All Access: Part 1

By Chris Cooper

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Improved prosthetic technology and user-driven innovation are opening new avenues for adaptive athletes who refuse to accept limitations.

On Dec. 22, 2013, vigilant U.S. Transportation Security Administration agents pulled Kendra Bailey out of a screening line.

Bailey’s carryon contained a length of hollow pipe, a short chain, a leather strap and various connectors because she was hoping to do power cleans while visiting a gym on the West Coast. Bailey is an adaptive athlete who was born without her left arm just below the elbow. She attaches her “stump” to the bar using the leather strap, chain and pipe.

“I use it for kettlebell swings and barbell movements,” Bailey said. “The metal pipe is put over the chain to act like a forearm. It works.”

Adaptive technology is improving. Still, athletes are pushing the envelope by modifying high-end appliances—adding chains, ropes, cuffs and belts. They make it work through experimentation, guts and spit.

The tools Bailey packs in her carryon serve one purpose: tearing down any barrier between her and fitness.

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