07/17/2013 07:59 am ET Updated Sep 16, 2013

The 5 Women to Watch at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games

CrossFit is quickly becoming one of the most popular sports in the world and next week, The Reebok CrossFit Games come to the newly named Stubhub Center in Southern California to test the world's fittest athletes over a week of rigorous athletic events and decide who will be the champion in 2013. CrossFit was founded by Greg Glassman in 2000 in Santa Cruz, Calif., and has quickly developed into one of the world's fastest growing sports. It is defined as "constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement." This "sport of fitness" is a combination of weightlifting, running, gymnastics, and overall metabolic conditioning that tests the mind and body.

The road to The Reebok CrossFit Games commenced with The CrossFit Game Open where 140,000 people worldwide entered. From there, the top 30 teams and top 30 individuals in each region qualified for The CrossFit Games Regionals. At the highly competitive regionals, the top 3 teams and top 3 individuals advance to the Olympics of CrossFit, The Reebok CrossFit Games. Next week, the survival of the fittest athletes in the world will be put to the test in front of thousands of spectators.

The Games athletes have devoted hundreds of hours to training in the gym, and dedicated their sweat, blood, and tears to this endeavor. These ladies are the ultimate exhibit that strong really is the new skinny. As next week kicks off The Reebok CrossFit Games, here are five women to watch for the title:

1. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (Canada): This will be Camille's fourth Games. While short in stature, this former gymnast can lift more weight than most men. Her CrossFit Games Open performances as well as her Regional performance showed that 2013 might very well be the year of Camille.
2. Samantha Briggs (UK): This firefighter that hales from Manchester, UK, is a force to be reckoned with. She placed first in the majority of the events at the European Regionals and is looking to take home the gold when she travels to Southern California next week.
3. Talayna Fortunato (USA): The South East Regional champ has been training hard this year and blogging about it at This former collegiate gymnast heptathlete placed third in last years CrossFit Games and is pushing for the title this year.
4. Elisabeth Akinwale (USA): Akinwale's strengths lie in just that, her pure strength. This mother of one destroyed the competition at the North Central regionals. Can her brute strength stand up to the other competitors this year? We will soon find out!
5. Lindsey Valenzuela (USA): Hailing from Dogtown CrossFit in Los Angeles, Valenzuela doesn't have to travel far for her third CrossFit Games. Valenzuela's strength in Olympic lifting has always put her way ahead of the pack, but in the past couple of years she has fine-tuned the other facets of CrossFit to become a skilled all-around athlete, which was apparent when she won gold at the Southern California Regionals. They don't make "Lift like Lindsey" t-shirts for nothing!

The action begins on July 22 and continues through July 28.