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Arnold Sports Festival returns to full capacity

Arnold Sports Festival

In early March 2020, the Arnold Sports Festival became the first major event in Columbus to fall victim to the Coronavirus. The event was shut down just two days before it began. Organizers couldn’t host the expo or have spectators at most competitions.

Attorney Brian Powers is Executive Director of the Arnold Sports Festival, stepping in mid-2021 when many things were still partially shut-down.

“So certainly, lots of symbolism here. Lots of excitement around being one of the large events that's come back indoors, to host for this audience who's been so loyal to us, and our exhibitors who've been super loyal to us. We're looking to put on a fantastic show for everyone involved, “ said Powers, an attorney, who is based in New Jersey.

Arnold 2022 is expected to attract as many as twenty thousand athletes from 40 countries competing in 60 different sports, everything from bodybuilding and fitness to a slapping boxing contest. The city of Columbus is expected to rake in up to fifty million dollars during the 4-day event.

“I think it helps kind of reinvigorate these restaurants, these bars, you know, the hospitality community. Both the hotels and the restaurants. We bring a lot to the city, and they give a lot back. So, it's a great partnership,“ he said.

World Champion Bodybuilder, successful businessman and the 38th Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, who began lifting weights at 15-years-old and went on to win Mr. Olympia 7 times, brought the festival to Columbus back in 1989 after making trips to the capital city back in the mid-seventies for competitions.

Schwarzenegger told the media during a zoom news conference the growth and achievements of the event are only possible because of the hard work of so many.

“None of this happens just because my name is on it. It's not me alone. It is thousands of people that work on this. And they work throughout the year to put this together," said Schwarzenegger, who many call 'the Governoranator' for his many roles as the Terminator in the movie series.

Mike Davies is a local physique coach. Through his training, 327 people have turned professional. Davies is not just an ordinary coach, he coaches Champions. He currently coaches one of the top men's classic bodybuilders in the world, and under his tutelage, 12 women have been crowned Miss Olympia in fitness.

“Only 2% of all Americans workout," said the coach who has been honing his craft for 30 years.

Davies’ athletes live in the gym. He said those committed to the sport consider it a lifestyle.

“It's amazing what happens when somebody actually believes in yourself. I tell him all the time, it's a blind faith thing. You have faith that I know what I'm doing. I have faith that you're doing what I ask. When those two things come together, it builds champions,“ he said.

The commitment, dedication and drive it takes to win is something Brandon Curry knows all too well. In 2019, the Nashville native won the Arnold Classic and Mr. Olympia and is back this year to try to take back his title after finishing second to the current Mr. Olympia.

“One of the big motivators for doing all of this year is creating the legacy of being the first guy to win the Arnold and the Olympia twice. So I want to do that as well. I'm looking forward to all the fans coming out, all the love, being able to perform and have a good time, and just making it like old times again at the Arnold Classic, man. I've been going to the Arnold classic since 2007 before I even thought about really being a professional bodybuilder,” said Curry.

For Arnold, above all else, it's about continuing to build a lasting legacy after a slight pause of sorts here in the Buckeye State.

“All these years later, 52 years later, here we are still in Columbus, Ohio, still promoting the competitions, and it's growing and growing and growing. I think the bottom line is that this year, we are back, because the Coronavirus now has been reduced down to such an extent that they can come again and all get together and compete and watch and judge and celebrate health and fitness," said Schwarzenegger.

Williams was a reporter for WOSU. Natasha is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and has more than 20 years of television news and radio experience.