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The pull of the pullers welcomes Jocelyne Brisson to the podium
2024-01-05
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The “pull” of strength sports was all-too-natural for Jocelyne Brisson.

A bronze medal winning shot putter during her time at Collège Notre-Dame, the 32 year-old Sudbury product migrated seamlessly towards the weights and such as the tinge of early adulthood physical fitness re-engagement drifted her way a few years back.

Stationed in Red Lake – population 4,094 – as a teacher in her mid to late twenties, Brisson found comfort in muscle development, partaking in at least a couple of different forms of that training, as fate would have it.

“One of my colleagues from a school I was teaching at was a body builder, her husband a trainer,” recalled the eldest of four girls in the family. “They took the time to introduce me to the lifting world and how to do it properly.”

A subsequent move to Dryden would feature a slight alteration to her workouts.

“I was focused on gaining strength, even dabbled in some Strongmen events, which was a lot of fun.”

But the move back to Sudbury in 2019, the one which eventually settled her into the realm of the “pullers” (as armwrestlers are affectionally known) – well, that only partially tapped into that very core element of her body.

“At the very beginning, I got by on strength alone,” suggested the woman who not only took to armwrestling right from the start, but has continued her ascension to the point of winning gold (right arm) and silver (left arm) at the 2023 Canadian Championships last July on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

“Strength only takes you so far. I like to say it’s 50/50 – technique and strength.”

With all due respect to the legacy of Sudbury Hall of Famer Christine Jaworski, the landscape of women’s armwrestling in Canada is not a particularly congested one – though Brisson has noticed a growth even over the course of her five years in the sport.

Still, there was plenty of reason for her to stay.

“It was something different to try, something interesting – and I was good at it,” said Brisson. “And the (armwrestling) community was very welcoming.”

Blessed with hands that are notably larger than most of her female counterparts, the northerner who tinkered with softball and a bit of swimming in her youth has experienced something of an evolution as she moved from the top roll (technique) to the hook, taking a shot at a few other variations along the way.

“The top roll is where you are least likely for injuries – but the more I progressed, the more I realized that I wanted to be using the hook,” she admitted. “I’m not afraid to go in and take risks.”

And while there is clearly a strong technical component to that strategy, Brisson acknowledged that much of her progress would also come from the shoulders up.

“I think it’s just having the confidence to approach the table in the first place,” she said. “Obviously, the more you win and the more your team talks you up, the more confidence you have going into events.”

An avid traveller by nature, Brisson finds a way to intergrate her love of armwrestling with virtually every expedition she takes. In a world that has seen her attend competitions with zero to just a handful of female opponents in her weight class, the young woman who mirrored her performance from nationals at the 700-entry Ottawa Open in November now must search to find near-equally matched adversaries.

That’s a giant step forward since the time of her first trip to nationals in the summer of 2022 in Winnipeg.

“Lots of learning,” Brisson exclaimed, summarizing in three words her initial foray to meet up with the best in the country. “There are slightly different standards at every competition and when you are up to the national level, they are more nitpicky. Some of the rules that are not observed as closely at some events are enforced there.”

The need to look far and wide for a stiff test on the table also mens that Brisson will have to bypass the 2024 Ontario Championships that are set to take place May 18th in Sudbury.

“I had a decision to make and it broke my heart to do it,” stated the talented puller who will be competing at a North American Invitational tournament that same day in Tennessee. “In order for me to level up and get my name out there, I have to do it.”

The pull was simply too great, one might even say.

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