BUT having been in the lead for a majority of the second half of the competition, taking second is a little bittersweet. Like 99% sweet and only 1% bitter. It’s been a lifelong goal of mine to get on the podium at the CrossFit Games, so I’m doing my best to enjoy and appreciate the fact that I’ve finally made it! The fact that I was so close to winning and becoming the “Fittest Man On Earth,” is now only fuel to the fire and gives me more confidence that I can achieve it in years to come!”
Ohlsen topped the leaderboard after Friday and Saturday night and wore the white leader jersey for most of the competition. The final two events took away Ohlsen’s lead and the grand prize when Fraser won those two workouts to Ohlsen’s fifth- and second-place finishes.
At the end of the weekend, Ohlsen ended up with a combined 949 points to Fraser’s 984 points. The two Americans took the first two podium spots and Iceland’s Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson took the third with 888 points.
The Games were different this year. The first event, aptly called First Cut, featured 150 men and 150 women, including one national winner from every country with a CrossFit affiliate.
Ohlsen said meeting all those athletes from around the world was his favorite part of the weekend. “Meeting so many cool people from all over the world before the competition began put me in such a positive place,” Ohlsen said.
“Being that it was the first time for many of them at Games and even in the United States, their gratitude filled me up and made me just as excited to be competing at my Sixth CrossFit Games as they were at their First!”
That first event had a 20-minute time cap where athletes had to complete four rounds. The rounds included a 400-meter run, 3 Legless Rope Climbs and 7 Snatches at 185-pounds for men and 130-pounds for women. A snatch is a highly technical barbell movement where you bring the bar from floor to overhead in one swift and powerful move.
Ohlsen placed 16th, one of only 44 men to finish the event. After that first event the field was cut to 75, then 50, 40, 30, 20 and the top 10 finished out the weekend on Sunday.
Before Ohlsen went to the Games, Ohlsen said he was “kind of excited to have these goals to celebrate at the end of each day. I think that’ll be something to feel good about at the end of the competition day.”
He had a lot to feel good about on Friday night when he had his biggest moment of his six-year Games trajectory, earning his first event win. Along with bragging rights, Noah earned the 100 points that go along with that distinction and a $3,000 bonus.
That event was called Mary, one of the “CrossFit Girls” benchmark workouts.
For Mary, athletes had to complete a 20-minute AMRAP(As Many Rounds(or Reps)As Possible) of five handstand push-ups, 10 alternating one-legged squats and 15 pull-ups. Ohlsen completed 22 rounds and 17 reps for a total of 677 reps.
“The coliseum at the Games was packed with thousands of passionate fans who were going nuts as Mat and I duked it out,” Ohlsen said. “When I pulled off a narrow win in the final minute, the crowd erupted. I walked toward them and felt as if I was being welcomed home by my people. I felt so much love and gratitude in that moment.”
His mentor, Guido Trinidad, was there encouraging Ohlsen and when the event finished the two hugged as if he had completed a dream for both of them.
“It’s fulfilling for sure to see the whole story,” said Trinidad. “A lot of times really successful people, you see them when they win. I’ve had the opportunity to be in his life when he didn’t know how to pick up a barbell. He was far from elite when he started. It wasn’t overnight. I have never met anyone who was so certain he was going to get so far from so far away.”
Trinidad is a CrossFit Games veteran himself, placing 29th in 2012 and seventh in the 35-39 age group in 2017. He is also the owner of Peak 360 Athletic Performance in South Miami, where Ohlsen trains and coaches.
Getting to the podium has been a dream for Ohlsen. He placed fourth in 2017. Even though he didn’t achieve his ultimate goal of winning the whole thing, Ohlsen leaves the Games with a $115,000 purse and the distinction of being the “Fittest in Miami.”
“I’m not going to let the fact that I did well change anything,” Ohlsen said.
“I’m sure there will be added pressure and expectation from external sources but I’m not going to let that change the way I play my game. I’m going to continue to work hard and have fun, enjoy what I do and bring the same me out onto the floor next year and every year after that.”
Ohlsen made such an impression that Miami Mayor Francis Suarez “offered me the key to the city, but I told him I’ll wait until I win it!”
He’ll have that opportunity soon enough as the 2020 CrossFit Games season starts in November with the CrossFit Filthy 150 in Dublin, Ireland. Registration for the worldwide Open begins in January, where hundreds of thousands participate in five weeks of workouts for a chance to compete in the Games.