March 6, 2014
Oma and the Open
By Tatum Vayavananda

"My score on the board is the lowest, but that’s OK because I’m amazed to be on that board and that’s what counts. I know I’m still in the game."

Photos courtesy of Tatum Vayavananda

Dianne Liebenow has done a lot in her 67 years.

She was one of the first women to graduate with a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan, class of 1968. She’s a mother of three and lives in Germany, having moved across the pond from America to actively play grandmother to two boys, ages 3 and 7. She’s attended the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar twice.

And last week, she recorded a score in her third CrossFit Games Open.

“I was a little worried about workout 14.1 and I figured this was the end of my CrossFit career,” Liebnow said, “but I managed to get through it, and I got a 90 and it feels a relief to get (it over with).”

Affectionately known as “Oma” within her CrossFit community, Liebenow has played an integral role at CrossFit Nürnberg ever since she moved to Germany three years ago from Virginia. After retiring from her job, selling her home and all her belongings, she moved to help her daughter and son-in-law as they opened their affiliate.

“We decided to open the gym and we knew we needed help,” said Drake Sladky, Liebenow’s son-in-law and owner of CrossFit Nürnberg. 

“She moved over here to help raise the kids and it was right before the 2012 Open. I said, ‘You are part of the family now so you’re doing the Open,’” Sladky recounted. “And she did that 7 minutes of burpees for her first CrossFit (Games) Open and she’s been here ever since.”

Her nickname “Oma” means grandmother in German.

“She doesn’t just take care of her family and grandkids, but everyone here,” said Daniel Voros, a coach at CrossFit Nürnberg.

“Oma has been here since the beginning and she’s been rocking all her workouts, doing CrossFit almost every day,” Voros said. “And the box is really proud of her because she is close to 70 but still competes and gets better every day.”

She welcomes this identity the community has given her.

“It’s funny because it’s like I have another name, but I’d rather be called ‘Oma’ than ‘grandma’ because it doesn’t make me feel so old,” Liebenow said.

“Being a part of my grandchildren’s lives is absolutely wonderful, and the fabulously supportive folks at the box are like the cherry on top,” Liebenow said.

She did 14.1 as prescribed for Masters Women 60+, completing 90 reps of 30 double-unders and 15 power snatches with a 45-lb. bar in the allotted 10 minutes.

“She thought she might do five or six reps, but she did 90 and that’s amazing,” Voros said. “She rocked it, no question.”

Liebenow uses CrossFit to keep fit. As one of the oldest members and a staple in the box, she helps inspire people and welcomes all ages to the community.

 “I think (CrossFit is) great,” she said. “It doesn’t matter your age. I used to belong to a gym, played tennis and tried to stay active my whole life, but it’s not too late to start.“

“I think people get a little intimidated when they come and see us lifting all these weights, but you work to your ability and if you come to CrossFit, the trainers will scale it for you and your abilities and it’s really great. You don’t have to lift the 45-lb. (bar) like me,” she said with a smirk.  

With 14.1 behind her, Liebenow looks forward to the rest of the Open competition.

“My score on the board is the lowest, but that’s OK because I’m amazed to be on that board and that’s what counts. I know I’m still in the game,” she said.

She’s confident no matter what 14.2 brings.

“I like rowing, but I don’t think they’ll put that in workout 14.2 … But I’ll learn, I’ll go online and watch videos, and get better,” Liebenow said. “Whatever it is, I’ll give it a go and do my best and look forward to it.” 


Proud Partner
Proud Supplier