With public sporting events still being considered a rarity in Manitoba, a popular August-long strongman competition chose to go ahead as planned, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fewer spectators, physical distancing measures and increased sanitation were emphasized by Brickhouse Gym as they proceeded with their 3rd annual Manitoba Strongman Classic.
The competition ran through the day Sunday, at Brickhouse’s King Edward Street location.
The 21 men and women participating in this year’s showdown only found out the competition would continue as planned two months ago after the province rolled out plans for the opening of gyms and fitness centres.
“We have less competitors than usual. Last year we probably had around 35, this year we have just over 20 so it’s a bit of a smaller show. The biggest thing for the competitors is that they had a lot less notice this year that we were, in fact, doing it,” said Paul Taylor, who’s been at the helm of Brickhouse Gym for 13 years.
Chantal Hebert of St. Malo, Man., took home the crown in the women’s novice division in her first strongman event. Hebert was joined by several other first-timers who shared the winner’s concerns surrounding training time leading up to the event.
“I would have liked to have trained for a bit longer, that’s really the only way it affected me and maybe a bit of less spectators being able to come,” says Hebert.
Winnipeg native Tyler Sigurdson won the men’s side overall in his 16th strongman competition, but first time competing in the event put on by Brickhouse.
“I like being bigger than everybody else, I like being stronger than everybody else, I like being able to show that,” Sigurdson told Global News shortly before he clinched a spot in the Canadian nationals for strongman.
After going from not even thinking the event would happen back in late May, the gym’s owner Paul Taylor was relieved the event was able to proceed with spectators after all.
Taylor says since the event’s creation in 2018, the Manitoba Classic has been filling a void in the province’s strongman community.
“There was a little bit of sporadic stuff but there wasn’t necessarily one event you could bank on every year with a lot of prestige that the competitors can set their minds to. We felt that we needed to fill that void, so that’s why we stepped up to the plate three years ago.”
All but one of the participants in this year’s competition were born in Manitoba.