Xabier Osa's Story: The Adaptive Athlete with a Limb Difference

Xabier Osa

My Limb Difference Caused Me to Feel Different When I Was A Kid

I had many physical problems when I was born. The most visible one was that the doctors had to cut part of my left arm. I grew up being different from the other kids, and was made fun of a lot. I didn't feel like I could belong to a group, so I became depressed. My depression was probably difficult to notice because I always tried to smile and be accepted. I ate poorly, didn't take care of myself, exercise, and ended up last in everything.

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Learning to Be An Adaptive Athlete & Accept Myself

One day I remember looking at myself in the mirror and thinking "Is this it? Is this how the rest of my life is going to go?" That day I made a decision that I had to overcome any mental challenge I faced. Before I tried to convince anyone else to accept me, I had to first accept myself. I started running and eating healthy. Then I started losing weight and loved the results. I started going to the gym. I remember I had no idea what to do and none of my friends knew how I could adapt, so I started improvising. I was doing exercises that I never thought would be possible for me to do.   

Changing your mindset will change your life

I moved to the US when I was 20 years old, and started working at a gym where I met friends who helped me adapt powerlifting with my needs. There I was, doing bench presses, deadlifts, shoulder presses, etc. These friends helped me find gear to adapt my workouts so I could do the same things they were doing. I grew hungry for more, and fell in love with growing stronger and overcoming the barriers I had in my mind.

People look at me and see that I don't have part of my left arm, and that is my biggest obstacle. However, the hardest and strongest obstacle I had to overcome was my mindset. I didn't believe I would be good at anything or was worth a penny. That had to change for me to put myself out there and feel accomplished. Then I took it a step further and signed up to an Open Strongman competition with my team. The truth is that I didn't do great, but once again I had to show myself that I could compete with other strong men and women. We all have struggles, but we were all out there trying to do our best.

How Other Adaptive Athletes Motivate Me

Now, I watch other adaptive athletes and I see a whole community that has great potential, who motivate me to keep going, competing, and beating myself to be the best version of myself that I can be. We are all in this together!


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