United States Marine Corps Veteran Sarah Rudder placed 3rd in the adaptive division of the Crossfit Games for 2021. This was the first year the Crossfit Games hosted an adaptive division. Rudder competed in the lower extremity category since she had her leg amputated years ago.
Rudder shattered her ankle pulling people out of the rubble at the Pentagon after 9/11. Ultimately, because of her injury, she had to sacrifice her leg. She went through a rough patch, gained weight and was put on several medications. Then, she found Catch-A-Lift Fund. CAL is an organization that helps post 9/11 wounded combat veterans recover physically and mentally through fitness. Through CAL she lost 100 pounds and got off more than a dozen medications. Now, she's a coach and in charge of their new Crossfit Affiliation.
"It’s a way that the vets can come in and know that there’s nothing they can’t do. That they might be at one point there lowest part just starting out but I push them each time and say I know this works so just keep going and that way I can turn around and say I told you so," said Rudder. She added, "I love to do that because I know what it’s like to be in there shoes and not want to get up."
She explained how the competition was extremely challenging.
"I felt like I had to be a lot stronger for them to let them know I could do this but I’m gonna be completely honest, to let them know that it was hard. I passed out a couple types, my anxiety took over my breath. It did affect some of my workouts and a lot of people didn’t understand that," Rudder explained.
She added, "I had never been in a large civilian crowd before and being in a large military crowd they understand each other as far PTSD and triggers, so we all know what to kind of look for. In the civilian side, it was a little more difficult because they didn’t understand PTS and triggers and things like that. They didn’t understand the things I had to do so that made it a little difficult but as soon as that buzzer rang to start my workout my mind goes blank and I was focused on that one thing."
Rudder stressed moving forward she would love to see a representative for each division who understands these challenges but for their first time, she said they did a great job.
"It was the first time we were on a somewhat level playing field instead of always being to someone with two legs and we have to work that much harder in order to make our legs and everything move," said Rudder.
She only gave herself a couple days of rest and got right back to it. She plans on competing next year and hopefully we'll see her on the podium again. She's even more excited that some of her Catch-A-Lift athletes plan on competing in the Crossfit Open next year, which is the precursor to the Crossfit Games.
"We might have our disabilities that you can see or not see but we don’t let them define who we are. We do what we can with what we have and we’re gonna push it all the way," said Rudder.