Javier McKinley at a tournament earlier this year in Hinton.
Photo Masha Scheele
The Hinton Armbenders Professional Armwrestling Club had something to celebrate upon returning from the Canadian National Armwrestling Competition in Edmonton.
Vince McKinley, head coach of the club, dominated in both arms in the men’s Grand Masters class and brought home double gold.
McKinley began arm wrestling in 1983 and has been a top competitor when active throughout the years.
After winning gold at nationals in 1985, he went on to become a double gold world champion. He hasn’t decided whether he will compete at the world’s championship this year in December, which are held in Poland.
“I don’t think I’m ready for the worlds this year, next year maybe,” he said. “I haven’t decided yet. I just haven’t really been training hard enough.”
Following in his dad’s footsteps s six-year-old Javier McKinley, working his way to the podium as he brought home two third-place medals in the 13 & under junior 25 kg class. Javier trains with his dad and practices pulling with other kids in the club weekly.
“You should see him, he gets up there and he slams his elbow on the table and he looks across the table with the meanest look on his face,” said Vince McKinley.
If he decides to go to the world championship tournament in Poland this year, he’s positive that Javier will make the trip to compete with him as well.
Another young armwrestler in the club, nine-year- old Keenan Cartier, faced some tough competition at the national tournament as well, placing sixth in left and 14th in right within the junior 40 kg class.
Cartier was up against a 12-year-old boy in the match that could have lead him to the podium in his weight class.
Unfortunately, the opponent who left the tournament with a gold and silver medal took Cartier out of the competition.
“This was done by weight class so you can arm wrestle anyone all the way up to the age of 13 as long as they’re still in your weight class. This one 12-year-old boy that has won nationals two years prior to this, was in Keenan’s weight class,” said his dad, Kyle Cartier.
His dad added that Keenan may have felt a little bit intimidated going into that final match because of his opponent’s age and past experience.
“After being at that level I think he knows that obviously if he wants to win something he’s going to have to put a little bit more effort into it.”
Despite his loss, Keenan was excited to be at the tournament and able to represent Alberta.
The Bartling family from Hinton made the tournament into the ultimate family outing as two of the kids and their dad competed at nationals.
Ten-year-old Lucius Bartling finished third in right arm and sixth in left arm for the junior 60 kg class, while his sister, seven-year-old Uriah Bartling, came in 10th place on left and eighth place in right for the junior 40 kg class.
“They liked it, they had a lot of fun,” said their dad, Herman Bartling, who also competed at nationals for the first time.
He placed 10th in left and ninth in right in the Mens 110 class.
“There were some pretty tough guys. I wasn’t expecting to do too great, but I didn’t do too bad,” he said.
Bartling added that his whole family has been getting into it more each year and they’ve even acquired some tables to practice with at home.
He hopes that next year, his fiancé and youngest son will also compete at nationals alongside him. His youngest will be three years old next year, which is the youngest age allowed to compete.
Most participants from the Armbenders club practice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 pm.
“Sometimes we have half a dozen or there’s as high as 17 or 18 people there,” coach McKinley said.
He hopes in the future that he can take more kids to tournaments throughout Alberta.
“The future of our club has been growing ever since I started. We’re really pushing the kids, it’s the future of our sport,” he said.
More than 200 kids attended nationals this year and a total of 553 people participated. To join the Armbenders club or learn more, message them on Facebook at Hinton Armbenders Professional Armwrestling Club.