This year’s CrossFit Games featured the Olympic Total where the fittest men and women had two attempts at both the snatch and clean and jerk. Jack Farlow won the men’s event with a 305-pound snatch followed by a 396-pound clean and jerk for a 701-pound (or 318 kilograms) total.
While Farlow, Bronislaw Olenkowicz and Gui Malheiros are known as some of the strongest men in the CrossFit Games field, their lifts could be dwarfed in 2024 if all goes to plan for Anton Pliesnoi.
For those who haven’t heard of Anton Pliesnoi, he is a Georgian and Ukrainian Olympic Weightlifter. But he’s not just any weightlifter. No, he’s an Olympic medalist. Pliesnoi took 3rd place and earned the bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in July-August 2021) in the 96kg weight category.
In Tokyo, Pliesnoi snatched 177kg (390 pounds) and clean and jerked 210kg (463 pounds)!
But coming out of the Olympics Pliesnoi decided he wanted a new challenge. “I’ve always wanted to try CrossFit, but for a long time I did not dare to do it,” Pliesnoi told The Barbell Spin. “After the Olympic Games I decided to make a new challenge for myself, and now I love CrossFit so much that I can’t imagine life without it.”
Pliesnoi is attacking CrossFit just like he did with Olympic Weightlifting. After attempting to learn the sport of CrossFit on his own and getting some advice from friends, he realized to excel he would need a coach. Pliesnoi commented, “I started worked with a triathlon coach for a long time to improve my endurance, swimming and running technique. Then, I started working under the guidance of Fikowski and his coach, David Spurr.”
While Pliesnoi has more than enough strength and learning gymnastics “quickly”, his weakest link is the endurance side of the sport – especially running. It’s something he says he is focused on to shore up that weakness ahead of the 2024 CrossFit Open.
The other unknown is how Pliesnoi handles an in-person CrossFit competition. His only CrossFit competition experience is the Battle for Ukraine online competition held in August 2022. In the Ukraine-only virtual competition, Pliesnoi took 11th place overall.
In the competition, Pliesnoi had an easy event win on a ‘Part B’ workout that was a 3RM Hang Squat Snatch. He recorded 120kg, or 264 pounds. His worst finish was in a 15-minute AMRAP dubbed ‘Burning Lungs’. It featured rowing, wall balls and double-unders. Pliesnoi took 38th.
Pliesnoi is unfazed by that finish. He knows to compete at the highest level requires hard work, proper coaching and experience. That’s why enlisted Fikowski and Spurr to help him on his journey. Anton is also preparing for a team competition in Kiev to gain even more competition experience.
He is doing everything he can to be ready by the time the 2024 CrossFit Open starts. It may be an uphill battle, but don’t be surprised if you see his name near the top of the Europe leaderboard in the coming years, especially when a strength event is programmed.