Terminally Ill Athlete Competes in Arnold Strongman Festival


Battling lung disease and being tethered to breathing tubes hasn’t stopped Karen Skalvoll from making history.

The Arnold Classic held its first ever disabled strongman competition where Karen became the first athlete to compete on oxygen therapy.

Not only that, she also deadlifted 125kg to set a new world record in the disabled strongman female standing division.


Karen is battling with a terminal illness called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency, a lung disease where she requires constant oxygen therapy. She said competing is a victory over her disease.

“The Arnold means to me that I have paved the way for other athletes to reach beyond what they thought was possible,” she told NBC News.

“To have been able to rehabilitate to this is more than I ever thought to dream about.”


Coming all the way from Norway to compete in Ohio, Karen said she was told that she wouldn’t make it to her 45th birthday – but now she’s carrying massive, concrete stones and pulling nearly 200kgs with her bare hands.

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