When people are diagnosed with certain disabilities, they are likely told that they will not be able to participate in competitive athletics. But for some, they take this as a challenge in proving everyone wrong. One individual with a disability who decided to make his own name for himself in athletics is 34-year-old Matt Elson, who was once bullied in school as is now in his 4th Elite Disability Competition. As a child, Elson was diagnosed with hemiplegia, which is a cerebral palsy disorder that impairs his left side of the body.
This developed a competitive edge in Elson, where he embraced the challenges he faces in his sport. "I am determined to find new ways to navigate through these hurdles and break down barriers," said Elson. As a result, he won 4th place in the PCA World Mixed Disability category in 2018. But Elson isn't the only one taking over the world of fitness in spite of his disability.
Wade McCrae Washington: Dreaming Beyond His Disability
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy and scoliosis at a young age, doctors told Wade McCrae Washington that he would not live to see 18 years. However, his determination didn't stop him from taking up bodybuilding. Entering the Texas gym, Washington met 2007 Nationals Champion IFBB, Tina Chandler, who would hold talks with him on fitness and other related activities. After the death of his grandmother, Washington was determined to achieve his dreams of becoming a bodybuilding champion. With the help of Chandler, the duo found Nspire Sports League, taking home a medal and becoming the first bodybuilder to win in his division.
Steve Alexy: Fitness Influencer with Cerebral Palsy
Another bodybuilder with cerebral palsy who shows you can also be an inspiration to others is Steve Alexy, who posts regular workout videos on his Instagram where he has 15,000 followers. Alexy, who is from Suffolk, Virginia, was born with cerebral palsy and was told early on that he would not walk. Since starting his bodybuilding career, he has since taken home 6 trophies in competitions. He lives by his motto, "I may have a disability, but I am not disabled."
Nick Scott: Paralyzed at 16
Some athletes are not born with their disabilities but are victims of a tragic accident that has left them disabled, like Nick Scott. Scott is a 37-year-old from San Antonio, who was part of his varsity football team when he was involved in a car accident at 16. The tragic incident left him paralyzed from the waist down, leading doctors to inform him he would not be able to walk or play sports again. For the past 20 years, he has been using a wheelchair to move around, which resulted in an unhealthy weight gain. Unhappy with how he was living, Scott started weightlifting. With his mobility limited, he focused on the bench press as this was one of the few ways he could compete. Soon, he received the nickname of "the Beast" and became a champion at the 2014 IFBB Dallas Pro Show.
For anyone getting into bodybuilding, there is definitely a tough road ahead filled with physical exertion and the need for discipline. But these bodybuilders living with disabilities have gone to show that nothing can stop you if you don't give up.