Mat Fraser (athlete)

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Mathew Fraser
Mathew Fraser 1.jpg
Personal information
Born (1990-01-25) January 25, 1990 (age 30)
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
EducationUniversity of Vermont, Northern Michigan University
OccupationCrossFit Athlete
Height5 ft 7 in (170 cm)[1]
Weight195 lb (88 kg)[1]
WebsiteCrossFit athlete page
Achievements and titles
World finals
  • 2014 CrossFit Games Runner-Up
  • 2015 CrossFit Games Runner-Up
  • 2016 CrossFit Games Champion
  • 2017 CrossFit Games Champion
  • 2018 CrossFit Games Champion
  • 2019 CrossFit Games Champion
  • 2020 CrossFit Games Champion
Regional finals5-times Regional champion
North East (2014)
East (2015, 2016, 2017)
Central (2018)

Mathew Fraser (born 1990) is an American professional CrossFit athlete. Fraser is the first person to win five CrossFit Games titles, winning the 2016,[2] 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 CrossFit Games consecutively.

Fraser has a background in Olympic weightlifting and was a junior national champion. He made his debut at the 2014 CrossFit Games and took second place after a strong performance.[3] He was a favorite to win in 2015 with the retirement of four-time defending champion Rich Froning Jr., but was edged out in the final event by Ben Smith. The following year, Fraser took first place by a record margin, and won all the following four CrossFit Games. He overtook the record of four consecutive championships held by Rich Froning Jr. in 2020.

Early life[edit]

Mat Fraser was born to Canadian Olympic figure skaters Don Fraser and Candace Jones in Ontario, Canada, and spent his early childhood in Sharbot Lake.[4][5][6] His mother worked as a doctor while his father was a stay-at-home dad.[7][8] The family moved to Colchester, Vermont in the United States where Fraser attended schools. He played a number of sports, including football and skiing, but became interested in weightlifting when he was 12 years old after a coach saw him trying to compete with a friend lifting weights and taught him how to lift weights with proper techniques.[9] After graduating from high school, he started to train full time in Olympic weightlifting at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado as a resident athlete on scholarship.[10][11]

In 2009, a few weeks before he was due to compete in the Junior World Weightlifting Championship in Bucharest, Romania, he injured his back doing a clean-pull, which was further damaged in a squat after he was encouraged to train a week later.[12] Although in pain, he went to compete in the Championships, but after returning home it was found that he had suffered two breaks in his L5 vertebra.[11] It required him to wear a plastic brace on his torso for four months, but it failed to heal on its own.[7][13] He refused a spinal fusion surgery as it would have ended his athletic career, and he elected instead to have an experimental surgery that involved having his back re-broken, inserting a protein sponge to help heal the bone with two plates and six screws attached to his lower spine.[11][9] The rehabilitation lasted a year, although he resumed training after four months.

Realizing that a career in sport could end abruptly after his injury, Fraser enrolled at the Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan University to study math and physics while he was recovering from his operation.[14][7] After Michigan, he worked on an oil rig for a few months in Rocky Mountain House in Alberta,[15] before returning to Vermont to start a double major course in mechanical engineering and engineering management at the University of Vermont in Burlington.[14] Fraser started training in a CrossFit gym when he was 22,[16] and competed in CrossFit events in 2013, but initially, he competed only to earn some pocket money while he was studying.[17] Although he had originally intended to pursue a career in engineering, by the time he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in May 2016, he had established himself as a CrossFit athlete enough to commit to the sport full time.[17][18]


Fraser came from an Olympic weightlifting background[19] where he earned his first national title in weightlifting when he was 13-years-old and was the school age champion in 2003, 2005 and 2007. In 2009, he became the junior national champion.[10] He injured his back in 2009, but not knowing that he had a broken vertebra, he went on to compete in pain in the Junior World Weightlifting Championship in Bucharest, Romania, and ended up 15th out of 16 in the 77 kg men category.[11][20] After spinal surgery and rehabilitation, he competed in two American Weightlifting Open competitions; he was placed third in the 77 kg men category in 2010,[21] and fifth in 85 kg men in 2011.[22] He retired from the sport as funding was cut after Chicago lost their bid for 2016 Summer Olympics and he lost interest in competitive weightlifting.[23][12]

Fraser become involved in CrossFit when he was looking for a place to do Olympic lifts to keep himself fit during a school break at the University; he chose a CrossFit box (gym) because CrossFit boxes allowed Olympic lifters to use their equipment in towns without Olympic facilities. He trained at Champlain Valley CrossFit, where he was encouraged to compete in CrossFit events. Fraser started competing in 2013 with only 8 months of experience in CrossFit, finishing fifth in the CrossFit North East Regionals. For a time he was also part of New York Rhinos team in the NPGL.[14]

2014–2015: Runner-up[edit]

In 2014, Fraser won the North East Regionals, which gained him some attention.[24] In his first appearance at the CrossFit Games, he ended the competition as runner-up to Rich Froning. He had seven top 10 finishes in this year's events; he was tied for first place with Froning in the Overhead Squat, and finished second in Midline March and Thick 'N Quick. He also won the Rookie of the Year award.[14][25]

In 2015, Froning had retired from individual competition, and Fraser was widely expected to win the 2015 CrossFit Games.[23][26] A number of bad performances in the third day of the competition, particularly in the Soccer Chipper event that he failed to finish but won by Ben Smith, lost Fraser his large lead over Smith, which proved decisive in Smith's eventual victory in the competition.[27] Fraser later described his second place as a "devastating loss" and his "biggest failure", a "lesson I will reflect on the rest of my life".[28] He said: "I hated my 2015 medal. To me it just represented the cut corners, the slacking off, the thinking I could out-train a bad diet." He added: "If I had won in 2015 while carrying those bad habits, I would've kept those bad habits. I would've thought I could do this while eating terribly. I can do this while training sporadically."[29]

2016–present: Champion[edit]

At the 2016 CrossFit Games, Fraser performed consistently well in events he had previously struggled in. Although he won only one event (7k Ranch Trail Run), he came second in seven events and top 10 in nearly all events, and the consistent all-round performance allowed him to dominate the field and emerge as the winner. He won with a 197-point lead over second-place Ben Smith, which was the biggest margin of victory in the history of the Games.[30][31][32]

The following year Fraser was again dominant at the 2017 CrossFit Games, winning four of the last eight events (Triple-G Chipper, Muscle-up Clean Ladder, Heavy 17.5, 2223 Intervals), the first time he won more than one event in a single Games. He finished in first place, extending his record margin of victory to 216 points over Brent Fikowski.[33][34]

Mat Fraser in 2018

In 2018, Fraser's consistent performance again allowed him to defend his title at the 2018 CrossFit Games. He led from the third event onward, winning in two events (Fibonacci and Aeneas) with top 4 finishes in 10 of the 14 events and only one outside the top 10 – 11th on the Marathon Row. He won with a lead of 220 points over challenger Patrick Vellner.[35][7]

Fraser qualified for the 2019 CrossFit Games by winning the first ever sanctioned event held in Dubai under the new qualification system.[36] At the CrossFit Games itself, Fraser faced a strong challenge from Noah Ohlsen despite winning 6 events in this Games. A couple of stumbles on day 2 of the competition saw him trailing Ohlsen in points by the end of the day; a sandbag falling out of his bag in the 6k ruck event resulted in a 60-second penalty and a 17th-place finish, followed by a worse 21st finish in Sprint Couplet. Fraser managed to claw back the deficit in the later events of the competition; a couple of first place finishes (Split Triplet and Clean) and his second and first finishes on Ringer 1 and Ringer 2 in the last day gave him a small lead over Ohlsen, and a win in the final event The Standard made him champion for the fourth time, equaling Froning's record of four consecutive wins.[37]

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 forced major changes to the 2020 CrossFit Games. The competition was separated into two stages; in the first stage, 30 men competed online and Fraser won four of the seven events.[38] The field was then narrowed down to the top 5 men who competed in person in the final stage. Fraser dominated in this much-reduced group of athletes, winning ten of the twelve events, only beaten to second place in Swim 'N' Stuff and CrossFit Total.[39][40]. He won with a greatly-extended record margin; his points total of 1,150 was nearly doubled that of that the runner-up Samuel Kwant (605).[41] He also set a series of other records in the Games: most number of wins in a single Games (10), most number of cumulative event wins (29), most number of consecutive event wins (6), the first continuous unbroken lead in the Games, and his fifth title surpassed Froning's record of four.[42]

Training and diet[edit]

Since switching to CrossFit, he has not followed any sort of routine training program due to the constantly varied movements found in CrossFit and the CrossFit Games. Before the 2015 CrossFit Games, he did not maintain a strict diet and would often eat an entire pint of ice cream or a half-dozen donuts. After coming in second to Ben Smith in 2015, he changed to a stricter diet and dropped ten pounds, although he still does not adhere to a specific diet such as paleo or counting macros, which is common in CrossFit. Fraser tends to eat four to five big meals a day, which include mainly meat and vegetables, along with sticky white rice.[43]

In 2017, he moved to Froning's hometown of Cookeville, Tennessee to train.[44]

In preparation for the 2019 CrossFit Games, he trained regularly with reigning female champion Tia-Clair Toomey and her coach/husband Shane Orr.[45]

CrossFit Games results[edit]

Year Games Regionals Open
2014[46] 2nd 1st (North East) 7th
2015[46] 2nd 1st (East) 1st
2016[46] 1st 1st (East) 7th
2017[46] 1st 1st (East) 1st
2018[46] 1st 1st (Central) 1st
Year Games Qualifier Open
2019 1st 1st (Dubai)
1st (Rogue)
1st (world)
1st (United States)
2020 1st 1st (SiD)[47] 2nd (world)
1st (United States)


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