'We Belong' - World Championships in MalaysiaArticle by Jamie Carle
"Aussie ! Aussie ! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!" could be heard as far as the main foyer of reception, some 14 floors below the competition arena at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel in KL, Malaysia!! Australia's attendance at the 37th world armwrestling championships certainly did not go unnoticed!
For a relatively small team (by European & Eastern European standards) we undoubtedly generated the most decibels – cheering our fellow Aussie’s and other befriended nations’ on stage. Towards the end of the tournament, we had a relatively cleared path for at least two rows in front of where the Aussie team took residence.
The 16 man squad, all dressed in gold and looking ace-sharp, took to the world stage between 29th September and 2nd October 2015; competing across a number of weight classes, as listed in the table below.
Each of the Aussie competitors made their respective weight categories; with Grant Tolentino and John Bowley cutting as much as 3-5 kgs 48 hrs out from weigh-in. And in typical Aussie style, the squad rallied around these boys during their last 24 hrs of what was a deliriously gruelling water cutting process.
The range of competitors walking amongst the hotel was outstanding, with many world class pullers (Oleg, Zoloev, Krasmir, Prudnyk etc) returning to defend their titles.
Aussie's off-the-table banter and rivalry amongst several of the other countries was in good gest and a few of the squad managed to trade Australia regalia for other countries’ merchandise. I thought I had done pretty well when I scored a personalised "Niklas Nannestad" shirt from Sweden; only to be later trumped by Wayne Bowen who obtained a Ukraine uniform from none-other-than the legendary Ievgenni Prudnyk! Man Crush!!! And interestingly, Phil Rasmussen traded regalia with an arm-wrestler from Greenland (Minik Johansen), who was the only representative from his (>80% ice-barren) country – with a population less than 60,000 – and bugger all daylight during winter!! Some use(less) geography facts for you…
As awesome as the main tournament on stage was, it was equally matched by the breadth and depth of arm-wrestling talent at the practice tables, located outside the main arena. The opportunity to pull against a host of different nations and weight classes at the practice tables – for which many of the Aussies took full advantage of – was invaluable. This will translate to an improvement in arm-wrestling across Australia, with many of the squad members able to share their world’s experience at the different clubs around the country. This sort of information sharing among club members should be highly encouraged.
On that note, for those who aspire to represent Australia at the next world arm-wrestling championships in Bulgaria; GO FOT IT! DO IT! But be sure to:
- join your local arm-wrestling club and look up any of the above names who have learnings to share from their world’s experience;
- join the Australian Arm-wrestling Federation AAF (link here); and
- attend Australia’s 2015 national arm-wrestling tournament in Sydney on November 28.
As a squad, one of our key take-home messages from the 37th world arm-wrestling championships is that "we belong".
I would like to make a special acknowledgement to Andrew Lea (Vice-Captain) and Phil Rasmussen (AAF President) for their outstanding efforts leading up and during the event, and a massive congratulations to the Aussie competitors. You guys all rock and I already miss the team comradery. See you all at Nationals and bring on 2016!Jamie Carle