Usually when we see a CrossFit athlete at the top of the Leaderboard, we trust the athlete works out hard, eats right, practices his shortcomings daily and is athletically gifted.
However, that is not 100 percent accurate when describing David Andrade, a 30-year-old affiliate owner at CrossFit Quito in Ecuador. Heading into Workout 12.4, David Andrade is in second place in Latin America.
Andrade was born with congenital talipes equinovarus or CTEV, also known as club foot, a malformation that has forced him to undergo several surgeries, many casts, as well as limited motion while growing up. To Andrade, this is a mere “obstacle, not an impediment,” which is rather brave of him considering his limitations.
“I have an almost null range of motion of the ankle, almost no calf muscles, which have muscular atrophy and do not grow regardless of how much I work them,” he says. “I’ve been wearing casts since I was born, changing them after every surgery. I’ve always had lesions in the ankles, knees and hip. I basically learned to walk with casts.”
He always had difficulty in sports since he is automatically in a mechanical disadvantage. “I have no strength in my calves, box jumps and double-unders are hard and my knees take the biggest part of the impact,” he explains. “I cannot run fast and my Oly lifts like the snatch and clean and jerk are affected in the last part of the pull.”
Against all odds and physical disadvantages, Andrade has been practicing CrossFit for four years now. He comes from a family of CrossFitters and box owners, and he owns CrossFit Quito. This is the first time he has competed in the Open due to his lesions, but he is exited and grateful that the amount and quality of CrossFitters in the region has grown. He performed Workouts 12.1 and 12.2 twice, once for reconnaissance and the second time with strategy. “I am not looking for a particular score, it just happens. I am not trying to come out amongst the top in the Leaderboard, I just try my best.”
His best has been more than enough to beon the top part of the Leaderboard. “Mentally, both WODs have felt OK, but it is a hard physical toll.”
Kyle Maynard is one of Andrade’s role models. He considers him a hero who teaches everyone not to make excuses regardless of physical difficulties or disabilities. “Sometimes it is just [physically] too hard, but CrossFit is about overcoming obstacles, and I consider my case only a limitation,” he says. “CrossFit has taught me how to try to not be at a disadvantage, to find a way, to find the answer. I am mentally much stronger now, and the strength of a CrossFitter is unsurpassable. I have learned to fight against my disadvantages 1,000 times more than what I had fought before in my life, that’s what CrossFit is all about.
“I always tell myself before every WOD, ‘Jump into the abyss.’”
He is currently using the Open for preparation to come back full force in 2013. Still, he is second place in the region with just two workouts t to go, well ahead of 2011 Games athlete Matthew Barnett (currently in 19th.)
Despite his disadvantages, Andrade completed 127 burpees on 12.1, 68 snatches on 12.2, and 383 reps on the jumping-intensive 12.3 triplet. At this rate, he is a serious threat to represent Latin America in the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games.