A few local arm wrestlers performed well in their return to competitive action at the Manitoba Provincial Arm Wrestling Championship last week.
Jordan Espey and Spencer Cleaver both finished in first place in their respective divisions, with Espey placing first with her left arm and second with her right, while Cleaver finished in the top spot for both arms.
Espey says she was unsure how she would perform after more than two years away from the sport due to the pandemic.
"I went up there not feeling too confident, and when I started my first match, it was pretty even," Espey explains. "We were stuck at a standstill in the middle of the table for a good 20 seconds before we slipped out. So, we had to go into a strap match, which was back and forth the whole time, but overall I ended up winning."
Espey won three of her four matches throughout the day, going undefeated as a lefty. As for Cleaver, his last tournament was in Moose Jaw in February of 2020, and he notes that he has been training locally with Ryan Espey. He says it was great to know that he hasn't lost a step.
"It sure helps to have Ryan in your corner. He's helped out a lot of guys, as he's obviously one of the best in the world," says Cleaver. "It was fun to compete again and to get to see all of the other guys that I hadn't seen in a while either."
At this provincial event, Ryan Espey was awarded the honours of being named 'Mentor of the Year' while other local competitors, Robin Boyachek and Warren Kernot, got two silvers and a bronze medal, respectively.
Jordan says a big part of the reason she got into the sport of arm wrestling was inspiration from her father, Ryan.
"An opportunity came to me when I was about eight years old and, just for fun, my dad entered my name in to see how I'd do," Espey continues. "I did pretty well, and I ended up loving it. So, then I started to tag along for my dad's practices and competitions. I started getting my name entered in the youth division and kind of got hooked."
With their first-place finishes, both Espey and Cleaver have punched their ticket to the 2022 Canadian National Arm Wrestling Championships. Cleaver talks about how excited he is to take part.
"On the July 1st weekend is nationals in Winnipeg. That's been put off since 2020, but now it's finally happening," says Cleaver. "That will be the biggest tournament that I've ever been to. We've had a lot of new people popping up and doing really well, so I think it'll be interesting to see how Team Manitoba does at nationals."
Cleaver says he has a great opportunity being able to train with Ryan ahead of the national tournament. He says one of the main things he tells everyone is to stick to their game plan.
Espey and Cleaver are excited to represent their province at this year's Canadian National Arm Wrestling Championships.