For Penticton’s Richard Henson, winning the Canadian National Arm Wrestling Championship was hands down the highlight of his sporting career.
And it was no small feat for the 57-year-old.
“It’s been eight years of hard work,” said Henson, who won the national Grand Masters 90 title earlier this month in Winnipeg.
“Yes, eight years in the making, it was pretty awesome.”
His fifth time around at the nationals proved to be the charm, winning a pair of medals after finishing near the bottom last year in the same competition.
Henson wasn’t the only one from the Peach City at the competition, his good friend Brian Moore was also there.
Moore, 63, has been arm wrestling for decades and also brought home a pair medals, a silver and bronze, describing his experience as, “living the dream.”
Meanwhile, Henson credits his mindset as much as his skill level for his success this time around.
“The difference was I always went trying not to lose and this time I went there to win,” said Henson. “When I hit the finals I told my wife, ‘He (opponent) is not beating me, I know he’s not beating me.’
“Timing and concentration and focus, you really have to get your neurological system lined up to explode because if you’re a fraction of a second off you lose.”
While his prediction of winning came true, it was not without a few tense moments when he was facing what appeared to be insurmountable odds.
Being down by two defeats in the triple-loss event, he had to beat the eventual silver medalist, Brad Esmond of Saskatchewan, by three matches in the final two events that included eight trips in a row to the table.
The gold was in the left-arm class and Henson had won a bronze earlier in the day in the right- arm division.
He earned a spot on the B.C. team by managing silver and bronze finishes at the provincial competition.
What does he enjoy most about arm wrestling?
“The brotherhood, absolutely,” he quickly replied. “The guys in the States invited me into their houses to stay the night, when I go across Canada people invite you in to their houses. When a guy beats you, he comes up to you and tells you how to beat him, I’ve done multiple sports and no other sport is like that.”
Henson has worked over the years not only improving his skill level, but promoting the sport of arm wrestling, including helping establish the Okanagan Arm Wrestling Club.
“The underground sport of arm wrestling is not so underground anymore,” he said. “The history of arm wrestling is rich in B.C..”
Anyone wanting to learn more about the sport or joining the local club can log onto the Okanagan Arm Wrestling Club’s Facebook page.
Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Penticton Herald