L'Open 2023 has just ended and a new controversy has already come to the surface, after statements by five-time Games champion Mathew Fraser in an interview with Talking Elite Fitness.
When asked if his pupil Mallory O'Brien was the great candidate for the Fittest on Earth 2023 award, Since we won't have Tia Clair Toomey in the race, Mat gave a rather controversial answer.
According to him, Mal she wouldn't be happy competing without Tia at the CrossFit® Games. In fact, in his response, the American underlined: “One of the best parts of the competition is being able to compete against the best in the sport. You just want to win sure, but you want to win against the best of the best."
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La Mat's statement generated several reactions by athletes and sports enthusiasts. To many, he has seemed overbearing and arrogant in placing himself only Tia as difficulty for Mal to conquer the podium.
While for others, this fact proves that the American really wants to reach the top, beating the athlete with the most wins of all time.
It's undeniable the evolution of Mal and the desire to win that he has shown in recent years. Not having Tia compete together could cause a similar effect to what occurred in the men's category, with Fraser's retirement.
Mat Fraser and Mal O'Brien: Does history repeat itself?
As soon as it has left the competition, after his fifth victory, the way in the men's category was cleared for the contestants who wanted to win the title.
Conclusion? Justin Medeiros took the lead and he did it again last year.
However, if you remember Mat's last podium, we had Medeiros as 3rd place. Which makes us think that if the five-time champion had continued to compete, Justin most likely would not have had the slightest chance of winning the title.
According to us in the editorial team, Mat's statement can only be a fear that Mal has the same comparison: that she will only win because the true champion is out this season.
We care about underline also another aspect in all this: we are talking about athletes who train to overcome themselves, but also to overcome each other.
Go through life dissatisfied with not having beaten “the best athlete of all time”, it can be a very bad thing for mental health of an athlete, even if he is the defending champion.
After all, Haley Adams just declared that she was asking too much of herself and therefore ended up suffering the consequences.
A little further on, there was also Ricky Garard who directly asked Mat not to retire and to await his return from doping suspension (remember?).
Well the truth is that for many athletes the easy way out is not the ideal way out. We're talking professionals who always work to outdo the best, so when that figure disappears, it can be really frustrating.
Who knows ...Maybe with Tia still in the race, Mal wouldn't get on the first step, but for his spirit as an athlete it would (perhaps) have been a more exciting race.
After all, while there are other big names in the women's field, the greatest athlete of all time will not be there this year.