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Written by Mike Turner
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 21:08
SALISBURY powerlifter Neil Arnold was crowned world champion on Tuesday after an extraordinary day at Bournemouth's BIC.
The 44-year-old started the opening day of the 2009 World Championships in style setting a new British squat record of 300kg.
He then went for a European record only to tear a calf muscle which put his involvement in the rest of the competition in the 82.5kg class at risk.
Constant physio on his injured right leg helped keep the pain at bay, but the athlete, who returned to the sport only last year after five years in retirement, had to completely rethink his strategy if he was to stay in the medal hunt.
Realising he would only be able to manage one attempt at the bench press, he banked 170kg which helped keep the pressure on his rivals.
Arnold again went through the pain barrier with his deadlift - calculating that 170kg - the lowest weight he'd ever attempted in competitive powerlifting, might just be enough to take gold.
But the former British and European champion need not have worried - his combined total of 640kg indeed handed him the one title that had eluded him all of his career.
"It's a great feeling, but I'm a very lucky man," Arnold told Sport4Salisbury.
"My set of titles is finally complete - British, European and now world champion!"
Arnold accepts that his injury will keep him out of action for at least six weeks, but believes it is a price well worth paying.
"If it had happened during the British Championships, it would have ruled me out of the Worlds. So better for it to happen now if it was going to happen.
"I'm still in shock though - I really thought I'd lost my chance.
"I went for the European record and felt a little cramping in my right leg. I'd ripped a hole in my calf.
"Thankfully the physio kept it at bay, working on it all afternoon.
"My calf was bleeding during the deadlift. It was a very fraught day."
Arnold paid tribute to two fellow Salisbury powerlifters, who were on hand to help keep him focussed on his goal.
Fellow British team mate, Paul Newell - who competes at the championships on Saturday in the 100kg class - and legendary lifter Bill West, were a constant inspiration.
"They were brilliant. I couldn't have had two better people in my corner. They were with me all day keeping me calm and focussed on what I had to do. I really saw it going away from me, but they helped me get through the day."
World champion Neil Arnold in action in Bournemouth.
Photos by Austin Caley and Steve Bennett-Arnold
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 November 2009 23:47