He’s trained hard, he’s determined, prepared and focused, and he’s ready to give it his all.
On November 15, Grafton local Chris Owen will compete in the 2020 STIHL Timbersports Virtual Australian Championships, one of the toughest endurance sports in the world.
Held online for the first time in its history due to Covid-19, the competition will see 12 athletes from four states compete against each other and the clock as they chop and saw their way towards $30,000 in prize money, which is being offered in lieu of a ticket to the World Championships due to the global pandemic.
Admitting the competition will be “interesting” this year due to the enforced changes, Mr Owen said he is preparing to “give it his best” after performing well in the qualifying event in 2019.
Mr Owen will be filmed competing at a training arena in Lithgow and says the online competition will test the mental strength of the athletes.
“Doing it virtually means competing without knowing how the other competitors are performing which will also make it difficult to know other times being recorded and what you have to aim to beat,” he said.
“Usually you’re competing alongside each other and you have that motivation, but unfortunately, we won’t have that atmosphere this year.
“It does put a lot of pressure on you, mentally as well, and one hit can mean the difference between finishing first or twelfth.”
Mr Owen and the 11 other competitors, including reigning world champion Brayden Meyer from Victoria, will go head-to-head across six traditional logging disciplines such as the underhand chop, standing block chop, springboard chop, single buck saw, STIHL stock saw and hot saw.
Describing it as a tough and challenging sport, Mr Owen started wood chopping when he was 12 and recalls how his grandfather, a skilled wood chopper himself, would take him to country shows and make him watch the best axemen compete so he could watch their actions and gauge a better understanding of how to use an axe and saw most effectively.
“It was a good way of learning,” Mr Owen said.
“When you’re competing, you have to save energy when you can and exert it when you have to.
“If you exert too much energy in your swing, you won’t have as much power in the finish and that can affect your time and also, your result.
“I’ll be happy as long as I give it my best during the competition.”
The STIHL Timbersports Virtual Australian Championships live stream will air on the STIHL Timbersports Facebook and YouTube channels.
Clarence Valley residents will be able to cheer on their local representative by logging onto https://www.facebook.com/stihltimbersportsAUS and https://www.youtube.com/stihltimbersportsaustralia at 8pm, November 15.