• Ronald Kern

America’s Strongest Adaptive Athlete Facing Forward

Last June, Army veteran Nickolas Edinger became America’s Strongest Adaptive Athlete. The competition, held in Columbus, Ohio, included typical strongman events such as stone lifting, the log press, picking up cars and pulling trucks. After winning the title, Edinger went on to London to compete in the World’s Strongest Disabled Man competition. He won that too.

Edinger’s first powerlifting win was at the age of thirteen. He grew up in Medford, Oregon but an educational opportunity provided by the Wyakin Warrior Foundation brought him to the Boise area.

Prior to moving to Idaho, Edinger was a corporal serving in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division. They were on a mission on March 30, 2010 when an IED took his left leg below the knee.

“If I just gave up and said ‘woe is me’ then I am letting the man who put that bomb there win,” Edinger says. This mindset and his subsequent titles are a testament to Edinger’s determination and drive, something he credits his parents for instilling.

“My dad, growing up, was a no-nonsense guy. If something bad happened to you, you would need to react proactively. Otherwise you’re not benefiting anyone by complaining about your situation.”

He says it’s silly but explains that it’s like Dory, in the movie Finding Nemo—“Just keep swimming. It fits though because it is so true. You’ve got to roll with the punches if you’re going to get anywhere.”

Edinger can be found either working out or working. He’s a regular at Verdant CrossFit doing a combination of CrossFit and strongman exercises. He is also coaching a friend of his that is planning on competing in a local Strongman event in July.

When asked about whether he will be competing himself, Edinger explains that it’s tough. He would like to defend his world title in Manchester, where the World’s Strongest Disabled Man is being held this year, but with most of the sponsorships abroad, he’s not sure how he will do it. “I have a few sponsors in mind but the travel is expensive.”

Regardless, Edinger is looking toward the future in other ways too. He plans on working toward getting his EMT Basic Certification and Paramedic Certification starting in the fall. His goal is to join either Boise or Meridian Fire Department. “The people who know me think that would be a great fit. It’s similar to the structure found with a military lifestyle and I do well with that sort of thing,” he says.

Special thanks to Coyote Design for contributing this article.

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