Sporting goods

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Irked that you can't normally see tae kwon do, bodybuilding, table tennis, boxing and dancesport under one roof? Relax. Your day has come.

Again this year, much of the action will be headquartered at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, which holds the 700-booth Fitness Expo and numerous athletic events accessible with the $10 daily admission. Other events will be held at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the Ohio Expo Center and Nationwide Arena.

It's too much for two eyes. Here are some things not to miss.

Armwrestling Challenge preliminary rounds

10:30 a.m. Friday

Greater Columbus Convention Center

Cost: Free with Expo admission

This annual event is known as "The Mecca of Muscle," which is saying something at a fest full of people who can rend you in twain with a single punch. Top male and female contestants will face off in a day-long battle of biceps that proves a fan favorite every year.

21st Arnold Classic Finals

7 p.m. Saturday

Veterans Memorial Auditorium

Cost: $50-$75

Numerous physique competitions are held during this three-day shindig, but the centerpiece is the Arnold Classic. This event was Arnold Schwarzenegger's dream - the seed that started it all - and bodybuilding's elite flock here because it bears his name. (About $330,000 in prize money and an Audemars Piguet watch don't hurt either.) This year's competition will bring together the world's buffest, including 2007 champion Victor Martinez and Branch Warren, who last year won the Most Muscular Award. Tickets to the prejudging event, held at noon in Vets, also cost $50 and $75.

5K Racewalk

8:30 a.m. Sunday

Greater Columbus Convention Center

Cost: $30 through Saturday, $35 on Sunday to enter; free to watch

You might not be able to participate in powerlifting events, but almost everyone can sign up for the inaugural racewalk, the latest Olympic sport to be added to the festival roster. Racewalking is usually governed by strict technical guidelines, but this will be a friendly, non-judged event with nine age divisions and plenty of prizes. The only rule is no running. Racers will start from the convention center and head through the Arena District and Short North.

FIE Satellite World Cup Finals

8 a.m. Sunday

Greater Columbus Convention Center

Cost: Free with Expo admission

New this year to the Arnold Fencing Classic is a top-caliber sword competition hosted by the International Fencing Federation, which governs the sport. A solid performance in Columbus can improve an athlete's chances of making a national team for the Olympics, so expect these elite male fencers from five continents to bring it during final rounds Sunday morning.

What: Arnold Sports Festival

When: Friday-Sunday, March 6-8