KAYLA DRAKE | Multimedia Producer
The North American Strongman Championships attracted hundreds of lifting enthusiasts to St. Charles for the competition Oct. 27-28.
The Strongman Corporation has existed in St. Charles for over a decade, but this is the first time a competition has been held in the convention center.
Over 200 amateur weightlifters qualified to compete — both men and women. If the athletes placed well, they could get a chance to become professional.
“This is a good chance to qualify for the amateur world championships and for a chance for a lot of the amateurs to get their pro cards,” said Ulice Payne III, a Strongman competitor and personal trainer.
Strongman athletes started at 200 pounds and progressed upwards of 800 pounds. Athletes could compete in five different events: axle clean and press, frame carry, frame deadlift, circus dumbbell clean and press and a medley, which combines the events.
Competitors were from all over North America, from Hawaii to Canada. All 50 states were represented by Strongman athletes.
For the most part, these competitors hold regular day jobs. Police officer, Dejanee White said she weight lifts to relieve stress.
“Honestly weightlifting is my happy place,” she said. “I’m in a very stressful job, so it takes a lot of pressure off of me when I’m in the gym, lifting heavy.”
The sports sales manager for the St. Charles Convention Center, Chris Wilson, said he reached out to the Strongman Corp. because he thought it was a good economic opportunity for St. Charles.
“We’re talking about overnight stays, restaurants visits,” he said. “And when these athletes eat, they really eat.”
Wilson said he welcomed the idea of hosting the championships again next year if offered the chance.
The North American Strongman Championships were the qualifiers for the Arnold World Championships, as named in honor of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It will determine if some athletes go professional or not and will take place in March in Columbus, Ohio.