26 Mar 2018

2018 Ottawa Open Armwrestling Championships - RECAP

Image: print screen / Devon Larratt

On March 24th, the Ottawa Open Armwrestling Championships were held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The tournament was able to draw many of the strongest arms from Ontario and Quebec, and the matches offered a preview of what might be expected at the Canadian Championships on July 1st.

The event got underway with a kids tournament that attracted 51 entries. Kids aged 5 through 17 were divided into six classes. All members of the Larratt and Roussin clans took part and did well. And the 16-17 year old boys class featured many incredible matches. These guys are already training with armwrestling clubs and are sure to get better quickly if they stick with the sport.

Following the kids tournament, an anticipated 3-out-of-5 right hand supermatch was held between Mathieu Charbonneau and Olivier Larouche-Richard. These guys are two of the best in Canada at around 170 lbs and have different strengths. It looked like the match might be a lopsided as Olivier quickly took the first two matches. But then Mathieu found a way to put the brakes on in the third match and was able to bring back Olivier for the win. In Match 4, Mathieu was once again able to momentarily absorb Olivier’s hit, but Olivier followed up with a strong pump that was just enough to get Mathieu’s hand below the pin line. I look forward to seeing both of these young men travel across the border to compete with some of the best Americans.

The open tournament attracted 136 entries, spread over six men’s weight classes and two women’s classes. The following summary offers class-by-class highlights.

Women’s 0-150 lbs

In the left hand division, Jodi Larratt took first place, without much effort in a class of just three pullers. She did not pull with the right, as she is not yet ready to return to competition following an injury that occurred at the 2017 WAL Championships. But one puller who did pull in the right hand division is Nancy Locke – winner of the 1987 WPAA World Championships as well as the 1991 Super-Bras-de-Fer tournament in Paris, France. Despite her diminutive size, she showed that she is still a force at the armwrestling table as she took the crown in her class.

Women’s 151+ lbs

Alma Keuhl was the favourite in this class, both left and right, and she performed as expected. Ottawa High Hooker Natasha Batt was able to beat all other opponents, but Alma just had too much power. Alma should do quite well at Nationals.

Men’s 0-150 lbs

Seven men competed in this weight class. Among them were Charles-Antoine Chartrand-Lefebvre, who won a right hand national title in the 63 kg class in 2014, Sylvain Bissonnette, who also won a right hand national title in 2014 in the 70 kg class, and Matt Smith, reigning Ontario provincial champion in the 70 kg class. They proved to be the top pullers, with Sylvain taking first with both arms and Matt and Charles-Antoine each taking a second and third place. Charles-Antoine finished higher with the right, while Matt was runner-up with the left.

Men’s 151-165 lbs

Leading up to the tournament, many predicted the 165s could be the biggest class. But only nine men entered. Sylvain Bissonnette impressed by taking the right hand class. Of the handful of pullers in the tournament who competed in multiple classes, he was the only one who was able to win titles in two different weights. In the left hand class, Will Walsh was untouchable, easily downing the arm of each competitor he faced. Will, also a member of the High Hookers, has traditionally been known as an incredible practice puller, but it seems things may be coming together for him in tournament settings. He is a very legitimate threat to win a national title in a couple of months.

Men’s 166-185 lbs

Part of the reason entries were a bit low in the 165-lb class is that a few guys decided not to bother cutting weight. 14 strong men competed in the 185s. Olivier Larouche-Richard and Mathieu Charbonneau competed in this class, as well as several-time Canadian champions Chris Gobby and Dan Bellefeuille. (Dan is actually a two-time WAF World medalist and may have the record for the youngest person to win a medal at the WAF Worlds in the senior division. He was only 14 when he won a bronze medal at the 1996 World in Virginia Beach.) Olivier and Dan proved to be the cream of the crop on this day, with Olivier taking first with both his left and right, and Dan finishing in the runner-up spot in both classes.

Men’s 186-210 lbs

Allen Ford flashed everyone to finish atop a field of 12 competitors in the right 210 class. Dan Bellefeuille impressed by taking second in this class, in addition to his second place finish in the 185s. In the left hand class, Eric Roussin defeated all comers to take the crown.

Men’s 211-240 lbs

The 240 class only featured a handful of competitors, but it was arguably the toughest class of all. The class included heavy hitters such as four-time national champion Allen Ford, 1993 WAF World champion Steve Morneau, Alexandre Paquette (who is recognized by some as Quebec’s top active puller), reigning Ontario provincial champion with both arms Bill Cameron, and Brenden Lemmon Mulvihill, who seems to be winning just about everything these days. Brenden managed to take the top spot in the right hand class, while Bill impressed all be somewhat easily winning the left hand class.

Men’s 241+ lbs

Due to Devon Larratt entering at the last minute after succumbing to pressure from his kids who wanted to see him pull, the right 241+ class proved to have the most competitors, with 15. As expected, Devon took first with both arms, but there were many strong individuals fighting to place near the top. Those who did best were Alexandre Paquette, Brenden Lemmon Mulvihill, and Justin Major (who also happens to be the current national grip sport champion in the heavyweight class). These three men occupied spots 2 through 4 in both the right and left classes (in different orders).

The Ottawa Open featured top-notch competition, beautiful awards, and cash prizes. What better way to welcome spring!

/ Eric Roussin