Middletown strongman places second in international competition

Middletown’s famed strong man fell just short in international competition last weekend in Great Britain but said the raucous crowd — including some of the world’s most powerful athletes — was inspiring.

Former area fireman Mike Diehl battled hard but had to settle for second place in The Arnold’s Disabled Strongman competition, which drew athletes from around the world.

Last year Diehl won the first place at the United Kingdom event, adding to his growing collection of top-medal finishes from matches in recent years from England, Iceland and Canada.

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“The crowd was incredible,” said Diehl, who credited hometown Middletown’s encouragement and funding support from his fans to cover some training and travel expenses as essential for his quest of globally recognized strength.

“The sport of strongman isn’t nearly as popular in the U.S. as it is in Europe. The crowds in England go crazy watching us. It’s incredibly motivating to compete in this setting. They treat us like rock stars,” said Diehl, who lost his right arm in a firetruck accident while working as a firefighter in Franklin.

The silver medal finish in Great Britain was Diehl’s fourth, top-three finish in worldwide competition in the last year.

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The strongman events include extreme tests of strength where athletes compete against each other and the clock to lift, pull and haul hundreds of pounds of weights and even giant stones to win. Often non-disabled international strongmen stars come to the events to join fans in cheering on the competitors.

It was close for the former Madison High School assistant football coach and semi-pro football star.

Diehl lost one timed event by just .02 of a second.

“And as far as winning second place goes, it’s obviously not what I worked for. But I did extremely poorly on two events. However, I had personal bests in the other three events. So all in all it was a good performance, and I’m not overly upset.”

“I’m always very proud to represent my country. It’s an amazing honor, and it is very humbling. Especially with all the support I get back home,” he said.

He gratefully cited Middletown fans and those in the support of those in surrounding communities, saying “the Power Station Gym, is my home away from home and Carol’s Speakeasy Lounge is always there for me and the Miamisburg Moose Lodge contributed greatly.”

“And it is one of my life’s greatest honors to compete at the highest level of disabled strength sports, and I hope to inspire a future generation of disabled strongmen and women to work hard, chase your dreams, and never ever give up.”

“It’s our responsibility to show the world that the only real disability is poor confidence and a bad attitude.”

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