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14-Year-Old Oscar Straker Found Community in CrossFit, Took On the Adaptive Open Nine Months Later

March 29, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Amanda White
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At 9-months-old, it was apparent that Oscar Straker had cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. 

The details: Until the age of five, Oscar had to wear special boots to assist him in walking and attended three to four hours of intensive therapy every day. 

  • Similar to CrossFit, this functional-type therapy helped him become more mobile as he grew. But Oscar could never participate in team sports because of his lack of coordination.
  • “Kids were really kind and let him on the team, but he couldn’t contribute as much,” said Oscar’s dad, Grant Straker. 

One big thing: Oscar’s family wanted him to be involved in a sport that was functional and cardio-based while providing the same social aspect he would get in a team sport. CrossFit checked all of the boxes.

  • “I knew that CrossFit was social, it was healthy, and was motivated by people with the right attitude,” Grant Straker said. 
  • Nine months ago, Oscar began training with the head coach of CrossFit Hibiscus Coast, Garth Hill. He trains two to three times a week before the group classes, in an environment that allows for appropriate modifications. Oscar is also greeted by members as they enter the gym, which makes him feel like part of the community.
  • Personal training is essential for him at this point. Hill takes basic movements and scales them down to suit Oscar’s abilities. This could include air squats controlled down to a box, ring rows, and throwing a wall ball at the trainer instead of up at the wall.
  • “It’s really about getting him moving and using those functional movements to the level he’s got and trying to improve from there,” Hill said. 

Why it matters: Eight adaptive divisions were introduced to the CrossFit Open just three months ago, and Oscar’s family couldn’t be more excited that there was a sport he could compete in. Not only is he improving his health and fitness, but he is now able to participate in a competitive sport like most kids his age. 

  • Oscar has been competing in the neuromuscular adaptive division, just meeting the age requirement of 14 years old. This new division has made the Open more inclusive for adaptive athletes by minimizing the impact of their impairment during competition. 
  • “The adaptive category he is taking part in for the Open is a really great test because that is exactly the thing he would struggle with,” Grant Straker said. “You have to balance and exercise at the same time.”

The big picture: CrossFit has improved Oscar’s balance and movement, and has allowed him to participate in activities he never could before. 

  • He can now walk on uneven terrain unassisted, participate in a competitive sport, and continues to inspire the entire community at CrossFit Hibiscus Coast. 
  • “CrossFit has improved the quality of his life because now he can do stuff that lots of other people can do,” Grant Straker said. 
  • “A lot of the adaptive community are starting to realize that CrossFit is functional, so there is a heap of benefits you don’t get in many other sports,” he added. 

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