Lots of muscle competing at Stampede event

  • Jul. 13, 2017 5:30 a.m.

CALGARY — Allison Lockhart is one strong woman.

Actually when it comes to Canada, she is the strong woman.

The 35-year-old Calgary resident has won the Canada’s Strongest Woman competition three times in a row and is one of competitors at this week’s Strongman competition at the Calgary Stampede.

At five feet seven inches and with muscular shoulders and arms, her powerlifting background is obvious.

“I’m a little bit bigger so people usually ask what I do and what sport I play,” Lockhart told The Canadian Press. “They look a little bit confused and then I tell them and usually have to explain what it is.”

She was invited to try the strongwoman competition in 2014 — the first year it was introduced in Canada.

“I came out and tried it and absolutely loved it and it just sort of steamrolled from there,” said Lockhart.

“I want to know how strong I am. I want to know how strong I can get. As far as sports goes, this is just right up my alley. This is just what floats my boat.”

Strongman originated in the U.S. in 1977 with the first “World’s Strongest Man” competition, and the sport has continued to grow since then.

Over the three-day competition, competitors are expected to lift, carry, push, and pull various oddly shaped, large, heavy items — including the truck of the Stampede president — in a race against one another to determine who has the greatest mix of overall strength and athleticism.

The events include the famous atlas stone lift and the bale yoke carry.

“My weakest link is probably the yoke. It’s where you have it across your back and it kind of hangs down along your side and there’s a weight on it and you have to walk,” said Lockhart.

“My strongest event? The atlas stones. Those are the cement stones you pick up and lift on to a podium. The ones in this competition start at about 100 pounds and go up to 260.”

Although the strongwoman competition is growing in popularity, Lockhard said it is much lesser known than the men’s competition.

“It’s not quite as marketable because not a lot of women want to lift really heavy weights,” she said. ”We don’t get that much press so a lot of people don’t know that it exists.”

Lockhart will be joined by fellow Calgarian James Loach who is currently Western Canada’s strongest man. Loach, 29, began his strongman training when he was 24 but it’s something he was always interested in.

“I’ve been watching strongmen on TV and kind of following it since I was four or five years old,” he said.

It’s also a big hit with the science and math junior high school students he teaches in Calgary.

“Some of the boys are pretty starstruck when I tell them what I lift and show them videos. The kids, whether they actually enjoy it or because it’s a break from science or math, seem to like it,” he said.

Loach said he hopes to inspire his young charges to get involved and often holds up Lockhart as a role model to his female students.

“For a lot of kids who struggle with self confidence or body issues, it’s so accessible. You don’t need to rely on anybody but yourself and a gym membership and a good pair of shoes. I kind of hope to set an example.”

The three-day competition begins Friday.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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