I have to talk about Kevin Ogar. I’ve been thinking about him for some time but wasn’t sure what to say. If you don’t know, Kevin is the Crossfit athlete who was paralyzed from the waist down after a failed lift at a recent competition. He was performing a snatch and at the end, loses the bar, dropping it behind his head where it somehow smashed into his upper vertebrae.
I’ve seen the un-edited video coverage. Very, very hard to watch. I’ve seen his tweets just prior to the competition, talking about gearing up for it and getting excited. Now, he’s a hospital bed facing a life without walking, numerous surgeries and monumental medical bills because he doesn’t have health insurance.
As far as I know, Crossfit headquarters hasn’t commented on the situation. I do not blame Crossfit headquarters or Glenn Glassman or anyone else for this. At the end of the day, it was the kind of freak accident all athletes risk when they take to an intense sport. A basket ball player could fall on his neck in a block, a gymnast could easily become paralyzed on any number of events. The same goes for divers, football players and more.
Thoughts on Power Lifting
In the past few months, since I’ve been away from the Crossfit I love so much because of my own back injury, I’ve done a lot of thinking. I still love this sport and would love nothing more then to get better and step back into my box 4-5 days a week, as I was doing most of last year.
I’ve come to recognize that power lifting is some serious shit — and I was not respecting it for what it was. People may call me naive for it but it’s true. Like marathon, you’ve got to respect the distance. Correct form is not an option, it’s a necessity. Lifting more weight than you can handle (or you aren’t sure you can handle) is a big, fat no. I believe most Crossfit boxes emphasize this but sometimes, people just don’t listen.
I’m not the type of person that would be snatching heavy weight. I was always fairly conservative in my lifting and was there for the workout. I enjoyed the high cardio moves like running (shock!) and pull ups and box jumps. But I won’t lie, I loved snatches and cleans and overhead squats. Working with the barbell was exciting and made me feel STRONG even if the weight was nothing to write home about. There is something about moving that bar with swift, correct movements that makes you feel like a badass.
Take Every Lift As Seriously As Your Life
If I were to go back to Crossfit, I’d be keeping Kevin Ogar in mind. I’d be remembering that I can’t ever, one time, NOT take a lift as seriously as my life. And in Crossfit, it can be hard to remember that because of reps and time. Now, listen, I still think we are all responsible for ourselves. If you do Crossfit, you NEED to take this thing seriously. With Kevin, he was a very experienced athlete who knew what he was doing. This was truly an unlikely accident and I don’t believe Crossfit as a whole should be punished for it.
This piece from T-Nation is MUST-READ on the entire thing (and read the entire thing!). The reality is, no one can say for sure what caused this horrific accident. The only video of the incident is from a bad angle so the exact way the bar hit him is impossible to know. A friend from high school — Wil Fleming — who is a power lifter, happened to be quoted in this story. From the article:
“Fatigue could certainly play a role in a bad miss, but the extent and nature of that role can differ,” Fleming told T Nation. “Was Ogar’s muscular fatigue such that he didn’t have the capability to lift the weight? Or was fatigue such that his reactions were slowed and he was unable to safely dump the bar?
“I have a personal record in the snatch of 300 pounds, and I’ve been known to miss a rep here and there at 235, so it’s not impossible to think that it was just a funky rep that went really wrong. Most of us will never be in a position where we fully exert ourselves in a day and then come back the very next day and try to fully exert ourselves on a 3-rep max snatch, so it’s hard to say for sure.”
There are too many factors to ever narrow it down to one. I’ll be very interested to hear from Ogar himself if and when he does agree to interviews. For now, Crossfitters across the country have rallied around him to help raise money for his no-doubt insanely high medical bills. It actually hurts my heart to think about this.
The author of the article sums up my feelings well:
It’s important to understand that the accident happened on the first rep of a snatch with a significantly-sub-maximal weight. While the context of the competition may have contributed to overall fatigue, it was the exact same kind of rep performed by thousands of lifters everyday.
In my opinion, calling this a “CrossFit injury” is creating a quintessential strawman argument and does nothing to allow intelligent discussion.
Agreed. You should read the T-Nation article and maybe see what Kevin himself will say when he comes out of it.
What is really cool? There are already a bunch of photos of Kevin smiling, giving a thumbs up. I bet you he doesn’t let this knock him down. I bet you he will be “Ogar Strong” as the Crossfit community has begun saying.
In fact, yesterday he did come out with something on the Ogar Strong Facebook page. Kevin writes:
There is only room to go up from here, things may get tough, I may get stuck or frustrated that I’m not progressing as fast as I want, but that’s ok. That’s called life, that’s called training, and trust me after years of CrossFitting I’m used to always looking for the next challenge, the next goal, and charging head first into taking on what comes my way. With all of my friends, family, my gym, the CrossFit community, and supporters behind me I will get through this. God has a plan and I feel like he wants me to turn this into something positive. I’m going to do my best to do so.
This is a tragedy but I hope and pray that he digs deep and finds what it takes to overcome these adversities in the end.