Arnold Sports Festival has host city pumped

The city of Columbus, Ohio, is pumped – for the 30th anniversary edition of the Arnold Sports Festival, named for the world’s most famous bodybuilder-movie star-politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The sports competition and entertainment festival, which begins Thursday, will include bodybuilding and strongman competitions, as well as ax throwing, online gaming, powerlifting and more.

What started in 1989 as a single-day event, attracting about 4,000 spectators, has grown to a four-day weekend drawing 22,000 athletes from 80 nations, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

“We’re always trying to make it bigger and better every year,” festival spokesman Matt Lorz told the newspaper. “There’s something for everybody.”

Well, almost everybody. In January, female bodybuilder Beth Mandyck, of Rochester, N.Y., filed a gender discrimination complaint against the event’s organizers, noting that female bodybuilding events have not been on the schedule since 2013.

“I was aghast that there was no women’s bodybuilding,” she told the Dispatch. “If there’s a category for men, why can’t there be a category for women?”

"I was aghast that there was no women’s bodybuilding. If there’s a category for men, why can’t there be a category for women?”

— Beth Mandyck, bodybuilder

Festival spokesman Brent LaLonde said organizers simply had trouble attracting enough interest in female bodybuilding events.

But the men’s competitions have remained popular enough that the International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness holds similar festivals in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America – with Seoul, South Korea, joining the list this year, the newspaper reported.

But will Schwarzenegger himself show up? It’s very possible, Lorz said.

“He’s always mingling with the fans, going through the expo, stopping through,” Lorz said. “It’s tough in three days to get through 77 events, but he tries.”

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