This is a project of CrossFit Dream, sponsored by Sport Vision Bulgaria. It aims at presenting the National Champions from all Central and Eastern European Countries*. It contains data from a survey, Open results comparison and infocharts. The main point is to increase the awareness on crossfit within the region, to promote crossfit as the sport of fitness and to present the national champions of the CEE countries.

The Open

The CrossFit Games Open 2020 is over and we already know who has qualified for the finals through the Open. The interesting part of the leaderboard, however, are the national champions – a solid group of studs who would not have made it to the games with the old format (open-regionals-finals).

The 2020 Games will be the second time we will see the national champions from many different countries around the world. Their debut in 2019 was not as spectacular as expected – most of them left the competition after the first one or two workouts. Despite this, the change in the format seems pretty successful as it gives more athletes a chance to compete.

Next year will be different – The CrossFit Games will take a whole week – almost double the competition days of the Finals in 2019. This sounds promising and the first expectations are toward the cuts. Maybe the athletes will be tested more than once before half of them pack their stuff and leave.

This will make the competition better and would give the national champions better chances for a solid performance. At the Games we will likely see a new breed of rising stars – especially outside US and the Northern states of Europe. 

In the current survey we point our attention to the National Champions from the region of Central and Eastern Europe where around 20 countries will send their best athletes to the Games. Only two years ago it would have been almost impossible for any of them to join the elite simply because all of the countries were packed into 2-3 qualifying spots because of the Regionals.

CrossFit Dream, the first official CrossFit box in Bulgaria, asked the national champions from the CEE region to take part in a survey on the expectations, the Open performance and the goals at the Games. We gathered information from about 30 athletes – males and females – so here are their thoughts.

Where is the CEE region in Open 2020?

As a region CEE stands far behind the US and Northern Europe in the Open leaderboard. Despite this, the region already has its great crossfit competitors and we see several rising stars that will be in the focus for the next decade. Roman Khrennikov from Russia does not need any introduction, he is already the most famous Eastern European in CrossFit.

However, we expect that the community will hear more and more about Lefteris Theofanidis (Greece),  the brothers Lazar and Luka Dukic from Serbia, Piotr Szczycinski (Poland) and Uldis Upenieks (Latvia). At the female front, you should pay attention to the names of Kara Frey (Slovakia), Laura Horvath (Hungary) and Gabriela Migala (Poland).

These athletes, however, are just the tip of the spear. We can see a bunch of other athletes in top 100 after the Open. They are mostly from Russia, Greece and Poland. 

After this solid pack of extremely competitive athletes follows the major group of CEE national champions – most of them are ranked in the range 300-1000. These athletes have a great potential to move forward in the coming years because of their age, goals and commitment to crossfit.

In the third part of the leaderboard are athletes with smaller capacity – most of them are from countries with less developed crossfit infrastructure and poor competition. For them the biggest reward will be participating at the Games – this is their leading motivation and their goals are capped by expectation for great experience and performing at their best.

Who to watch?

Make sure that you keep an eye on some of the best athletes from the region at the Games: Lefteris Theofanidis who won 20.1 and Lazar Dukic – with best 20.5 time. Our favorites among the ladies are Kara Frey, who finished at 9-th position worldwide and Gabriela Migala.

The athletes

Training plan

It is not a surprise: the top athletes in the National champions leaderboard of CEE are professional athletes. Competing is what they do. Khrennikov, Upenieks, Lazar Dukic, Martin Kruzlic (Slovakia), and of course Karin Frey (she is also a student), Gabriela Migala and Mariana Fedorenko (Ukraine).

Most of the participants in the survey say they are athletes and coaches at the same time, some of them are also affiliate owners. There is also a big group of athletes to whom crossfit is just a hobby and have a job outside the box. 

Our honest admiration goes to a small group of talented people who are affiliate owners, athletes and have “regular” jobsAugusin Vilicnik (Croatia), Ralitza Koterlitzova (Bulgaria) and Viki Ristoska (Macedonia). This hinders their abilities to train, thus spending significantly less time in the box working out.

An interesting fact is that there is no specific pattern regarding their training plan – one third of the athletes are following their own box programming, the other third – an online program. Only a fraction of them are following their own plan.


They may be new to the CrossFit Games finals, but they are not shy – there are bold statements and goals such as qualifying among the top 50. Lazar Dukic is the boldest with a goal for entering the top 10. Upenieks and Szczycinski are aiming at top 20 and a bunch of other athletes will be satisfied with top 50. Among the ladies we have Mariana Fedorenko shooting at top 10 and Thelma Christoforou at top 20.

Survey takeaways

The focus is on the lifts

We asked the participants to share their best results in some of the most prominent crossfit movements and benchmarks. There is no surprise: all athletes know their PRs in the snatch and the clean and jerk, the deadlift and the squat. But there is a different story with the bodywork benchmarks: almost no one either does not know or has not tested Cindy recently.

The most common answer to “What is your result on Cindy” is “I do not know”. Guys, be more serious about gymnastics work, please!

Most of the athletes have a background in sports

It doesn’t come as a surprise that most of the national champions have a decent sports experience – be it football, volleyball or water polo. Most of the girls have gymnastics or weightlifting background, which makes their foundations solid.

CrossFit is more than a hobby, it is a lifestyle

Most of the athletes use words like health, fun, life, friends while describing crossfit. It is a challenge too. So if you are just a beginner be ready – you may fall in love with it very soon!

*Poland, Hungary, Czech Rep., Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Northern Macedonia, Moldova and Croatia

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