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Pow a world champ in arm wrestling

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Winnipeg has a new world arm wrestling champion -- and she's a 46-year-old single mother.

Lori Pow captured three medals -- two golds and one bronze -- over the weekend at the 30th World Armwrestling Championships in Kelowna, B.C., in what was Pow's first trip to her unique sport's pinnacle event.

"It means the world to me," Pow said Tuesday. "That was one of my dreams and that was one of my goals. And now that I've been there, I know what I've got to do to keep going at this sport."

Pow only competed in four events in Kelowna and her three-medal haul was just one medal short of the all-time record -- men and women -- for medals in a single arm wrestling championships, three golds and one bronze.

Having now gotten her first taste of the worlds, Pow is determined to go back again next year, when the event is held in Italy. She wants, she says, to deal with one last piece of unfinished business.

"My goal next year is to break the world record," Pow said. "I want to get four golds."

Pow won medals back-to-back-to-back on three consecutive days and says now that she was stunned by her success.

"I was just happy to win the first medal. I was surprised I even won that," says Pow. "I was just trying not to come home empty-handed.

"I sure wasn't expecting to win as much as I did."

She's paying a price for it now, however.

"Four straight days of pulling put a huge strain on my poor old body," Pow said in an e-mail Monday, "and (I) had a hard time washing my hair today."

The medal haul was particularly satisfying for Pow because she had to wait so long to finally compete at the worlds. An 11-time Canadian champion and two-time Canadian female arm wrestler of the year, Pow was eligible to compete at the worlds in each of the past three years but was unable to go each time because she didn't have enough money to cover the expenses to get to such far-flung host countries as Japan and South Africa.

Although arm wrestling is hugely popular in many countries and has a global reach that saw countries ranging from Latvia to India, Turkey to Cote d'Ivoire compete in Kelowna, it remains a mostly fringe sport in Canada and consequently receives no government funding and very little corporate sponsorship.

Pow was only able to compete this year because the event was held in Canada for the first time since she's been competing. Her father and sister from Brandon as well as her boyfriend went with her.

Pow says she's determined to raise the necessary funds to compete again in Italy next year.

"I wasn't planning on going originally, but I'm definitely planning to do it now," Pow said. "I'm going to try and get some sponsors and do some fundraising. And I'm going to start saving right now."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 10, 2008 C1

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