Local arm wrestler places at World Championships
Airdrie’s Darrel Belyk attended his seventh world championships Sept. 13 to 15 in Soa Vicente, Brazil, bringing home a third place finish in the 75-kg class.
Facing off against 12 other arm wrestlers in his class, Belyk pulled against competitors from all over the world. He found himself at the table with an arm wrestler from Russia for second and third place on the podium.
“We lined up, we were good to the go and he took me down but he had a body position advantage. That was my seventh pull within an hour,” said Belyk. “I have to be conditioned for that, the calibre of competitors and the amount of matches in a short period of time.”
With the bronze medal in hand, Belyk said he is happy with the results considering the great talent that attended this year’s Arm Wrestling World Championships.
“I am very happy, I was up against some strong competitors,” he said. “When they gripped up, they were all very strong. I thought I had a good time at beating three right off the go, right away.”
Belyk trained this past year, focusing on his speed and visualization, something his other competitors may not be doing.
“I do something that about half of all arm wrestlers do, it’s imagery,” said Belyk. “Seeing yourself win and lots of positive talk keeps you focused and centred.”
Out of the 1,569 competitors who attended the World Championships this year, 23 of them were from Canada.
“We all know each other quite well,” said Belyk, of the Canadians. “We met up afterwards and had some drinks. It was a great time.”
While heading to a foreign country for a high-calibre event like this is all about the sport, Belyk said Brazil wasn’t his favourite destination.
“My first one (world championships) was the best one, it was in Isreal. I would go back there,” said Belyk. “As far as results go, (my favourite location) would have to be Japan, where I won my world title (in 1999).”
“We had the idea that Brazil would be sunny and hot, with the Caribbean atmosphere,” he said. “Brazil has a lot of homelessness and poverty. We looked around and a lot of places were guarded with razor wire. We were all cautioned not to venture out after dark because of people getting robbed. It might be the dream of some people to go to Brazil, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”
Now that the arm wrestling circuit calms down for a while, Belyk said he is contemplating retirement.
“I have to decide whether I want to do the things I haven’t done so far. I have done all my goals in arm wrestling now. I have a world title and I have gone to some cool places in the world,” said Belyk, “I have to decide if I want to venture to other sports.”
While retirement is on his mind, Belyk was approached by his Russian competitors before he left Brazil.
“There were a couple of Russians who came up to me and gave me an invitation letter to a tournament in Moscow. I was humbled by getting it. It is an invitational so not everyone gets to go,” said Belyk. “But Russia in November? I don’t think so. We will have to see about that one.”