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The Siberian Power Show (SPS), which featured a very strong lineup in 2021 and planned to have multiple American competitors such as Wesley Claborn and Gabriel Peña this year, has now officially confirmed that no international athletes will be able to make it to Krasnoyarsk in just under two weeks' time.

Getting in and out of Russia has become very difficult following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in late February. The Russian strongman champion, Evgeny Markov, was able to travel abroad for the Arnold Strongman Classic earlier in March, but he has lost his invite to Europe's Strongest Man due to the travel restrictions. Markov will also be unable to make it to World's Strongest Man, in May.

A Logistical Nightmare

The situation is difficult to accept for promoter Denis Kiyutsin, who wanted to build on last year's success at the SPS. Kiyutsin and his team had planned a contest featuring 5 Americans and 5 Russians to play on the old Cold War theme, months before the international situation soured. Iran's Peiman Maheripour was also supposed to be there in order to challenge the Max Deadlift world record.

Now, it will be a lineup of 10 very strong Russians, but the organizers know that the SPS will not draw the international attention it normally would have. "Denis didn't cancel the tournament although he could have! He invests his money in the organization from year to year [...] and he dreamed of making an incredible show, now he has to change absolutely everything", bemoans Kseniya Kovalchuk, who is also part of the organizing team.

For those interested, the Siberian Power Show can be watched here.

The competition features 25-year-old phenom David Shamey, who tied Travis Ortmayer on points at the SPS last year. Shamey is the favourite to win and should do extremely well in the Dumbbell Press. 130 kg could well fly up! Another athlete to look out for is Ivan Makarov, who will challenge the deadlift world record. Last year, Makarov managed 475 kg at the World Deadlift Championships.

If you were a hardcore fan of strongman in the mid-2000s, you probably heard about the World Strongman Cup (WSMC) Federation. Although its existence was brief (founded in 2004, it folded and was replaced by the World Strongman Federation at the end of 2007), WSMC aired on television in many countries and it attracted athletes such as Mariusz Pudzianowski, Vasyl Virastyuk, Terry Hollands and Janne Virtanen.

Entering the 2007 strongman season, WSMC had held competitions in 13 countries and had plans to explore one more. Its first contest of 2007, scheduled for March 15-16, would be held on Kish Island, 19 km southwest of mainland Iran. This would be a historic contest in many ways: it would be the first international strongman competition to take place in Iran. A few years prior, in 2002, IFSA had tried to set up an international Grand Prix on Kish Island, but the project fell through.

This time, though, the contest would happen. WSMC had made arrangements with local promoters, and it was bringing over some of the best strongmen in the world at the time, including 4 World’s Strongest Man finalists from the previous year: Pudzianowski, Mark Felix, Tarmo Mitt and Raivis Vidzis all made the trip to Iran. In fact, it would be a whopping lineup of 21 athletes who would face a total of 8 events.

Excluding the 3 Iranian athletes, the men travelled some long distances to get to the competition, many of them having to pay for their flight before getting a refund along with their prize money at the end of the show. Still, the competitors were greeted by some beautiful sights. After all, Kish Island is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in the Middle East.

The strongmen arrived in Iran on Tuesday, March 13, two days before the start of the competition. This would give them some time to test the equipment and adjust to the jet lag before the Truck Pull, on Thursday morning.

No Money, No Equipment

Some questions began to be raised by the competitors as, on the eve of the beginning of the contest, there was no equipment. The following day… still no equipment, which meant that the WSMC competition would be pushed back to March 16-17. Concerns grew among the athletes. "Nobody told us anything," Arild Haugen recounted to IronMind a few days later.

On Friday, March 16, the implements finally arrived. However, the strongmen were getting increasingly worried about the money promised to them, and they decided that they would only do 2 events before stopping if the money didn’t materialize.

One Lift Too Many

The opening event was the Truck Pull. As usual for WSMC competitions, it was quite light and the athletes all finished the course in under 33 seconds. Mariusz Pudzianowski took the early lead with a time of 21.23, but Tarmo Mitt just edged him out by finishing in 21.12 seconds. Dominic Filiou nearly stole the win, but he settled for second place, 0.07 seconds behind Mitt. Ralf Ber and Rene Minkwitz also finished in under 22 seconds, while a young Mark Felix (only 40 years old at the time) was classified 11th.

Afterwards, the 21 athletes took on the Log Lift: 130 kg for reps in 75 seconds. Sadly, the results for this event did not survive the test of time, and Strongman Archives was not able to find the scores. However, we do know what happened next…

The Iranian fans were quite enthusiastic about the strongman competition, and they were excited to meet the international athletes for the first time. After the Log Lift, two young Iranian women approached Arild Haugen and asked for a photo with him. The 21-year-old Norwegian happily obliged, lifting the women up for a photo. Unfortunately, such interactions are not tolerated in Iran. "The police grabbed the girls and put them straight in jail", Haugen told IronMind.

The contest was stopped by the police - even before the athletes had had time to put an end to it themselves - and the Iranian promoter was taken to jail along with the two women. He would be released a day later.

Haugen, meanwhile, had to write an apology for the police and was told to sign it "Arild Stupid Haugen", in order to avoid being arrested (!). The competitors and WSMC officials quickly left Iran and the federation’s following contest, in Dubai, was cancelled.

WSMC’s season finally officially started in Latvia, on May 13. Before the competition, WSCF Manager Vlad Redkin told IronMind that "the Iranian stage was a little mistake; all normal men understand this."

However, the two events on Kish Island left their mark on the athletes. Back then, a competitor recalled Iranians telling athletes: "Please tell the world we need help."

Arild Haugen never competed with the WSMC federation again, but the other strongmen were undeterred: 14 of them entered at least one other WSMC contest before it became the World Strongman Federation, later in 2007.

With Mateusz Kieliszowski’s withdrawal due to a hip injury, Martins Licis was the overwhelming favourite going into the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic. The Dragon then proceeded to overwhelm the opposition throughout the contest, delivering a methodical performance like only he knows how.

Just like at the 2021 Rogue Invitational, Licis did not win an event until the very last test… which he did not even need to win outright as he had a sufficient lead after four events. The resident of California amassed points with great regularity, finishing in the top 4 places in every single event.

In the opening discipline, the Double T Squat, Licis squatted 956 pounds, which left him just behind Rob Kearney and event winner Jean-François Caron, who made 966 pounds look easy in a dominant display of leg power.

The athletes had a maximum of three attempts, and some were perhaps too conservative: 7 of 10 competitors were successful in all of their lifts. This was not the case for Luke Stoltman, who attempted to jump from 816 to 906 pounds and was unsuccessful, leaving him in last place in the event in spite of the fact that he looked stronger than other athletes on lighter weights. Oleksii Novikov, meanwhile, just managed 906 and got off to a good start.

Novikov then took advantage of his favourite event, the Dumbbell Press, to make up some ground. The Ukrainian, who received a standing ovation as he carried his country’s flag, managed an incredible 7 reps with the 125 kg implement.

"I really appreciate the American people and [the] whole world who support Ukraine now, because it’s very important at this moment", Novikov told presenter Kiki Dickson.

Rob Kearney was able to get 4 reps for second place, giving him the overall lead, while Luke Stoltman, Evgeny Markov and Martins Licis all got 3. Surprisingly, four athletes failed to press the dumbbell.

The next event, the Austrian Oak, saw a great battle between Luke Stoltman, Bobby Thompson and Trey Mitchell, all of them needing to make up some ground. Stoltman prevailed with a 470-pound lift, Thompson just failing at 480.

The leading trio also battled hard, but Kearney had to stop at 420 pounds as he is still in the process of recovering from a tricep injury sustained in 2020. Novikov tried 440 but couldn’t quite lock it out, while Licis pressed it to cut Kearney’s lead to half a point.

In the Timber Carry, Kearney knew he was going to struggle - at least, he was able to move the frame a few feet this year, which was not too disappointing for him. Novikov nearly completed the course, while Licis did it with no drops to take a 2.5-point lead overall, but it was Maxime Boudreault who shone through by finishing the event in 8.41 seconds to earn his first ASC event victory.

The Stone to Shoulder was a spectacular show, although it started slowly with multiple men failing to break ground. Trey Mitchell almost got a rep but could not stabilize the boulder on his shoulder. Bobby Thompson wowed the crowd by becoming the first man to complete a lift. Then, Oleksii Novikov looked like he would have to settle for a single lap, but he was able to drive the stone up to his shoulder with seconds to spare, drawing a new ovation.

Still, this event belonged to Licis, who, along with Kieliszkowski, is the only man in the world to have lifted this 186 kg stone to his shoulder multiple times in 150 seconds. Licis did it twice and made it look easy, securing his maiden Arnold Strongman Classic title.

Behind him, Novikov was able to take second place, and his prize purse was increased from $25,000 to $80,000 to support the war efforts in Ukraine. Novikov later confirmed that the entirety of the money would be used to buy "armor, helmets and drones, thermal imagers and other necessities" for the Ukrainian troops.

Luke Stoltman and Bobby Thompson tied for third place. Stoltman became the second athlete from the United Kingdom to finish on the podium (Glenn Ross was the other). Rob Kearney had to be satisfied with fifth - these were career-best results at the ASC for the first 9 athletes.

Caron’s Career in Jeopardy

Sadly, an incident during the Austrian Oak put a damper over the weekend. Canada’s Jean-François Caron was attempting to press a 420-pound log for his final attempt, but his knees buckled under him and the log then fell on top of his legs. The competition was stopped for over 45 minutes as the platform was dismantled to allow Caron’s safe transportation. He was carried out on a stretcher.

It was later confirmed that both of Caron’s quadriceps tendons completely broke. He was operated on by surgeons in Columbus on Sunday and both tendons were successfully reattached. However, he now has a long road ahead.

"The rehabilitation period will take at least a year, we’ll see, as the doctor told me. At 39, I knew it could happen to me at any time. At every competition, there was a chance of [a major injury] happening", Caron explained to Québec newspaper Le Soleil.

The 9-time Canadian champion should be on his way back home via an air ambulance on Wednesday.

Pro Strongwoman: Long Too Strong

Victoria Long delivered a clinical performance in spite of Andrea Thompson’s best efforts during the fifth edition of the Arnold Pro Strongwoman competition. Long earned 54.5 out of a possible 60 points, giving her a 9-point win. She notably won the Wheelbarrow Carry, Bag Over Bar and Yoke Ladder.

Thompson finished second but won the Hummer Tire Deadlift in spectacular fashion with a total of 800 pounds. She also dominated the Viking Press, getting six more reps than any other athletes - a very strong showing from the 2018 World’s Strongest Woman.

The competition featured a close-fought battle for 3rd place, with two athletes finishing in a tie. Unlike the Arnold Strongman Classic, countback was used to separate Hannah Linzay and Olga Liashchuk, with Linzay earning the final podium spot ahead of the two-time Arnold Pro Strongwoman champion. Melissa Peacock, who won the middleweight category in 2020, finished fifth.

Entering this week, the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC) was set to be one of the best ones yet. With no former champions in the lineup, strongman fans were guaranteed to see a new athlete on top of the podium. 2020 runner-up Mateusz Kieliszkowski was the odds-on favourite… but yesterday, Strongman Polska announced that Kieliszkowski would be forced to pull out of the Arnold Strongman Classic due to a hip injury.

2019 runner-up Martins Licis, who won the Rogue Invitational last year, is now the man with a target on his back. Still, with some entirely new events such as the Max Squat, can we really know what’s going to happen?

Day 1 Events

Max Squat: The Arnold Strongman Classic kicks off with this rarely seen event in strongman, which used to be contested in the 1980s World’s Strongest Man competitions before falling out of favour. We have seen most of the ASC athletes take part in squat events for repetitions before, but never for max weight.

Martins Licis, who won the Squat Lift at the 2019 World’s Strongest Man Final, should do well here, but Rob Kearney, Jean-François Caron and Bobby Thompson have all looked very impressive in training. However, with this being a new event, expect to be surprised!

The event will be contested on the brand new Double T Barbell, a curved implement which looks similar to a Duffalo bar. Designed by former powerlifter Louie Simmons and made by Rogue Fitness, the bar is named after Dr. Terry Todd, founder of the Arnold Strongman Classic. The athletes will have 3 attempts and will choose their own weights.

Dumbbell Press: With a 125 kg / 275 lb implement, this is the second heaviest Dumbbell Press for reps event recorded on Strongman Archives. There have been heavier dumbbells lifted as part of medleys, but only once has a heavier weight been done for reps. That was at the 2016 Arnold Strongman Classic, when Brian Shaw won the event by pressing 136 kg / 300 lb for 3 reps.

Oleksii Novikov is always the man to watch in dumbbell-related events… Novikov has not lost such an event since the 2020 ASC, where he was beaten by Kieliszkowski. The Ukrainian managed 136 kg as part of a medley at the 2021 Rogue Invitational to win the event easily. Newcomer Evgeny Markov is another dumbbell specialist - he has done 130 kg for 5 reps in training - and Trey Mitchell will also be expecting big points in this discipline.

Day 2 Events

Max Log Lift: With 5 men who have pressed more than 200 kg / 441 lb in competition before, we could see some massive weights being lifted here.

Luke Stoltman, who managed 215 kg at last year’s World’s Strongest Man Final, will be one to watch, but Bobby Thompson, Trey Mitchell and Maxime Boudreault were all hot on his heels in that contest… These four could all be above the 450-pound threshold on Saturday afternoon.

Timber Carry: An ASC staple, this event features a 400 kg / 882 lb frame to be carried up a 35-foot ramp. Completing the Timber Carry is a notoriously difficult feat: in 2020, only 3 athletes managed it.

With Mateusz Kieliszkowski’s absence, this event could go either way. Martins Licis finished the Timber Carry in 17.37 seconds in 2020, but Maxime Boudreault is known for his speed in such events. Two years ago, in Santa Monica, Boudreault edged out Licis by just under a second in a very heavy Farmer’s Walk. The Timber Carry could be a make or break event for Tom Stoltman. The Scot is known for having issues with his grip, but he annihilated the frame at World’s Strongest Man last year, showing a tremendous improvement.

Stone to Shoulder: Just like the Timber Carry, the Stone to Shoulder is normally a banker event for Mateusz Kieliszkowski… and just like the Timber Carry, Martins Licis stands to benefit from Kieliszkowski’s withdrawal.

Licis is the only man besides Kieliszkowski to have done multiple reps with the massive 186 kg / 410 lb natural stone in the past. Tom Stoltman, Trey Mitchell and Maxime Boudreault are all tremendous stone lifters, but they have never touched this particular boulder before.

With so many unknown quantities, no former champions and 5 newcomers, this year’s Arnold Strongman Classic could be unforgettable. Tune in to the Rogue Fitness YouTube channel on Friday and Saturday, and make sure to follow along on Strongman Archives!

Tom Stoltman took his second consecutive Britain's Strongest Man title on Saturday, and he did so in dominant fashion.

Stoltman earned 53.5 of a possible 55 points, winning every event except for the Sandbag Toss - he also tied with Adam Bishop in the Deadlift for reps.

With 97.2% of the maximum total, this is, without a doubt, the most dominant performance in Britain's Strongest Man history. Last year, Stoltman had amassed 46 out of a possible 50 points (92%).

Behind him, Pa O'Dwyer became the first representative of the Republic of Ireland to finish on the podium at Britain's Strongest Man. This guarantees O'Dwyer a place at World's Strongest Man in May. The Irishman's previous best BSM result was 5th place last year.

It was not surprising to see Adam Bishop on the podium, but the next man wowed many fans: Shane Flowers, a relative novice in strongman, won the Sandbag Toss and almost made the top 3. This could well have earned Flowers a place at World's Strongest Man.

Sadly, Luke Stoltman was forced to withdraw after the Deadlift because of muscle spasms in his left leg. Stoltman, like his brother, will be back in action this weekend at the Arnold Strongman Classic! Strongman Archives will be previewing this contest later in the week.

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