The race for the title of Fittest Woman on Earth® has once again blown open. On May 16, Mal O’Brien announced on Instagram that she will not be competing in the 2023 Semifinals. Without a chance to qualify for the 2023 CrossFit Games, this brings O’Brien’s 2023 CrossFit season to a close.
“Sometimes, we face personal challenges that demand our attention and care,” O’Brien wrote. “It’s important to prioritize our well-being and embrace the support of loved ones.”
The 2022 CrossFit Games runner-up went on to say: “Remember, life isn’t just about winning trophies or achieving goals — it’s about finding balance, taking care of ourselves, and cherishing the moments that truly matter.”
You can read the entire post here:
[Related: “It’s Devastating” — Ricky Garard Will Sit Out the 2023 CrossFit Games Season]
O’Brien is not the first high-profile young woman to withdraw from the 2023 CrossFit season. Twenty-two-year-old Haley Adams announced her withdrawal from the season on Feb. 16, citing her overall mental health and struggles with disordered eating habits.
O’Brien’s announcement came just two days before the Semifinals, which begin on May 18 and run through June 4.
Mal O’Brien’s CrossFit Career
During the last few years, O’Brien has been a dominant presence across the sport. After coming in fourth and fifth in the Girls 14-15 division in 2018 and 2019, respectively, O’Brie first entered the Individual Women’s division at the CrossFit Games in 2021. At those Games, she took home a whopping seventh place and earned herself the title of Rookie of the Year.
In January 2022, O’Brien officially started training under the tutelage of five-time Fittest Man on Earth® Mat Fraser with his HWPO (Hard Work Pays Off) programming and team.
[Read More: Rob Kearney Gives Mat Fraser and Mal O’Brien Pressing Tips]
During the 2022 CrossFit Games, O’Brien became the youngest woman ever to podium during the Games with her second-place finish. Early on in the competition, the teenager kept the leader jersey from six-time Fittest Woman on Earth® Tia-Clair Toomey for the better part of two days. Even during those Games, O’Brien was considered a serious threat to the crown.
In Dec. 2022, Toomey announced that she would not be participating in the 2023 Games because she was giving birth to her first child. Many eyes shifted to O’Brien as the potential rising champ for 2023. She won the 2022 and 2023 CrossFit Open, but despite qualifying, she will not be moving forward to the Semifinals.
What’s Next for Mal O’Brien?
According to her Instagram post, the next phase of O’Brien’s life and training is going to be focused on her. “I’ll be taking this time to focus on what’s important to me, and I appreciate your understanding during this period,” she wrote. “I wish the best of luck to my teammates and competitors.”
With both Toomey and O’Brien out of the running, the 2023 title of Fittest Woman on Earth® is up for grabs. With Laura Horvath hungry for a title after three career podium finishes and two-time Fittest Woman on Earth® Annie Thorisdottir returning to Individual competition, these Games are sure to be memorable.
More CrossFit News
To keep up with the latest on all things CrossFit, check out these stories from BarBend:
Featured Image: @malobrien_ on Instagram
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