The biggest sports and fitness event in the world has taken place every March in Columbus, Ohio, USA since 1989. With more sports represented, more athletes participating, and more spectators combined than any other event, the Arnold Sports Festival is the world’s premier gathering for physical culture. Strongman sport is heavily represented at “the Arnold” every year, and has become one of the main attractions of the entire expo. Scores of great folks are involved each year with making the various strongman competitions function, and at the most controversial Arnold of all time (2020), an outstanding crew hard working people combined their efforts to make the Strongman Corporation Amateur World Championships happen, as well as the Arnold Pro Strongwoman.
Strongman Corp’s amateur world championships is the most competitive tournament in the world for strongman sport, and I’m not sure if second place is even close. Athletes from dozens of countries from around the globe converge to battle for pro cards, world titles, and the chance to clash with the biggest names in the sport the following year on the pro stage. The competition is so nationally diverse that some divisions’ top four (only the top four competed on the final day) were each from a different country; what in incredible visual it is to see so many nations represented on the roster sheets! The pro women’s championship is also incredibly prestigious, as the stage-show style “spotlight” presentation, live stream, and general big show feel are unique to the Arnold in realm of pro strongwoman competitions. All this is to say, without an outstanding staff, these competitions would not be the quality that they are.
The 2020 Arnold was full of surprises, which, at the time of this writing have gotten more surprising by the day as we are still living in the midst of the most extreme worldwide virus-prevention effort ever orchestrated. Would the competitions even happen? Can the athletes get to Columbus? Will the staff be allowed in the building? All these questions and a host of others were running through our minds as we all descended upon the hallowed grounds of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, where the famous Arnold statue stands.
Regardless, a small army of dedicated iron lovers faithfully converged at the venue, awaiting word from the Strongman Corporation CEO, Dione Masters. Dione, who likely set a new human record for sleep deprivation leading up to the 2020 Arnold, had been working day and night to save the amateur and pro women’s events in light of the government’s orders to shut down the expo at the last minute. Many of the athletes were already in Columbus by the time the announcement was made that the Arnold expo was cancelled, and some had brought family, friends, and coaches all the way from other countries. Thanks to “the Boss Lady” as I call her sometimes, the athletes were all still permitted to compete, even if there wouldn’t be a massive crowd to perform in front of.
Tens of thousands of pounds of equipment were whisked into the building, and staged for action. At the helm of logistical directives was none other than Dave Waters of Kentucky, who some may know only as the big bearded guy who never stops working. Ever. I first buddied up with Dave at Nationals some years ago when I noticed he was like the Energizer Bunny of strongman – the dude was working his ass off to keep things running quickly and smoothly, and never seemed to slow down. Well, Waters had a whole crew of folks just like himself at his disposal, and things were getting done, getting done well, and getting done fast. We risked being shut down by the government at any minute, but by God the crew was going full speed ahead until they dragged us out kicking and
We had a whole team of promoters, athletes, pros, and some folks who just love to help. They moved equipment, loaded and unloaded, refereed for hours on end, recorded results, kept live scoring updates, ran timers, settled disputes, and we haven’t even gotten to our beloved medical team yet. Event after event, heat after heat, athlete after athlete the competition flowed smoothly and efficiently for the amateurs and the pro women. The schedule of events had been changed repeatedly due to the chaos of the situation in the days leading up to the show, and we were under serious pressure to be finished with each of our events in very minimal time frames. A single delay, a single mistake, a single equipment failure could have wreaked havoc, but the Strongman Corp crew was absolutely on point with every aspect of the show in order to beat the deadlines.
A good medical team is such a boost to any contest of this level, and ours was outstanding. At this level the challenges and performances are extreme, and that means at times the consequences can be extreme as well. Bodies pushed to the brink of their ability sometimes fail, and our medical always does a terrific job of treating athletes to keep them “on the field”, or taking good care of them in cases where they are not able to continue. My hat is off to you my friends!
I have compiled what I hope is a comprehensive list of all those that worked their butts off to help make the Arnold Amateur World Championships and the Arnold Pro Strongwoman such tremendous and enjoyable events in 2020, and I would like to share that with you here (in no particular order):
Dione Masters (CEO)
Anthony “Flama Blanca” Furhman
To all of those folks, and anyone I may have unfortunately missed, thank you for your work, your patience, and your dedication to making sure this Arnold went down as surely one of the best ever for Amateur Worlds and the Pro Women. Lord willing, I’ll see you all in Ohio again.
-Paul Mouser, MC