Arm wrestling championships offer 300 athletes a shot at national glory

Canada’s top arm wrestlers descended on Saskatoon this weekend for the sport’s national championships. Roughly 300 athletes were looking to earn themselves a trip to Bulgaria for the world championships in September.

Clayton Turcotte took up the sport just over two years ago.

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A former Greco-Roman wrestler, Turcotte once came close to winning a national title. Now at the age of 40, he wants to make the most of his second chance to wear the Maple Leaf.

“This is my first nationals. It’s awesome to pull against a lot of the guys that have been pulling for years and national champions,” said Turcotte, who competed in both the masters (40+) and open events.

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    Arm wrestling is divided into several classes, from youth to grandmasters (50+), with separate events for men and women. In the open competition, athletes are divided into weight classes as in other combat sports like boxing.

    The top two finishers in each age or weight class qualify for a spot on Team Canada.

    “There’s some world champions in this room. I’ve been to worlds four or five times and placed top ten in the world,” tournament director Kayne Hemsing said. “At worlds you’re going against Russians, Americans, Brazilians. There’s over 80 countries there.”

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    Wrestlers spend long hours training for matches that often last just a few seconds.

    “You’re trying to strengthen your hands, your grips, especially the tendons in your arms. It’s not always muscle. It’s a lot of technique,” Turcotte explained.

    Win or lose, Turcotte is glad to have found a new sport that fuels his competitive fire.

    “After I see where I’m at with these guys I’m pretty excited at how far I’ve gone in two years.”

    Wearing a Maple Leaf may only be a matter of time.

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