Naval Officer wins gold at World Arm Wrestling Championships
By Joanie Veitch,
Lt(N) Will Sarty brought home two gold medals for Canada at the World Arm Wrestling Championships in Orlando, Florida last month, winning the top prize in the right-arm matches on September 18, and hitting repeat the following day in the left-arm competition.
He placed silver in overall points and also won Team Canada’s Team Captain Award. Team Canada sent 14 athletes to the international championship event.
“I knew I was strong going into this. I felt really good… it was like everything was in high-definition,” Lt(N) Sarty said. “I felt invincible… at the World’s, being in the right headspace is 60 percent of the game.”
While making it to the podium was Lt(N) Sarty’s goal going to the world championship event, it was a technical snafu that ended up creating the memory he said he will cherish most.
It happened after his first win, on “left-arm day”. Lt(N) Sarty was standing on the podium in the gold-medal spot with two American athletes standing in the bronze and silver spots on either side of him. He had his Canadian flag and was waiting for the national anthem to play — but nothing was happening.
“They didn’t have our national anthem. Whoever wins first, they’re supposed to play the country’s national anthem but they didn’t have it. So I’m just standing there and Team Canada, realizing what’s going on, started to sing the national anthem. They drowned out the whole room,” he said. “It gave me goosebumps. I’ll remember that moment forever, for sure.”
This was Lt(N) Sarty’s fifth time representing Team Canada at the arm wrestling championship, but his first time coming home with gold. After suffering a devastating injury at the world championship in 2013, Lt(N) Sarty was still able to compete, but he was struggling and in so much pain he decided to retire from the sport in 2016.
However, after going through intensive rehabilitation through the PSP Reconditioning program and making some major lifestyle changes — such as beginning a practice of daily yoga and switching to an all-vegan diet — Lt(N) Sarty began to recover. While on deployment in Latvia in early 2020, he felt strong enough to begin arm wrestling again and before long had regained his strength to the point that he began to plan for the 2021 world championships — and taking the top prize.
That goal achieved, Lt(N) Sarty said he won’t compete in the world championships again, planning instead to focus on regional and national competitions, and coaching at his local club in Lower Sackville.
“I love the community aspect of the sport; everyone supports one another. Having gone through injury and being away from competition for so long, it was a good eye-opener for me that there are so many ways to continue to be involved and contribute to the sport,” he said.
Lt(N) Sarty said he’s grateful for the support he received from his unit at 5th Canadian Division, from the financial and administrative support to the backing of his coworkers.
“They were pulling for me. A lot of the division watched the event and were sending me messages…that meant a lot.”