Only if we were given a heads up from life on those little curve balls!
In other news, I have been waiting to get a chance to go back to Finland since I competed there in mid-June of 2019. So technically I’ve had 3 opportunities, and have trained hard for all 3 competitions, but there is that curve ball from life again. During these training blocks, I had turned down invitations to other meets around the United States as well, but not worth going back playing the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” game now. The opportunities I had going to Finland were all perfect competitions for me, BUT Covid-19 cancelled one in 2020, then it cancelled the second in June 2021, and finally the third was a go! That third meet, oh boy, that was set to be a solid contest! I had been training hard, I mean putting it all out there for 12 weeks getting prepped and ready for this 3rd chance. Then COVID restrictions came to me from the promoter, and the timeline just was not suitable to get this list done, and still get there on time with all the “gray areas of restrictions”. So, I had to turn down my dream of competing there once again. I was forced to say no!
This curve ball thrown from life is a big deal and it stinks, but I had to make the best choice for the situation. This does not mean that chance will not come back, it very well can, and probably will in the future. Dreams stick with you. They take detours; new doors open and others close, but as much as that sounds too “cliché” it is the absolute truth. I love the competitions in Europe, and especially Finland. Some of my closest friends live there and we speak often. Those people are great, and they treat you like family. They are a solid group that we all get to share the sport of strongman with. I am truly excited to get back there once this COVID thing settles down and travel becomes a little easier.
So, what did I do? Well, I caught that curve ball from life, took about two days to detour flights, changed plans quickly and moved on! I thought to myself, I’ve been training so hard I can’t let this go to waste, and I didn’t! I found a Pro/Am competition outside of Seattle, WA called the Rainier Pro Classic and I immediately signed up. This had only given me about 3 weeks to train versus the normal 12! This competition was a little unique as it had amateur classes in the morning, and pro classes in the afternoon. To compete in the “pro class”, you had to either be a pro in Strongman Corporation (the federation which sanctioned this contest) or an amateur willing to take them on, and they won cash prizes. But I didn’t want that. Sort of crazy I turned down a possibility at cash prizes right?! Well in the amateur-only classes, the winner of each class qualified for the Arnold Classic next March of 2022! This was a bigger goal of mine and more meaningful as the Arnold Classic in this situation is the Arnold Amateur World Championships, which is a huge deal for strongman competitors! Here is a summary of how the Arnold goes down: it is a 3-day competition with 2 events per day and you need to qualify for the 3rd day which could have 2-3 events. Only the top 10 go to day 3! Each class could have 50 athletes per class, and each of those athletes (being strong sons of bitches) are all chasing that pro card. Not to mention, this has competitors from around the world in each weight class! This is the most competitive event out there and if you win day 3, you are qualified to be on the “big stage” the following year with the big boys such as Thor, Shaw, Hall, you know who I’m talking about! I want that chance and I want to be there with the best!
Back to the Rainier Classic and what I was up against. We had 5 events, which is normal, and I had 22 guys sign up in my heavy weight class and they were all hungry to get their shot at qualifying for the Arnold!
Here were the events:
I had gone so deep into the zone that Lacee and my group of fellow athletes needed to remind me of where I was and help me snap out of it. The heavyweight men congratulated each other on a job well done and were able to sit and talk for about 10 minutes until the promoters began the award ceremony. They announced the winners of each class and described the prizes and qualification of the first-place finishers to attend the Arnold Classic. Us big guys, we received our recognition and awards; then we waived to the crowd and quickly sat our butts back down as we were exhausted from our battle. I stayed the rest of the day since we were done at 12:30 and the pros started at 1:30. I watched them, cheered for them, and helped as much as possible. The entire afternoon I was thinking of where I need to be in 6 months. It was wonderful to watch some of my friends compete that afternoon, but honestly, I was in shock over my own accomplishment and felt myself quietly soaking it all up. This was a great curve ball from life and I appreciated every second of it! Now to train for the Arnold and shoot be the #1 amateur in the world and become a professional strongman!