International weightlifting qualifier held in Columbus

The winners of the World's Strongest Disabled Man qualifier will be headed to a world championship later this year in Norway. (WSYX/WTTE)

Just two months after The Arnold Sports Festival left town, Columbus hosted another nationally-recognized weightlifting competition on Saturday.

The winners of the World's Strongest Disabled Man qualifier will be headed to a world championship later this year in Norway.

An audience of a little more than a dozen watched Saturday as 16 competitors vied for a coveted spot on Team USA. The Strongman-styled competition featured rock carrying, dumbell presses, and competitors pulling a full-size tow truck 50 feet on a closed course.

Almost every competitor had a handicapped or prosthetic appendage on Saturday. Those who did not suffered from spinal or nervous system conditions. Each of them, however, lifted or pulled a tremendous amount of weight in the annual contest.

"They just want an opportunity to go out and show that they can lift heavy stuff, just like the rest of us," said the event's director Chris Vachio, a longtime competitive weightlifter.

Competitors traveled from all over the United States to take part. The only local weightlifter was James Spurgin of Columbus, who suffers from a nerve disability that was brought on by a motorcycle accident 12 years ago. Spurgin only has the use of his left arm.

"This competition definitely pushes people to get better, or to adapt and overcome," Spurgin said. He had to re-learn his life as a left-handed person after the crash, and took up competitive weightlifting as a means to stay fit following a career as a mechanic in the U.S. Marines.

Spurgin lifted more than 150 pounds over his head in a "log press" Saturday, and fell just short on a maximum attempt of 170 pounds. He has already been invited to the international competition later this year.

The World's Strongest Disabled Man event will be held in Norway, in September.


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