MIDDLETOWN — Middletown’s internationally famous strong man just racked up another medal and two world records.
And also significantly, said award-winning strength champion Mike Diehl, he may be the first “adaptive athlete” in the world to win corporate sponsorship during last weekend’s contest.
“I competed at The Ragnarok Games in Miami, Fla. It’s an international strongman competition with over 100 athletes from countries all over the globe and I won 1st place in my division and gold for best overall male adaptive athlete,” Diehl said.
“And I was awarded $2,000 for setting two world records. And I also became the very first sponsored athlete of Captain Corps Productions, who were the promoters of The Ragnarok Games. Myself, and Becca Slater from the United Kingdom became the very first adaptive strongman/woman to ever get paid at a competition,” said the former local fireman.
In 2015, the now 6-foot-2, 300-pound father of two, who was a then-Franklin firefighter, lost his right arm in a fire truck accident.
Diehl, who is 42 years old, is a U.S. Navy veteran and former truancy officer with Middletown Schools and former assistant football coach with Madison High School.
In recent years has won international fame as a disabled strongman, which in recent months various competitions are now referring to as adaptive athletes.
He lives and trains in Middletown and has earned gold and silver medals in global competition while competing in Great Britain, Iceland and Canada.
He credited the Captain Corps Production company’s paid sponsorship for having “completely changed the landscape of the sport of strongman forever.”
“We are changing the world’s perception of what it means to be disabled. Adaptive strongmen and women from all over the world have been pushing the boundaries of human performance for over two decades. And (the company) and The Ragnarok Games have just broken down a barrier to equality and inclusiveness.”
On Wednesday a Ukrainian adaptive athlete, who recently traveled from his native country to compete in a strongman contest this week in Columbus, made a special side trip traveling to meet Diehl at his training gym of years, The Powerstation Gym. The athlete said he admired Diehl and wanted to meet him.
“He wanted to train with me. But I’m too beat up from the Miami competition so that was a little disappointing.
Diehl said last weekend’s games “sent a message to the world that adaptive athletes are not ‘disabled’ and you can no longer use their hard work without paying them like the able bodied athletes. We’re changing the world, one rep at a time.”
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