Married couple hooked on the sport of arm wrestling :-: abc net

Related Story: Perils of arm wrestling explained

This married couple has the perfect way to decide who will wash the dishes at night.

Ryan McLaren and Kaleigh Maldonado-McLaren are among Australia's top competitors in the official sport of arm wrestling.

And while they both lift their weight in the kitchen, the romance of holding hands across the table often turns into something a little more competitive.

"We find ourselves in that situation a lot, locking hands romantically, then it turns into an arm wrestle," Ms Maldonado-McLaren said with a laugh.

Kaleigh Maldonado-McLaren, left, arm wrestling against another female competitor.

Ancient challenge becomes international sport

Settling a contest with an arm wrestle appears to have ancient origins — observed through Egyptian tomb drawings — but it seems the international competition of today grew from the first organised contest in a bar in California 60 years ago.

"I didn't realise how professional it was, growing up you have an arm wrestle with your friends, or for me it was my boy cousins, younger brothers," Ms Maldonado-McLaren said.

External Link: Youtube video of Kaleigh armwrestling

She was introduced to the sport through her husband, who took it up after a serious water skiing accident prevented him from playing football and other mainstream sports.

Now the couple compete across Australia and was last year selected for the Australian team that travelled to Bulgaria for the World Armwrestling Championship, the peak international competition involving teams from 76 countries.

Mr McLaren is ranked in the top 10 for his weight division and Ms McLaren currently holds the top Australian ranking for her weight.

The sport has a growing participation base but remains very much a marginal competition with about 200 regular competitors in Australia.

"We do have a few guys who are world class now; four years ago, no, we were way behind the rest of the world but we are getting there," Mr McLaren said.

Arm wrestlers Ryan McLaren, Toby Whateley, Shaleigh Maldonado-McLaren, Tayla Nash and Rohan Symens with fists pumped in a gym.

Developing the sport

From their home in Barmera, in regional South Australia, the McLarens are training others in the sport and hope to raise its profile.

They both love being involved in the development of a sport.

"I'm in a very fortunate place in Australia to be part of a sport that is growing," Ms Maldonado-McLaren said.

"It is just as fulfilling or rewarding to teach people how to use the proper techniques.

"In the world of arm wrestling, for me what I found so brilliant was that people were willing to share information."

A man lifts a set of weights while standing upright.

Arm breaks on live TV

Arm wrestling can cause serious injury.

The sickening moment when ex-footballer Ben Ross broke his arm during a live arm wrestling competition on the NRL Footy Show in 2015 made international headlines.

The humeral fracture — a broken upper arm bone — is the most common fracture seen in wrestling as described in this ABC explainer.

But Mr McLaren said using the correct techniques reduced the risk of injury in any sport.

"It's all about keeping your body square to your arm, if you can keep your arm directly in front of you, your shoulders square, keep your fist in front of your chin and you pull back in a lock position," he said, describing it as a similar action to water skiing.

"When people put their arm on the table and push side ways, that's when you can start torquing your humerus bone and you can do some damage."

Arm wrestler Toby Whately training with a cable in a gym.

Age no barrier

Some of the top competitors in arm wrestling are in their 50s and 60s.

A combination of speed, technique and weight are required to create the perfect arm wrestler.

"It's not just brute strength; it comes down to technique and angles," Mr McLaren said.

Some matches can be over in seconds.

Ms Maldonado-McLaren said her longest match lasted 60 seconds.

"It doesn't seem like a lot but, when you're giving it everything you've got, a minute is a long time," she said, adding that the longest match she had seen lasted eight minutes.

"You could just seen the pain and agony in their faces … it would be as if you were planking for eight minutes, the same concept of a static hold, it's brutal."

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Original Article

ABC .net

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