Brackenrich beats the odds, qualifies for CrossFit Games

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

For Christian Brackenrich, beating the odds is a way of life. He’s been doing it so long that it comes naturally at this point. He has endured eight surgeries on a club foot since birth, yet he’s always found a way to excel in life and in athletics. 

But earlier this month, he thought his luck had run out. He made it to the semifinals of the prestigious CrossFit Games along with 39 other athletes from across the world. (Christian competes in the “adaptive” category as he lives with a physical disability.) They were competing for the Top 10 slots in the finals. 

And the day before the competition began, Christian caught a nasty virus. “I honestly didn’t think I’d make it to the Top 10,” he confesses. “I had to go to the Emergency Room and couldn’t get out of bed for several days.”

“I said to myself, ‘I’ve done what I could. I’m pleased I made it this far.’” 

In order to have a chance at advancing, he had to complete multiple high-level CrossFit workouts on video and submit them. And he only had a few days left once the virus started to subside. “It was the worst possible timing,” he remembers. 

Last year, a technical problem with his video left him on the outside looking in. With that weighing on his mind and his body feeling ill, he had no room for errors–technical or physical. 

Backed by his teammates, Cory Mann & Elise McClintic, he did the workout at 430am on the final day of qualifying. “They told me that day that they watched the video and there was a problem,” he says. “They said I needed to do it over to be safe.” 

Christian went to work that day and knew he needed to turn in a solid performance that night if he wanted to retain his position in 3rd place and remain in the Top 10. 

The workout was three rounds of muscle-ups, a walking lunge, and a handstand walk. 

“I did it unbroken, without coming off the bars for muscle-ups at all,” he says. “And I actually got faster by 31 seconds that evening.” Competitors earn points by correctly completing each workout in the fastest time possible. 

“I walk better on my hands than I do on my feet,” Christian jokes of his disability. “I don’t limp on my hands.” 

A few weeks later, the results came back…and Christian had done it again, beating the odds (and the stomach virus) and qualifying in the Top 10. He earned a spot in the adaptive category finals for the CrossFit Games. 

“Like I always tell people, you can’t change the cards you’ve been dealt,” he says. “But you can change the way you play them. There’s always something you can do.” 

Christian will travel to San Antonio, Texas, from September 19-22 for the final round. He will be accompanied by his wife, Brittany, and his teammates Dwight Bundy, Regan Bundy, Elise McClintic, Cory Mann, Amanda Lynch, John Lynch, and Chris Snedegar. 

“The support from everyone has been great,” he says. “So humbling and I’m very thankful.” 

From now until then, Christian will step up his workouts to prepare for the finals. “I’ll get up at 3:15am, be to the gym by 3:40pm, work out for 90 minutes, and then head to work. That way I can devote my evenings to Brittany and her daughter. I’ll do a lot of rope climbs between now and then.” 

As far as he knows, Christian is the only rookie in his category, with the other nine competitors returning as veterans. He has spoken with several of them already, including a number of Australian CrossFit adaptive athletes. “Some good banter,” he says, “but they’ve offered to help me out and answer any questions I have since it’s my first time.”

Always a team player, Christian says he will be rooting for his fellow southern West Virginian, Austin Hatfield from Beckley, as he competes in the CrossFit Games as a finalist in the open category later this month. 

“That guy is the Kobe Bryant of CrossFit,” he says. “The ultimate mamba mentality.” 

Stay tuned to RealWV for updates from the CrossFit Games as we follow Christian’s story.

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