THUNDER BAY -- Luke Skaarup has no doubts this city is the strongest in all of Canada.
The two-time winner of Ontario’s Strongest Man is the only champion in the history of Thunder Bay’s Strongest Man, which was held for the fourth time on Saturday in the parking lot outside the Wayland Hotel.
Growing the sport is a primary focus for the 34-year-old as he continues his career.
“It’s great to get a win in your hometown and show people what the sport of strong man is all about,” he said. “Having someone like myself who has been to the worlds, North American championships, provincial championships helps to build the prestige of the event and get the word out.”
Skaarup got off to a flying start, as he and fellow competitor Ben Thompson set an Ontario record, tying at 230 pounds in the circus dumbbell press.
Other events included flipping tires weighing between 750 to 1,100 pounds, lifting a 1,300 pound stock car and a medley of other strength disciplines.
His success and reaching prestigious events drives other locals, like Thompson, to reach the next level in their strongman careers.
The popularity of strength sports is on the rise in Thunder Bay, as seen by participation in the Thunder Bay’s Strongest Man competition.
Organizer Kateri Skaarup said the inaugural event had only six competitors, but increasing numbers have resulted in the creation of a new weight category for this year.
It is also quickly becoming a spectator sport, as hundreds of people converged on the Westfort area event.
The concept of strongman competitions fit well with the fabric of the city.
“Thunder Bay is a tough, blue-collar town and this sort of event fits in perfectly,” Skaarup said.
Money raised from the event will be donated to Camp Quality.
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