Nunavut’s Drew Bell set a new record in the one-arm reach in front of a packed house at the Fort Smith recreation centre on Monday night.
“I don’t think it’s really set in yet,” said Bell right after winning. “There’s just a lot of emotions going through my mind right now. I didn’t come with an expectation to do that so it’s almost surprising.”
The record-setting reach wasn’t without controversy. On his third and final attempt at 5 foot, 7 inches, Bell propped himself up on one hand and reached out to barely graze the bottom of the sealskin ball before returning to balance himself on two hands without his feet touching the ground to ensure his attempt would count.
At least one of the judges saw him touch the ball, but uncertainty from the other three officials led them to confer in the middle of the gym. After a few tense moments they concluded that the attempt was good.
“There was no doubt in my in mind but the judges have to do their due diligence,” said Bell. “To be honest if they had said no, I would have accepted that. It happens every Games. Something doesn’t go the way you think it will and you just need to move on the next games and keep that positive energy.”
After setting the record, Bell was spurred on by the crowd to go one inch higher but he packed it in after two attempts.
Bell said the one-hand reach has been part of his regular training routine for years but he has rarely been able to reach 5 foot, 7 inches.
“I’ve probably done thousands of these and I can count on one hand how many times I’ve reached that high,” he said. “I was kind of surprised it happened with one of my three attempts here, so I’m pretty excited about that.”
Bell’s record spelled heartbreak for previous record holder Matt Jacobson. The Northwest Territories-born Jacobson, representing the Yukon at his third Games, finished with a silver medal while Akpak Duval from Nunavut took the bronze.