Top 5 Contenders for the Men’s Podium in Cape Town

Date Published: Jan 25, 2019
By Brian Friend.

Fittest in Cape Town is the 4th Sanctioned event of this season. Like those that have come before it, there is an invitation to the 2019 CrossFit Games awaiting the man, woman, and team, who can come out on top of the field in South Africa.

Fittest in Cape Town began in 2011 and has been growing and evolving ever since. In the past, a majority of the competitors have been from South Africa. This year, however, with a little more on the line, athletes from around the world will be showing up. These are 5 men worth keeping an eye on over the course of the weekend:

Cole Sager:

Back in November it was announced that Cole would be competing at this competition. The new format provides a unique challenge to the elite men from the United States. Since Mat Fraser seems to be basically unbeatable, they have to find a way to get to the Games other than by being the national champion in this year’s Open. That leaves two options, finish top 20 worldwide in the Open, or win a Sanctional™ event. Seeing as Cole has never finished better than 28th in the Open, he did that in 2015, it seems he’s decided winning a Sanctional is his most likely route to the Games this year. Make no doubt about it, Cole has been training to win this thing, and that’s exactly what he’ll be showing up in Cape Town to do. He was 7th last year at the CrossFit Games, and is rightfully in the conversation as a favorite to win, but he certainly isn’t the only one who might do so.

Photo courtesy of: CrossFit Games

Jason Smith:

Fittest in Cape Town’s champion from 2016, Jason Smith is the most recognizable South African name in the global CrossFit space. He’s been the fittest man in South Africa the last four years, and in 2017, after years of being agonizingly close to qualifying, he finally made it to the CrossFit Games. He went on to finish 10th that year, a remarkably impressive performance for any rookie at the Games. Last year he had a set back just prior to Regionals with an ankle injury, and then struggled with the bench press on Linda. But typically when athletes who have been to the Games before fail to make it in a subsequent year, they then follow it up with a very strong season after that. Jason has the hometown advantage of crow support and no travel. He’s as likely to win this competition as any man in the field.

Photo courtesy of:Dubai CrossFit Championship

Streat Hoerner:

Another Games athlete from 2017, Streat wasn’t far behind Jason when he finished 14th overall in the men’s field that year. He was tremendous in the Open last year, 7th worldwide, but then also finished 7th in the difficult Central Regional and missed out on the 2018 Games. Streat has been busy with lots of competitions since then; he’s been doing pretty well in them, too. He took 2nd place at the Granite Games last September, finishing only 3 points behind Travis Mayer. He finished 6th overall at the Dubai CrossFit Championship in a very deep and talented men’s field. And, he was the top online qualifier for this competition. Streat is in that group of top American men who need to find a way to get to the Games. You can be sure he’s got his eyes set on this one and will show up believing he can win it.


Photo courtesy of: CrossFit Games

James Newbury:

James has been to the CrossFit Games each of the last three years, but he’s never finished as well there as some of the other men highlighted here. He is also doing back to back competitions, as he is competing for the Australia CrossFit Championship the week before. Nevertheless, this guy is seriously fit and has been known to do well in water events, which Cape Town historically has always had. He’s a very well-rounded athlete, and if events break well for him in South Africa do not be surprised if he’s on the podium come the end of the weekend.


Photo courtesy of: CrossFit Games

Tim Paulson:

Tim took a step back at the Games this past year. He was 19th in 2017, but dropped to 29th in 2018. However, his Regional performances these past two seasons have been very impressive, and are the reason Paulson is a man to be very aware of in Cape Town. Two years ago, both Fraser and Vellner were in the East Region, Tim took third, but he was only 30 points behind Vellner, and 80 points clear of 4th place Cody Mooney. Last year, with Fraser relocating to the Central Regional, Vellner dominated the East. Paulson didn’t waiver either though, he took second place and looked comfortably like the second fittest man on the floor that weekend. These sanctioned events seem like they’ll typically have 6-10 workouts, reminiscent of a Regional format, and all signs from recent years suggest that is a good thing for Tim Paulson.


Photo courtesy of: CrossFit Games

Dark Horse Pick: Alan Foulis

Perhaps it’s strange to have the defending champion as the Dark Horse pick, but with an invite to the Games on the line the field is a bit deeper this year. Alan Foulis, however, has plenty of experience and will fight with all he has to defend his title at Fittest in Cape Town. In addition to being the defending champ, he’s a 4 time Regional athlete and he finished 9th in the Meridian last year. Like all the South Africans, he has the advantage of competing close to home. If you haven’t known about Alan before, make sure you do before things kick off in South Africa!  

Photo courtesy of:Fittest in Cape Town

My Predictions

  1. Cole Sager
  2. Jason Smith
  3. Streat Hoerner
  4. James Newbury
  5. Tim Paulson
  6. Daniel Viger
  7. Mitchel Stevenson
  8. Sean Sweeny
  9. Khan Porter
  10. Alan Foulis

Brian (@coachbrianfriend on Instagram) is a free lancing writer and has also written an article each for Women (posted before this one) & Teams FiCT predictions - stay tuned!