There must be something in the Quesnel water that greatly increases the strength of its residents.
Our small city produces some of the top weightlifters and powerlifters in the country, and now our top shoulder buster will be representing Canada at the World Armwrestling Championship in Antalya, Turkey this October.
Angie Rose, 50, lives in Kamloops but spent her formative years in Quesnel.
She recalls her first arm wrestling tournament during Billy Barker Days in the late eighties.
“I won the competition with both arms,” she says.
“I had a feeling I was going to love it anyway, but once I got up and my elbow hit the pad, I felt at home.”
Her mom’s side of the family were all very strong people, according to Rose.
“The Kleins were loggers, so have some history on the coast of B.C.”
Her natural strength allowed her to perform at a high level without much training when she first started. She says she used to stay up until two in the morning before tournaments and still win with minimal work put in.
Since taking a 16-year break to focus on her family and her horses, however, Rose has had to put in a lot of hard work to regain the form she had as a younger woman.
“I do a lot of specialized strength training for the hands, fingers wrists and forearms,” she says, noting that typical gym exercises like bench press and bicep curls don’t quite cut the mustard for getting in peak condition.
Rose utilizes static holds, where she holds the weight as long as she can in one position to improve stamina and strengthen tendons and muscles.
“It helps mentally too,” she says.
“You get in the mindset where you’re going to hold it just a little longer and it’ll push your threshold just that little bit that you need to win.”
Some of the most important training is time spent at the table with fellow arm wrestlers.
Rose says she trains different positions, angles and her hits on the go, which she explains as: “When they say go, you want to hit fast and hard.”
Different techniques are practised time and time again, so they become second nature.
The top roll, made famous in the movie Over the Top, sees her opening up her opponents fingers by rolling her digits over their hands. There is also the hook and the shoulder press.
“You’ve got to learn all the little advantages you can use to get the upper hand,” she says.
The added commitment to the craft paid off this year with a handful of important victories, none more significant than her recent performance at the Canadian Armwrestling championships in Laval, Quebec this summer (June 29-July 1).
Rose won gold medals in both arms in Masters Class (age 40 and older) and Senior Class.
“That was a big win,” she says. “I was only going to go in Masters as I only had to qualify in one category to go to worlds, but I thought I’d go in the [Seniors Class] against the younger girl just to challenge myself.”
Sleep did not come easily the night before the tournament, Rose says. There was a lot on her mind and she says she was restless and a little bit nervous.
When she got to the table, however, the old instincts kicked in.
“You’ve got to push out the negative thoughts,” she says, “and totally focus on what you’re there to do.”
“Every time I go up there I’m thinking, ‘I’m not going to lose, I’m going home with golds and losing isn’t an option.’”
It worked, and now she is heading to the worlds for the very first time, where she will challenge herself against competitors from more than 50 countries.
This isn’t the first time she has qualified, but the expenses of travelling overseas has prevented her from attending.
Thankfully this time around she has the support of a local business.
“My main sponsor is Parallel Welding Fabrication from Quesnel,” she says.
“They’ve been phenomenal and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to go to all these places.”
The timing couldn’t be better.
“If I’m going to do it, it’s got to be this year,” says Rose.
“I’m hoping to bring home gold in both arms. You live life once, so you better grab up the opportunities.”