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Crossfit Champion Paralyzed When Deadlift Snatch Goes Horribly Wrong

If you’re at all familiar with Crossfit, you’re aware that it has the power to dramatically change people’s lives for the better. Predicated on fitness through sheer hardwork — sort of the anti-shake weight, if you will — Crossfit combines the Olympic sport of powerlifting with gymnastics, and a myriad of other endurance feats.

Did we mention it’s incredibly dangerous?

[ABC] Kevin Ogar was performing a routine “snatch” at a fitness competition this weekend in southern California, a move thousands of amateur athletes do in their local CrossFit gyms each week, when something went wrong.

Ogar, a top-tier CrossFit athlete, hoped his training would one day take him to the equivalent of the World Series of the burgeoning sport, the CrossFit Games, where $300,000 and professional sponsorship could be top prizes. The sport combines weightlifting, gymnastics and sprinting.

But on Sunday, as Ogar lifted hundreds of pounds of weights first to his waist, and then up over his head, he bailed on the lift, letting the bar bounce to the floor behind him. There, it bounced against another set of weights, came up, and hit Ogar in the back, critically injuring his spine.

“When impact was made, he jumped almost like someone shot him,” Ogar’s friend, boss and training-partner Matt Hathcock told ABC News.

Ogar was told that he may never walk again, though he doesn’t blame the sport. However, you’d be crazy if you thought that the odds of catastrophic injury were reduced by routinely holding 200-pound metal objects over your head. As a sport, we don’t see anything wrong with highly trained individuals attempting these kinds of death-defying moves — it’s the “exercise class” component that’s being questioned. Should a 19-year-old girl be instructed to dead lift? Eh, the more stuff like this happens, the more it seems like the answer is a resounding “no.”

Here’s the video of what went wrong.

Over $200,000 has been raised by the Crossfit community to help pay for Ogar’s medical bills. You can donate here.

  • Katie

    Yes. A 19 year old girl should be deadlifting since it strengthens her back. It’s pretty sexist to imply that she isn’t capable of strengthening her body. A child, no, but a 19 year old woman, yes.

    Not to mention, the athlete injured was a highly skilled athlete who performed at elite levels. The odds of that happening with a person in a typical crossfit class are extremely low as they do not use this much weight.

    Finally, the movement that was performed was called a snatch. It is an Olympic lift, not a power lift. There is no such thing as a deadlift snatch.

  • Matty

    I think it would be best for you, as a journalist, to take a minute and think about what you are writing. Your story on Kevin Ogar’s injury is very poor from a few standpoints that are mentioned later. Yes, Kevin was injured and may be paralyzed for the rest of his life. You got that fact right.

    However, have you researched the injury rates and severity of injuries associated with CrossFit or functional fitness competitions and compared it to many other popular sports/activities? How about comparing it to how dangerous a sedentary lifestyle is? Is the rate high enough to make the statement on CrossFit that “its incredibly dangerous”? Relative to what? I don’t think you have done the research. You merely are writing an article that you want to catch someone’s eye.

    Worse yet, the following statement:
    “Should a 19-year-old girl be instructed to dead lift? Eh, the more stuff like this happens, the more it seems like the answer is a resounding “no.”.
    Are you serious??? Do you recommend that if a person needs to lift up their kid at some time in their life that they call someone else to help them? Or should they just go ahead and risk injuring their back? You obviously don’t know what a deadlift is.

    Congratulations on probably scaring some from taking a step forward that would most likely drastically improve their lives. Out of thousands that try it, some will injure their wrist (I did once, it healed fairly quickly, even at 45 years old), others will sprain a knee or other joint. Could their be serious injuries? Yes. (in your follow up article which you should write, please include other sports that your readers should shy away from based on your knowledge of injury rates and severities).

    What is not so exciting to report on is the very very high percentages of lives that are improved and some lives even saved by this lifestyle. it may not have the ‘shock’ value you are looking for, but to report on it would probably give you more of a sense of accomplishment, self-worth, and value (similar to the feelings experienced by this growing community on a daily basis). That community understands that NOT learning deadlifts is actually dangerous.

  • Matty

    I did mean to mention that you at least included a link to the fund raising website. Thank you for that. It would have been nice to mention that the high amount of funds raised in a short period of time is another testament to the community that CrossFit is.

  • rudy hodges

    here is the point- you can push your body- your bones and your heart to the point of failure. altho this accident was very unusual, there have been many injuries over the years to weight lifters who over tax their wrists legs low back etc..even causing a pro lapsed rectum in a few cases.

    the message is – you can work out hard, but using very heavy weight is dangerous- I would say 200 pounds should be max..the rest is just over kill..pushing your body past the breaking point just breaks it down- it does not make it stronger..

  • Anonymous

    What the…what are you talking about. 200 pounds should be the max? For what? What if you weight 250 lbs? Have you watched the olympics? 160 lbs guys are snatching 400 pounds. …and lifting heavy doesn’t make you stronger?! You should remove your post.

  • Anonymous

    this was a FREAK accident!!! if those weights weren’t behind him then the bar would not have bounced back. how did this become an ethical discussion on crossfit and lifting weights? this makes no sense!

  • Felix

    This article is moronic–do you realize this was a freak accident and that Olympic athletes perform these lifts all the time? To imply that somehow this was dangerous is like implying that walking along the crosswalk in NYC is dangerous. Get your facts straight before you spout something that makes you look stupid and uninformed.

  • barbara

    THe weights being behind him had nothing to do with the bar bouncing back. I cross fit regularly and can tell you from experience that when you drop a heavy bar from overhead and onto the floor it bounces backs amazingly high and it has nothing to do with the weights having been behind him. we are always warned that if you are going to drop you bar you need to control it on the bounce back so that no one gets hurt.

  • barbara

    How about a forty year old woman? I cross fit and regularly deadliest much more than my body weight. I see no reason why a nineteen year old girl or a forty year old woman should not be deadlifting and i feel great. I guess you think all women should stick to pilates?

  • Captain Obvious

    The entire problem here is the facility this guy was lifting in was stacking weights behind the platform. I have never seen anyone do that, obviously because it is highly unsafe.

    This injury has nothing to do with the lift, the sport, or the weight. The injury is a result of the facility storing weights in an unsafe location.

  • Captain Obvious

    Look at pictures of olympic lifting facilities all over the world and nearly every single one is storing their weights to the sides of the platforms.. This gym is at fault for this athlete’s injury.

  • Captain Obvious

    You are absolutely correct. The only reason he was injured was because they are storing weights in a stupid, unsafe spot. Anyone blaming his injury on crossfit, the weight of the snatch, the snatch itself,etc is probably just a crossfit hater or a non-lifter and is eager to use this accident as some evidence for their bias against lifting/crossfit/etc.

  • Captain Obvious

    So you are saying the bar hitting the weight stack , which changed the return bounce angle, has nothing to do with the bar hitting him? What?….what?

    If he had bailed on the lift, and the bar just hit the floor behind him..it would have been most likely just a normal missed lift. Right?

    So then how the hell are you claiming that the bar hitting the weight stack had nothing to do with it?

  • Dylan

    The 19 yea old girl who is instructed to deadlift will grow to be the 70 year old
    Woman with no osteopenia or trouble picking up her grand kids. How dangerous.

  • Kris

    CrossFit or Weightlifting is not dangerous when practiced correctly and appropriately.
    This guy is a professional.

    Personally I would not be lifting with that mess on the floor behind him. That is the problem.

    That is clearly a safety issue the officials should be accountable for. Why were those plate weights on the floor behind him ?

  • Brian

    Deadlifting is a one of the best exercises you can do. The Danger comes from doing Olympic Style LIfts.. AKA Clean and Jerk and Snatch. These are designed as low rep exercises to develop power. but someone thought it would be a good idea to take this highly technical exercise and turn it into a stamina exercise. I don’t have a problem with people doing crossfit, nor do I have a problem with Crossfit itself. I do not like the weekend seminar to get certified to teach people the most complex two exercises in the fitness world. People compete in the Olympics over the clean and press and snatch movements. Olympic weight lifters spend years… decades.. under a coach who has been studying these exercises for decades to get it perfect. the audacity of people to think they can learn it half ass then show it even more half ass to someone who barely knows how to do it properly is crazy. Crossfit needs to police it ranks and stop thinking about how much money they can make off a certification program and focus more on how they can make the best coaches possible for their sport.

  • long time lifter

    What is a deadlift snatch? Powerlifting is not an olympic sport, weightlifting (snatch and Clean & Jerk) is. Obviously the writer did not do too much research or question anyone knowledgable.

  • Lauren

    Absolutely yes. Crossfit is just as dangerous as any other sport. just as any other sport, there is a need to teach proper safety and technique. Yes, accidents happen, like Kevin Ogars. The CrossFit community recognizes that and is supporting Ogar through this time.
    As an eighteen year old girl, I find CrossFit an exhilarating, empowering sport. I understand there is risk. So does everyone else. I wouldn’t call a snatch or a deadlift “Death defying”. They’re functional movements.

  • Sebastian

    This article just seems retarded. You write yourself “a move thousands of amateur athletes do in their local CrossFit gyms each week”, yet serious accidents are rare.

    So why not just save words like incredibly dangerous for moving in traffic, which is much more likely to get you injured.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/ThiVids Thi Nguyen

    I know really, a deadlift snatch xD. I mean, when they call it a ‘Squat’ Clean, I’m more okay with that, since the Squat is a secondary transition in the Clean and having it called ‘Squat” Clean is a good cue for people. Deadlift Snatch though, is not necessary because how else are you going to get that bar up to snatch with? Levitate it? lmao. It’s a personal funny thing for me xD.

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