Week 2 of the CrossFit Games 2022 Semifinals didn’t let us down. We watched all of the competitors empty their tanks on the competition floor. And at the end of the weekend, Saxon Panchik and Danielle Brandon dominated at the MidAtlantic CrossFit Challenge, while Kealan Henry and Michelle Merand took first at Fittest in Cape Town.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The WOD Life (@thewodlife)

Week 3 of Semifinals: 8 Competitors We’re Watching

What might Week 3 have in store? On the agenda, we have the Far East Throwdown and the Granite Games. Here’s who we’ll be watching a little extra closely.

Far East Throwdown

1. Roman Khrennikov

Khrennikov is no stranger to competition. His Open journey started in 2017, this is his second time advancing to Semifinals, and he made it to the Games in 2020, ultimately finishing 13th. With a 2:45 Fran time and a massive 485lb back squat, Khrennikov promises to do big things this weekend.

After all, we’re talking about a guy who adds weight to his weight because it wasn’t heavy enough already.

2. Hamzeh Tarefi

Tarefi takes competition seriously. Since first entering the Open in 2017, he’s steadily climbed the leaderboard every year, finishing 34th in 2022. 2021 Semifinals saw him land in 7th place, and if his track record is any indication, we know he’ll show up this weekend looking for a win.

With a back squat clocking in at just over 400lbs (185kg) and the speed to match, we’re expecting an inspiring performance from this guy during the weekend’s events.

3. Seungyeon Choi

At 23 years old, Choi will be one of the younger competitors, but don’t think that’s going to stop her. She already had one Games appearance — last year — finishing in 34th. And she ranked 2nd at last year’s Semifinals competition.

From rowing and legless rope climbs to muscle-ups and heavy yoke carries, Choi can do it all and then some. And, come on — just look at these lifts.

4. Shahad Budebs

Once Budebs got that first taste of competition during the Open in 2017, nothing could stop her, and the leaderboard every year since then proves it. She’s been to the Games twice — once as an individual and once on a team. And this year, she’s coming back solo. Having already nabbed the title of one of the Fittest Emirati women in 2019, 2020, and 2021, we trust that this weekend will be no different.

Budebs isn’t just strong. She’s not just fast. She’s efficient and strategic. Just watch the way she moves.

Granite Games

1. Brent Fikowski

31-year-old Fikowski knows a thing or two about CrossFit. His first Open was in 2013, and he’s got six Games appearances under his belt, including a 2nd- and 3rd-place finish. With a 7:08 Helen time and a 300lb snatch, Fikowski has more than demonstrated his versatility as a competitor. Plus, he’s got the experience to match. We think this might be the year he finds himself on the podium once again.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Brent Fikowski (@fikowski)

2. Chandler Smith

Seven years in the Open, with a recent 20th-place finish. Three Games appearances, with a 6th-place finish at his best. A 615lb deadlift, 85 max pull-ups, a Fran time of 2:03. He’s one of those athletes you watch and just go, “…How?” In a sport where you need to be able to do it all, Smith has shown he’s up for the challenge.

He finished 21st at last year’s Games. You can bet he’s hungry.

3. Amanda Barnhart

This isn’t her first rodeo. Barnhart has been competing in the Open since 2014, with her best finish in 9th place. She’s also got four Games appearances under her belt, with two 7th-place finishes. Barnhart is kind of like Brooke Wells in that she always comes this close — which could mean that 2022 is finally going to be her year.

Barnhart is strong, with a 200lb snatch. She’s fast, with a 2:15 time on Fran. And perhaps above all else, she has consistency and dedication. This has been years in the making.

4. Mallory O’Brien

What is there to say about O’Brien? Oh, that’s right — plenty. At just 18 years old, she’s already competed in the Open four times, placing 2nd, 4th, 2nd, and 1st in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively. But here’s where it gets even better. She’s been to the Games three times, twice as a teen in the Girls 14-15 division and in 2021 (when she was named Rookie of the Year), with the women. As a teen, she placed 4th and 5th in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Joining the big dogs, you would’ve expected a big drop in the leaderboard — but she still pulled off a 7th-place finish.

O’Brien’s name is quickly joining the ranks of athletes like Toomey and Fraser, where people merely watch, shake their heads, and ask, “How did she just do that?”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Mal O’Brien (@malobrien_)

The 2022 competitive season is somehow even better than the last, and we’ve got some very promising athletes gearing up to leave it all out on the floor this weekend. Good luck to all of the competitors! Want to watch the events unfold? Catch the live stream on CrossFit’s YouTube page so that you don’t miss any of the action.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Featured image: Brent Fikowski/Instagram