Terminally ill strongman athlete competes in the Arnold Sports Festival

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Athletes from across the globe are here in Central Ohio, testing their strength and stamina.

One of them is defeating the odds competing in the Disabled Strongman Championship, despite having lung disease and being tethered to breathing tubes.

Her name is Karen Skålvoll. She came all the way from Norway to compete at The Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus.

“I’m over the moon with joy,” she said.

Skålvoll said people didn’t expect her to make it to her 45th birthday, let alone compete in a strongman event where she carries giant, concrete Atlas stones or pulls over 400 pounds in weight with her bare hands.

“Being the first woman, the first athlete ever on oxygen therapy competing at the Arnold… I just could not turn that down,” she said. “It’s proving that I can still play even though I’m very, very sick.”

Skålvoll said she has a terminal illness, called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency. It’s a lung disease the requires her to use oxygen therapy. She said competing here is a victory over her disease.

“The Arnold means to me that I have paved the way for other athletes to reach beyond what they thought was possible,” she said. “To have been able to rehabilitate to this is more than I ever thought to dream about.”

Her competition begins at 10 a.m. on Sunday inside the Expo hall.

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