At USS we are always looking for ways to help our athletes advance. So, when the SCL President calls the USS President Willie Wessels, things happen. Gary Piotrowski the 2016 USS MW National Champ got such a chance! The moral of the story is compete well with USS and great opportunities await! Gary will be headed to South Africa to represent USS at an SCL qualifier for 105 Worlds! Here is more from Gary in his own words!
I first stepped into the competitive Strongman arena in 2012. I don't remember how I heard about the competition, but I had grown up watching the likes of Mariusz Pudzianowski and Svend Karlsen compete in Strongman and I knew that it was something I had always wanted to do.
At that point I was no stranger to the iron, I had about 10 years in the gym under my belt throughout high school and college training for both sport and for fun, but this was a whole different game. I walked in that day with zero experience on any of the events. Logs, stones, axles and kegs; my plan was to just figure it out as we went. Surprisingly, it actually worked out pretty well. I ended up having a respectable day and was immediately hooked on the sport, but that doesn't tell the whole story.
I can say without hesitation that the biggest thing that contributed to my success that day was the help of the other competitors. It's pretty apparent when someone doesn't know what they are doing and I was that guy on that day. But during the warmups for every event there was a group of fellow competitors there to give me pointers and show me the best way to approach the implements, and that showed me a side of strongman that really blew me away and stays with me today. The camaraderie and the passion for passing on information is something that I've seen at every competition, no matter how big, and really encompasses what the sport is all about.
I competed casually a few more times after that until I started training for Strongman full-time in 2014. I took the biggest leap of my competitive career last June when I entered USS nationals. I had qualified for nationals twice before that, but really wanted to wait until I was ready to show something before I went. I was finally ready. I went in with goals of getting onto the podium and those goals were exceeded when I won the 220 class and Men's Middleweight Overall.
Now bigger dreams and goals lie ahead. Having the opportunity to compete in South Africa is the realization of one of those, and hopefully I can replicate my success from the past to find another podium finish. I wouldn't be where I was today without support from people around me; my wife, my family and friends, great training partners throughout the years, and I definitely wouldn't be here without the help of my fellow competitors.