The 2023 CrossFit Games are upon us…and what a wonderful time of year it is!
We get to see a ton of world-class athletes put their skills to the test and their abilities on display. We also get to witness a gathering of the world’s nations in the culmination of “A Global Celebration of Fitness”.
Now about those participating nations…
We all know that CrossFit isn’t the cheapest sport to participate in, whether as an athlete, coach, or gym owner. As such, we might expect to see greater levels of participation (and as a by-product of that, more athletes at the highest levels) in more affluent countries.
Instead of “expecting to see” this with some level of uncertainty, we decided to put this theory to the test. Today, on the eve of the 2023 CrossFit Games, we’re ready to share our findings with you (and with the world!)
Table of Contents
The “tldr” of our methods included reviewing the official 2023 CrossFit Games rosters across all divisions (as of July 24, 2023) and tallying data about all of the included athletes. For each nation represented at the Games, information regarding the following items were collected:
- country’s total population
- total number of country’s Games athletes
- per-capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of each country
Next, we calculated
- the number of Games athletes in each nation relative to their country’s total population
- the percentage of each nation’s Games athletes who are associated with a CrossFit affiliate
- the personal GDP of each nation’s athletes relative to the average of every 2023 CrossFit Games athletes’ personal GDP
We will cover each of these areas in greater detail at the end of the article as well as more direct comparisons between the participating countries. For now, let’s check out the nation profiles!
2023 CrossFit Games Participating Nation Profiles
As you might expect, Buenos Aires is the place for CrossFit in Argentina. WTC CrossFit’s Alexia Williams proved that the “third time’s the charm!” after qualifying for the 2023 CrossFit Games after finishing second at the South America Semifinal. Across town, the Q21 CrossFit team will make its second appearance in Madison, its first coming back in 2021.
Although Argentina doesn’t have the highest ratio of CrossFit Games athletes relative to its population, one could argue that it does pretty well, given it’s per capita GDP at just 21.7 percent of the average CrossFit Games athlete.
For the first time in seemingly forever, CrossFit Games GOAT Tia-Clair Toomey will not be competing for the title of Fittest on Earth. However, as one would expect from one of the pedigree CrossFit countries (per capita GDP only 2.6 off from the average CrossFit Games athlete!), the situation is more or less “next (wo)man up!”
Ellie Turner has burst onto the CrossFit scene in recent years and, after winning the Oceania Semifinal, has positioned herself to be a perennial favorite in the region (although she pairs up with boyfriend Justin Medeiros for training at CrossFit Fort Vancouver). Tamworth’s Jake Douglas has broken through; the “Hulk” of CrossFit qualifying for the Games with a third place finish in semifinals. Meanwhile, the CrossFit Torian Mayhem team is a serious podium contender after a fifth place finish in the CrossFit Open.
If you were paying attention to the Europe Semifinal, there is no way you could have missed Jelle Hoste’s blazing snatch and 800-meter run. Fighting out of CrossFit Kortrijk in Harelbeke, Hoste will be looking to propel himself from his fourth-place semifinal finish to a high final ranking in his first CrossFit Games appearance.
Meanwhile, Magnon Angonese will also be making her first appearance at the Games, although she is no stranger to high-level competition. Over the last few years, Angonese has competed in multiple semifinal events, the Rogue Invitational, Dubai Fitness Championship, and the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships!
With an incredibly large population, it should come as no surprise that Brazil clocks in with the fifth most qualified athletes to the 2023 CrossFit Games. The athlete-to-population ratio and per capita GDP aren’t the best indicators, but seeing some of the Brazilian athletes in action…their significant presence in Madison should come as no surprise.
Anyone who watched the South American Semifinal is probably familiar with Andréia Pinheiro (or, maybe more specifically, Pinheiro’s unreal abs). After finishing fourth in the semifinal, she won the 40-44 Age Group Semifinal and will represent Brazil and CrossFit Lago Sul at the Games.
After winning his second-ever semifinal, Patrick Vellner will try to stand atop of the CrossFit Games podium. With experience from 8 Games’ appearances, the Nanimo, BC native may have his best chance ever to win it all.
Richmond’s Emily Rolfe will try to make the CrossFit Sea Level crowd proud as she mounts her comeback after having to withdraw after the first event in the 2022 Games. Kitchener’s CrossFit PSC Invasion team will try to make a run in Madison.
At a slightly lower per capita GDP than the average CrossFit Games athlete, Canada nevertheless shows up at the highest level of competition. Its 28 athletes are second only to the United States.
Felipe Maturana Infante, Chile’s lone CrossFit Games representative, is returning to Madison for the second time in three years. Hailing from Santiago, Maturana Infante is trying to best his fourth-place finish in 2021 by making it to the podium of the Lower Extremity division.
Simply making it to the Games is quite the accomplishment for Maturana Infante (especially considering that this will be his second time competing in Madison), considering that in Chile, only one in 19,629,590 people is a CrossFit Games athlete. Maturana Infante has worked hard enough to be that one.
Who would have thought that the world’s most populous country would have a CrossFit Games athlete?
(I mean, I did, but you do you!)
Ant Haynes will be making his second appearance at the CrossFit Games after finishing third in the Asia Semifinal. Haynes owns and trains out of the Coastal Fitness Center and is looking to advance further than he did in the 2019 edition of the CrossFit Games.
With the country’s per capita GDP of just 23.3 percent of the average CrossFit Games athlete, the average “Tico” has to do a lot more with a lot less.
Apparently, Age Group division athletes Chico Quesada (40-44) and Jose Pablo Luna (14-15) didn’t get the message! Both will be looking to stand atop their respective groups’ podiums at the end of the festivities.
Concepción’s Quesada will try to make a splash after participating in the Age Group Quarterfinals and Semifinals the last two years. He also competed in the most recent edition of Wodapalooza. Luna is simply proving that “the first time is the charm”, qualifying for the Games on his first attempt at the CrossFit Open!
After a few promising years in the CrossFit “game”, CrossFit Plzeň’s Veronika Voříšková will be making her first appearance in Madison. Voříšková will be competing in the 16-17 Age Group category and with higher finishes in each succeeding competition (55th in her category in the CrossFit Open, 18th in the Age Group Quarterfinal, 9th in the Age Group Semifinal), she appears to be “gaining steam for the Games!
Czechia has a per capita GDP that is roughly half of the average CrossFit Games athlete’s and with only one representative at the 2023 CrossFit Games, its Games athletes-to-population is quite low. Thankfully, the young, “rising talent” in the country bodes well for the future.
Although Denmark does not have the absolute ratios like some of its other Scandinavian brethren, it holds up pretty well. The Danes actually outpace the United States in the CrossFit Games athletes-to-population ratio and its per capita GDP is 8.8 percent higher than the average CrossFit Games athlete’s.
The legendary No Shortcuts CrossFit affiliate has assembled quite a “dream team” this year and, after winning the Europe Semifinal, will look to finish atop the team podium in Madison. Meanwhile, CrossFit Hobro’s Kasper Myrup squeaked through the 40-44 year-old Age Group Semifinal to secure his first Games appearance in 2023.
Although the per capita income in Finland is slightly below that of the average CrossFit Games athlete, in true Scandinavian fashion, the Finns outperform in the Games Athletes-to-population ratio. All of its CrossFit Games athletes have experience in Madison and it wouldn’t be far-fetched to see multiple podium appearances from Finland.
Merituuli Kallio will look to best her 2022 second-place finish in the 40-44 year-old category while CrossFit 10K’s Jonne Koski goes for appearance number 9 at the Games. CrossFit Basement’s Henrik Haapalainen turned in a surprise runner-up finish at the Europe Semifinal and the CrossFit Portti is making its third straight appearance.
France is in a very similar position as the UK is regarding its CrossFit Games athlete and greater profiles. With similar populations, Games athletes-to-population ratios, per capita GDPs, and number of qualified athletes, the two countries are truly mirror images. Also, like the British, there are no individual athletes competing in Madison under the French flag in 2023.
The 35-39 age group categories will be where the French athletes will try to make their mark with CrossFit Caen’s Julien Lopez and CrossFit La Ciotat’s Laurie Clément both making their first appearances. They will be supported by a host of other age group and adaptive athletes across a number of different divisions.
Who would have expected that Germany would only have one representative at the 2023 CrossFit Games? What the Germans lack in numbers, they make up for in quality. Hamburg’s Moritz Fiebig looked like a man possessed in the Europe Semifinal (where he finished third). The CrossFit Sankt Pauli owner returns to the Games for the second year in a row.
Surprisingly, any German athlete making it to the Games will, on average, have a lower GDP than other CrossFit Games athletes. As it is, one can’t deny the presence and accessibility of the sport in the country that hosted the Europe Semifinal in 2023!
Although Greece’s per capita GDP is only 35.7 percent of the average CrossFit Games athlete’s, one would think that there would be more participants from the sacred home of Mt. Olympus. As it is, Athens’ Ioannis Papadopoulos will look to build on his 5th-place finish in the Games’ 35-39 Age Group division last year, setting his sights on a podium finish in 2023.
It will be difficult to find too many athletes in the division who are bigger and stronger than Papadopoulos. Making his hometown, The Core Force CrossFit crowd proud, Papadopoulos snatched 155 kilograms (~342 pounds) at the 2023 Athens Throwdown competition. Heck, how many people can snatch that much in pounds?!
Guatemala’s pride and joy, María Granizo proves that one doesn’t need to hail from a high GDP country to be a very successful CrossFit athlete! After a 20th-place finish in the 2022 14-15 year-old Age Group Semifinal, Granzio won the 2023 edition of the event. This finish followed up her first place finishes in the 14-15 year-old Open and Age Group Quarterfinal competitions.
Currently training out of Artabros CrossFit in Coruña, Spain, Granzio should be the favorite to stand atop the podium for her age group in Madison!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ve probably heard about Laura Horvath before.
The perennial CrossFit Games podium finisher is setting her sights on winning the title of “Fittest on Earth” at the 2023 edition of the event. The Budapest native is as comfortable training at the city’s CrossFit Glasshouse affiliate as she is at CrossFit Krypton in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Meanwhile, Mira Varga will be making her first appearance at the CrossFit Games after finishing 6th in the world in the 14-15 year-old Age Group Semifinal competition. Could she be the next Hungarian CrossFit sensation in the making?
The land of “sons and dottirs” should be very familiar to anyone who has followed the sport over the last…decade. Although not the most affluent nation on this list, the per capita GDP on the island is, nevertheless, 19 percent higher than the average CrossFit Games athlete’s and, at 1 Games athlete per 93,830 people, Iceland has by far the best ratio on this list.
A theme with Iceland this year could be something along the lines of “as much as things change…they stay the same”. Annie Thorisdottir and Björgvin K. Guðmundsson are going for their 13th and 10th CrossFit Games appearances, respectfully with both previous podium finishers in contention once again. CrossFit Reykjavík’s Bergrós Björnsdóttir is looking to make a splash in the 16-17 year-old category while Breki Þórðarson will contend for the Upper Extremity crown.
Don’t sleep on Asia or, more specifically, the Middle East.
Tehran’s Morteza Sedaghat has improved his worldwide ranking in the CrossFit Open every year, claiming 61st place in 2023. What’s more, in just two years he has gone from finishing 18th in the Last Chance Qualifier to second in the Asia Semifinal.
CrossFit isn’t a cheap sport and it really shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that there are no CrossFit affiliates in Iran where the average per-capita GDP is only 6.7 percent of the average CrossFit Games athlete. However, Sedaghat seems less concerned with these numbers and more focused on his weightlifting total!
Ireland is quite the enigma.
It is surprising that they only have two CrossFit Games athletes in 2023. With the highest per capita GDP of any country on Earth (by the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) calculations), the country certainly has the resources to support a CrossFit “habit”! Interestingly enough, both athletes live in and train at gyms in the United Kingdom.
As it is, you get a lot of bang for your buck with the Irish duo. Emma McQuaid is a perennial contender in Madison, making her fifth appearance in 2023. She will attempt to make the Crooked Lake CrossFit crowd proud. Meanwhile, CrossFit Resplendent’s reigning 14-15 Age Group champion Lucy McGonigle will attempt to win the 16-17 division in Madison in 2023.
Elisa Fuliano is back in Madison for the second straight time. After a gritty showing in the Europe Semifinal, the Torino resident and CrossFit Altessano member will try to advance to the final day of competition in 2023. The Eternal City’s Andrea Di Salvatore will try to make the CrossFit Parioli crowd happy in his first appearance at the Games (45-49 Age Group), while CrossFit Avellino’s Antonio Silvestro is throwing his hat in the ring for the first time after finishing fourth in the world in the Upper Extremity Open.
Italy’s per capita GDP is only slightly higher than half of the average CrossFit Games athlete’s. However, a country with such a long and storied athletic tradition is bound to start sending a greater contingent of athletes to the Games moving forward.
Latvia’s 6-time fittest man, Uldis Upeniks, is probably best known for having to take a bike to get to the 2022 Europe Semifinal competition when no Ubers would pick him up! To be fair, Upeniks is also known for his 6-place finish in the 2023 Europe Semifinal and 23rd place worldwide in the 2023 CrossFit Open.
Upeniks used the recent Malta Throwdown as a “warm-up” for the games (winning easily). Best of all, anyone who has watched some of Upeniks’ workout submissions knows he is the definition of a garage gym athlete…just look at that beautiful door!
For two year’s running, Samer Zaarour has finished on the podium in the 40-44 year-old Age Group semifinal (2nd in 2022, 1st in 2023). These outstanding finishes go to show that even those hailing from less affluent countries (Lebanon’s per-capita GDP is only 5.7 percent of the average CrossFit Games athlete) can turn in some outstanding athletic performances.
Unfortunately, actually getting to the Games can be a challenge for athletes from less affluent areas. Although the hour may be late, there is a chance that Zaarour may procure the funds necessary to make the trip to Madison. Care to help him out?
For a country where the per capita income is only 44.4 percent of the average CrossFit Games athlete’s, it is not surprising that Gintas Petrikas is the sole representative. That being said, the nation’s capital, Vilnius, Petrikas’ home affiliate, CrossFit Laisvė, and Lithuania as a whole have some high-level athletes. In the coming years, it should come as no surprise if more Lithuanian athletes make it to Madison.
In the meantime, Petrikas’ steady improvement over the years (first making the Age Group Quarterfinals in 2021, Semifinals in 2022, Games in 2023) should translate to a high finish in his first CrossFit Games appearance.
The pride and joy of Chihuahua, México, all of the nation’s hopes are riding on Maricruz Prieto in 2023.
Honestly, they could do worse…much worse.
The 2023 CrossFit Games will be Prieto’s fourth appearance in Madison and first in the 55-59 year-old Age Group category. What’s more impressive? Prieto has competed in all but one edition of the Age Group Quarterfinals between 2016-2023 (she did not participate in the CrossFit Open in 2022). How many people does it take to find one with that much high-level competition experience? Apparently, only 1 in 1,128,455,567….Mexico’s CrossFit Games athlete-to-population ratio!
For a country as affluent and health/sports-obsessed as Holland, it is surprising to see only one of their athletes on the 2023 CrossFit Games roster. What isn’t surprising is that the representative is CrossFit Vondelgym South’s Belinda Bekker.
Although 2023 will be Bekker’s first year in Madison, her competition resume reads like a highlight reel. Individual, Team, and Age Group quarterfinal appearances. Team and Age Group semifinal appearances and even a 2017 CrossFit Regional appearance thrown in for good measure! With credentials like that, I doubt Bekker will fail to make the hometown Amsterdam crowd proud.
Oftentimes overshadowed by its larger and less isolated partner in crime, New Zealand, nevertheless, outpaces Australia almost 2-1 in its ratio of CrossFit Games athletes to population. The average GDP isn’t quite as high, either, but that doesn’t stop all of the Kiwi Games athletes from associating themselves with a CrossFit affiliate.
Previous CrossFit Games podium finisher Jamie Simmonds leads the way here. She will try to rebound in 2023 after failing to qualify for the 2022 Games. CrossFit Selwyn’s Bayley Martin will come from the South Island to Madison for the first time since he participated in the 16-17 Age Group back in 2017. ChristChurch’s Plus64 CrossFit team burst onto the scene in 2023, finishing second at the Oceania Semifinal and securing a Games invite for the first time.
Norway, man….NORWAY! CrossFit may have been “born” in America and the United States may have (by far) the most CrossFit Games athletes, but the argument could be made that Norway is the CrossFit country.
Consider a few things:
- Norway’s per capita GDP is 60 percent higher than the average CrossFit Games athlete’Norways per capita GDP is 60 percent higher than the average CrossFit Games athlete
- Norway has the second highest Games athlete-to-population ratio (if you happen to be Norwegian, you automatically have a 1 in 288,124 chance of being a CrossFit Games athlete!)
- Norway has the fourth most CrossFit Games athletes competing in Madison in 2023
- Norway has the second most teams (four!) qualified for Games in 2023
Matilde Garnes is the individual flag carrier for Norway this year, although her CrossFit Oslo brethren have three teams competing at the Games (not to mention Turkey’s Seher Kaya who is also a member…could CrossFit Oslo have the most Games athletes of any gym on earth?) CrossFit Trondheim’s team is also one to be watched.
What Poland lacks in per capita GDP relative to the average CrossFit Games athlete and in its overall ratio of Games athletes relative to its population, it makes up for sheer quality. An extremely “top-heavy” contingent includes 3 individual athletes and one of the more accomplished athletes in the sport.
Everyone knows the name Gabi Migala at this point. After winning the Europe Semifinal, Migala will try to take things to the next level in her 6th CrossFit Games appearance. Up north, the CrossFit Strong House contingent of Bronisław Olenkowicz and Michał Wesołowski will be making their second and debut appearances in Madison, respectively. Meanwhile, down south in Katowice, CrossFit Silesia’s Artur Komorowski will be making his 3rd overall appearance and his first in the 50-54 Age Group.
After a number of Age Group Quarterfinals and Semifinals appearances, Lisbon’s Bruno Militão will be making his first CrossFit Games appearance. The owner of CrossFit Alvalade IV, Militão is Portugal’s sole Games representative. Hailing from a country where the per-capita GDP is only 41.1 percent of the average CrossFit Games athlete, his accomplishments are that much more impressive.
EA (Endurance Almaty) CrossFit’s Artur Semenov may not be the most famous Russian CrossFit athlete (although he probably is in his home in Kazakhstan!) However, he is the only Russian Games athlete to win his semifinal this year (Asia). The more popular Roman Khrennikov (who we are including as a Russian representative on this list) finished fourth at the North America East Semifinal.
Obviously a more difficult year for Russian athletes, nonetheless, four will be present in Madison. With a lower-than-average percentage of athletes associated with affiliates and a per-capita GDP much lower than the average CrossFit Games athlete, we’ll see if another podium finish is in the cards for the Russian Bear in 2023.
What Serbia lacks in total numbers, it more than makes up for in its quality of top-level athletes.
Perennial CrossFit Games athlete and the winner of the 2023 Europe Semifinal Lazar Đukić is Serbia’s lone representative in Madison. Training out of Nero CrossFit (although he is the pride of Novi Sad!), Lazar will not be joined for the second year in a row by his brother Luka who was unable to finish the Europe Semifinal due to illness.
Serb CrossFit Games athletes in any year are definitely punching above their weight in regards to per-capita GDP (17.1 percent of the average CrossFit Games athlete). Their response?
No stranger to the CrossFit Games, Karin Freyová (Kara Fray) will be making her fourth appearance in Madison this year. Hailing from Bratislava’s powerhouse Alpha Prime CrossFit, Fray turned in a strong fifth-place showing at the Europe Semifinal and will look to propel herself to a podium finish at the Games.
Meanwhile, CrossFit Destiny’s František Heribán will soon have the rare distinction of competing in two different CrossFit Games Age Group divisions (35-39 in 2021, 40-44 in 2023). Making the rounds of the European CrossFit circuit (most recently winning the European Masters Throwdown), the Brno resident will notice a slight increase in the level of competition in the coming days!
The winners of the Africa Semifinal, Michelle Basnett and Jason Smith, are no strangers to the CrossFit Games. Basnett will be making her second appearance (first appearance in 2021), while Smith will be returning for the fourth time (2017, 2019, 2021).
These athletes are beating conventional wisdom in the fact that South Africa’s per-capita is only xxx of the average Games’ athlete. Also, Smith, at 39 years of age, is almost old enough to compete in the second-level of Age Group categories!
South Africa also has a team in the mix, with Cape Town’s appropriately-named Cape CrossFit making its 3rd Games Appearance.
Dongtan’s CrossFit Marvel squad is making its first appearance at the CrossFit Games. Only being bested by the UAE’s super team in the Asian Team Open and Semifinal competitions, the sky is truly the limit for this superhero-themed group.
With a somewhat low per capita GDP relative to the average CrossFit Games athlete, South Korea’s 1: 12,946,015 Games athlete-to-population ratio should come as no surprise. However, as the quality of athlete and competitor continues to grow on the continent, expect big things out of South Korea in the near future!
Spain is one of those countries that seems to have a lot of athletes right on the cusp of CrossFit Games qualification. To be honest, the Spaniards are doing pretty well for themselves, considering that the per capita GDP is just under half of that of the typical CrossFit Games athlete.
…and if you happen to be a Spaniard, you have roughly a one in six million chance of being a CrossFit Games athlete!
CrossFit Zarautz’s Fabian Beneito has finally broken through, qualifying for the Games after his fourth semifinal appearance. Elia del Olmo is also making her first appearance (16-17 Age Group) after advancing as far as the Age Group Semifinals last year. Madrid native David Usandizaga will attempt to make the CrossFit Bellum crowd proud as he returns to Madison for the second straight year. He’ll once again compete in the 55-59 Age Group.
With a healthy ratio of Games athletes-to-population and a per capita GDP just below the average Games Athlete’s, Sweden is about as “prototypical CrossFit” of a country as one could get. The large and mixed contingent of individual, age group, and team athletes competing in Madison is a testament to this.
The Europe Semifinal was quite the show with Ella Wunger putting in a gritty, “workhorse” performance to take 8th place in the event, securing her first trip to the Games in the process. Rebecka Vitesson wowed the crowd with her positive energy and radiant smile, securing her first individual invite to the CrossFit Games (3rd overall). Gävle’s CrossFit Prestanda (check out that 4AM opening time!) and Västerås’ CrossFit Walleye will each be making their first Games appearances after placing 6th and 3rd respectively in the Europe Semifinal.
Seher Kaya returns to the CrossFit Games for the second year in a row as Turkey’s sole representative. The winner of the Asia Semifinal (and also on the ninth-place finishing team in the Europe Semifinal), Kaya lives in Norway, currently training out of CrossFit Oslo.
It’s not surprising that in a country where the average per-capita GDP is only 18.6 percent of the average CrossFitter who is competing at the Games, there is a 1:85,816,199 Games athlete-to-population ratio. However, Kaya’s 83rd place finish seriously bucks the trend that the elite of the sport only originates from the wealthiest countries on Earth.
Is there a CrossFit athlete who is accomplished across as many sports as Shahad Budebs? Ready to make her third overall CrossFit Games appearance (second as an individual) Budebs excels at track and field events and has also scored an international goal for her country’s national soccer team. She will look to make her hometown Dubai proud, following up on her second-place finish in the Asia Semifinal.
Across town, the CrossFit Fly High team has burst onto the scene, coming first in Asia in the Team Open, Quarterfinal, and Semifinal competitions. We shall see if it can continue this level of success in Madison.
Given the relative wealth of the country as well as the large population, it is surprising that there are no British individual athletes competing this year. However, as long as the 2013 “Fittest Women on Earth” is still kicking, you can bet that the United Kingdom will be very well represented at the CrossFit Games. Actually, training out of CrossFit Cornerstone in West Chester, Ohio, Samantha Briggs has to be the hands-down favorite in the 40-44-year-old category.
The UK is chock-full of age group athletes this year, with Manchester’s Steven Fawcett competing for the 35-39-year-old crown (I would not want to have to compete against that guy!) while CrossFit Warminster’s Karen Dawkins is one of only two non-Americans competing for the title of “Fittest 65+ Woman on Earth”.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the “sacred home” of CrossFit produces the lion’s share of CrossFit Games athletes. This, combined with the fact that the average person in the United States actually has a higher personal GDP than the average CrossFit Games athlete does makes it the environment to produce top-level competitors.
As expected, with such a large population, attaining any type of high ranking in relation to ratios is especially difficult. Regardless, at a 1:1,491,213 Games athlete-to-population ratio, the U.S. still cracks the top 10 in this elusive category.
Justin Medeiros will try to make it three-straight as the Men’s champion, but some less-known athletes will also be making repeat appearances. Tarheel CrossFit’s Christina Mazzullo was the Upper Extremity division’s runner-up last year, while CrossFit Bridgewater’s Page Lockhart will be making her sixth CrossFit Games appearance!
Montevideo’s Mijail Pedrini is no stranger to the CrossFit Games or to overcoming adversity. As a top performer in the Multi-Extremity division, Pedrini will try to stand on the podium at the 2023 Games after coming up just short (fourth) in 2021.
As the sole representative from Uruguay, Pedrini represents the one in 3,423,109 from his country who can call himself a “CrossFit Games” athlete this year.
Now that we’ve explored each of the participating nation’s profiles (while getting some additional information about each’s top athletes) let’s look at how they stack up against each other.
Most Athletes (Overall)
As expected, the United States runs away with this one.
I mean, it’s not even close.
With a huge, wealthy, and, most importantly, interested population, there is a reason why the CrossFit Games competition will likely remain in the U.S. for years to come. Norway is a big surprise coming in in the fourth position here, but having four teams competing really helps them to up their numbers.
Brazil is the sleeping giant.
Most Athletes (Per Capita)
NOTE: Costa Rica SHOULD NOT be in the 10th position, please disregard their inclusion here!
Anyone who has followed CrossFit for any amount of time should not bat an eye at this top 10. If anything, Iceland’s ratio seems a bit higher than normal with Sólveig Sigurðardóttir, Thuri Helgadottir, and Sara Sigmundsdóttir out of the competition this year (and Katrín Davíðsdóttir competing under the American flag this year).
As expected, this list is comprised of some of the most affluent countries in the world and is largely populated by three regions: Scandinavia, Oceania, and North America (sans Mexico). Ironically, these regions are all pretty well-spaced out from each other, making one wonder how the CrossFit “fever” has caught on in these geographically separated regions!
Highest Per-Capita GDP in USD (Overall World Ranking in Parentheses)
As expected, the most affluent countries represented at the CrossFit Games are almost mirror images of the most affluent countries on Earth. The expensive sport that CrossFit is is much more accessible to those with higher personal incomes.
Maybe one day we’ll secure data on the average costs of CrossFit affiliate membership fees and average costs to set up and run a CrossFit gym…but I’m sure these numbers will be high, confirming our hypothesis here.
Lowest Per-Capita GDP in USD (Overall World Ranking in Parentheses)
As interesting as these numbers are, one important fact to take into consideration is that Lebanon, the participating nation in the CrossFit Games with the lowest per-capita GDP, doesn’t even fall into the bottom 1/3 of all countries on Earth in this category.
China, the 10th lowest, literally straddles the line between the top 1/3 and middle 1/3 of all countries in per-capita GDP.
It is incredibly fascinating to think that the least affluent countries of the CrossFit “world” are all located within the middle tier of the world’s per-capita GDP rankings.
To be honest, any other rankings-related lists we could come up with from this study’s data are either pretty boring (percentage of athletes associated with affiliates) or irrelevant in a larger context (the least athletes per capita doesn’t account for the 1:∞ ratio of Games athletes-to-population of every country who is not sending an athlete to the CrossFit Games…a much higher ratio than any participating country!)
If you happen to be interested in a particular statistic related to the data used here, please let me know and I’ll try to calculate something for you!
Longer Methodology and Sources
- Total Population taken from here
- Total Games athletes taken from here
- Athletes per capita = A country’s total population divided by the number of Games athletes in the same country.
- Per-Capita GDP taken from here (the most recent year available sourced from the International Monetary Fund (IMF))
- Percentage in an Affiliate data taken from here. Total number of Games athletes associated with an affiliate in each country divided by total number of Games athletes in the same country
- GDP percentage of Average Athlete = multiply the number of Games athletes in each country by the same country’s per-capita GDP. Add each country’s total together and divide by the total number of Games athletes. The average ($63,288)= the “average per capita GDP of CrossFit Games athletes. Divide each country’s per-capita GDP by $63,288 to find its percentage relative to the average.
Less Stats, More Burpees!
To be honest, I actually prefer crunching numbers like these more than I enjoy doing burpees or even something fun like Murph!
Yeah, I’m a nerd (or just lazy!)
Even if you’d prefer to get off the couch and get moving, I hope that these statistics represent something new and different about CrossFit you hadn’t come across before, namely, how significant the relationship is between “wealth” and high-level participation.
It will be interesting to see if CrossFit ever decides to follow through with its expressed desire to make “fitness work for everyone” (besides simply inviting the entire world to the Games, like it did in 2019) by making it more accessible to those in less affluent countries. As it is, India is the only prioritized country on CrossFit’s current expansion list that has a lower per-capita GDP than any of the nations represented in the 2023 Games.