Terrace arm wrestler Allan Heinricks is heading to the world championships with Team Canada once again.
The long-standing local powerhouse has just returned from nationals, held in Vancouver, where he won gold in the able-body Grand Masters 100+kg category, meaning he will be travelling to Brazil mid-September to compete amongst thousands of other professional arm wrestlers from 37 countries.
He also won silver in the Physically Challenged category – there were only two men in that competition. Vern Martel, who won gold in that category is an ex-World and Canadian champion.
“I didn’t mind losing to him even though we both gave it our all,” said Heinricks. “He said that it felt like I crushed his hand at the start.”
This isn’t Heinricks’ first taste of large-scale competition — a competitive arm wrestler for more than 15 years, he says he’s been to “too many competitions to count.”
This was his 10th time competing at the national level. Competition during the five days at nationals was tough, he said.
“My arm is still hurting,” he said.
Arm wrestling has been Heinricks’ ticket to travel the world – he’s been to South Africa, Germany, Sweden, Holland, and Kazakhstan competing with people from all over the world.
There are always a lot of new people at the competitions, he said. “That’s one of the best parts, meeting all of the people.”
Heinricks, who is wheelchair bound, first started arm wrestling after losing function of the left side of his body after a stroke.
“I said to myself, I’ve got half a body left,” he said. “How can I utilize it?”
He attended physical therapy, which led to more serious training, which, naturally, led to competitions.
Most of the time, he’s the only one in a wheelchair at competitions, he said, noting that he doesn’t think having the use of only one arm – and an incredibly strong one at that – helps or hurts his chances.
“It’s heavy, heavy competition,” he said. “But I think I can win.”
Leading up to the games, he’s going to continue his regime of healthy eating and intense physical training, at the gym five times a week with a trainer, and at home “all of the time.” He plans to head to Vancouver at the end of August to train with the rest of the pros.
He doesn’t have a sponsor this time around, so you can find his table set up at his usual spots – Walmart, Save-On, and Canadian Tire – soliciting community donations to get him to worlds.
Thoughts of organizing a fundraiser have just entered his head, and he is in talks with a woman from Kelowna to accompany him to the competition as Team Canada rules state he needs to take a companion.