Calgary Festival of Strength unites various wightlifting sports

In a unique event, the 2nd annual Calgary Festival of Strength brought together athletes in powerlifting, Olympic-style weight lifting, kettleball sport and strongman competition.

Kaevon Khoozani, one of the festival’s organizers, says that competitive strength events face two challenges in Calgary: small audience size and the cost of renting appropriate facilities. To overcome this, Khoozani says the idea behind the festival was to create an event that would involve several disciplines of weightlifting, with competition in each running concurrently throughout a single evening.

“By combining our forces, we are creating more entertainment value for spectators,” he says. “We came up with this idea to increase the strength scene in Calgary by working together.”

Unlike the better known types of weightlifting, the discipline of kettlebell sport is still developing in Canada. Using a specified lifting style, Charlie Fornelli and others attempted to complete the most number of repetitions possible within a ten-minute timeframe.

Photo by Karry TaylorKhoozani says other hurdles strength events face is the tendency for the public to equate competitive weightlifting with bodybuilding, as well as overcoming common stereotypes about weightlifters.

“We had two men in their 50s competing in strongman at the festival. They both have kids and full-time careers. Kettlebell sport is very popular with retired athletes, and it is getting more popular with women as well,” Khoozani says. “There were also a couple of 13-year-old girls doing their first competition in Olympic (style) weightlifting here.

“It’s a big misconception that it’s just for big meatheads.”

Khoozani himself is a rugby player who also competes in strongman competitions.

He encourages those interested in participating in strength sports as a means to stay in shape to contact local clubs such as Tork Weightlifting Club, Bells of Steel or the Alberta Powerlifting Union.

ktaylor@cjournal.ca