A New Hampshire grandmother is taking a break from her job as a bus driver in Sunapee to defend her women's World Armwrestling Championship title.
Cathy Merrill loves her job and the students love her back.
"They are like your kids," Merrill told NBC10 Boston.
But she has to take some time off next week for her other passion: arm wrestling.
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"Arm wrestling isn't just about strength," she said.
The 54-year-old grandmother of five will be competing against other women at the 40th World Armwrestling Championship in Turkey later this month.
Merrill says she's always been strong like this, but never realized her talent until about seven years ago when her boss dared her to compete at the Cornish Fair.
"He said, 'If you win, I'll buy you fries,'" Merrill said, laughing. "Well, I mean, you're not going to not do it for fries."
Since then, Merrill's become no stranger to the stage.
"I have 17 [United States Armwrestling Federation] medals," she said.
She says hearing the national anthem being played in her honor keeps her wanting more.
"When I'm on that podium, the first place box, and I've got our American flag stretched out in front of me, you can't stop the tears," Merrill said. "It's an unbelievable feeling."
Merrill's kids are almost as excited as she is, expecting their bus driver to come back to work a world champion.
"They think it's great, they're like, 'Are you going to bring home medals?' I'm like, 'I'm going to try to bring home the medals.' That's why I'm going," Merrill said.
The Sunapee resident says she never could've imagined having the privilege of traveling the world as a recognized arm wrestler.
"Never in a million years, nope," she said.
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She says her boss and coworkers at the Sunapee School District have been supportive allowing her to take time off for competitions.
"I feel so blessed and fortunate, grateful, thankful for all the people who helped get me here," Merrill said.
She starts four days of competition on Oct. 18. Merrill is hoping to return to bus duty on Oct. 22 with a medal around her neck to show her students.