Latest Strongman News

Only a few days before the 2021 Europe’s Strongest Man competition, world champion Tom Stoltman had to pull out, having tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately for the Stoltman family and for Scottish pride, his older brother Luke Stoltman was there to carry the flag.

Luke showed that he was in strong form by tying for the win in the opening event, the Max Log Lift, with Graham Hicks on 195 kg. He was then able to maintain the lead for the rest of the contest with a consistent performance: Stoltman took 2nd place in three of the four remaining events.

"I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years, and I feel the most privileged… the happiest I’ve ever felt, right now", Stoltman said before laughing in delight after the Atlas Stones.

Unbelievably, this was Luke Stoltman’s first international title! The Highland Oak used to spend long periods of time working offshore on oil rigs before quitting his job in 2020, which has greatly helped his performances in strongman.

Stoltman edged out the 2020 World’s Strongest Man, Oleksii Novikov, by only 1.5 points when all was said and done. Novikov lost multiple points in the 200 kg Shield Carry for distance and, despite winning the Car Walk and the Atlas Stones, the Ukrainian was unable to catch up. He was still enjoying himself a lot, and it was clear to see when he congratulated Luke Stoltman after the Atlas Stones.

Graham Hicks was able to take his second career Europe’s Strongest Man podium, and his first since 2014, by holding off Rauno Heinla. The Estonian was not disappointed as he got some good news after the competition.

"This time I got an answer, they will invite me to the 2022 WSM. We will see!" Heinla wrote on Instagram.

The two residents of Ireland, Marius Lalas and Pa O’Dwyer, tied for 5th place overall, only 2.5 points off the podium.

A Difficult Log Lift

The World Log Lift Championships, featuring Cheick Sanou, were highly anticipated… But sadly, it wasn’t to be. Sanou missed his connecting flight in Paris and was in a taxi during the Max Log Lift.

Meanwhile, the opening weight of 180 kg was a massive struggle for the athletes. The first 7 competitors to try the log all failed! Rauno Heinla and Adam Bishop came very close to locking it out, but could not quite control it - Bishop was even thrown backwards when he dropped the log.

On-site commentator Bill Kazmaier speculated that these misses may have been caused by the bright arena lights shining in the athletes’ faces. Multiple athletes who failed the opening weight had managed 180 kg in the past. This was notably the case for Rauno Heinla, Adam Bishop, Johnny Hansson and Pa O’Dwyer.

Therefore, only 3 men registered a lift! Luke Stoltman and Graham Hicks both completed 195 kg, while Oleksii Novikov successfully locked out 180 kg and wisely stopped there. Hicks opted not to attempt 207.5 kg while Stoltman did so twice, but it just wasn’t in the cards on Saturday.

What’s Next?

The athletes will be able to rest up this week, but they will be back on the grind very soon. On Friday, September 17, at the WUS Dubai show, Mateusz Kieliszkowski will be making his return to competition after an 18-month absence. He will face elite athletes such as Oleksii Novikov, Jean-François Caron and Rauno Heinla, among others. The strongest women in the world will also be taking part in the inaugural World’s Ultimate Strongwoman competition. Strongman Archives will be following both contests!

Just a day later, on September 18, Giants Live will head to Glasgow, Scotland for the World Tour Finals. Tom and Luke Stoltman will both be there, squaring off against international challengers including Maxime Boudreault, Trey Mitchell, Evan Singleton and Kevin Faires.

After 7 of 8 events at the second Shaw Classic, it was all to play for. Jean-François Caron, Trey Mitchell and Brian Shaw had to face one final challenge: 5 Atlas stones, ranging from 159 to 204 kg. In the end, Caron had nothing left, while Mitchell made it look ridiculously easy, finishing the set in just over 28 seconds to claim the biggest title of his career, 3 points ahead of legendary strongman Brian Shaw.

Mitchell had put himself in a great spot early on. The Texan led the overall standings after each of the first five events before his grip gave up on him in the Power Medley. Mitchell notably tied with Bobby Thompson for the win in the Max Log Lift with 455 lb / 206 kg. He then continued scoring big points in each discipline except the Power Medley, culminating with what seemed like an easy win in the Atlas Stones. Mitchell is well known for his prowess in stone lifting events. In 2019, he defeated future World’s Strongest Man champion Oleksii Novikov in a thrilling Last Man Standing battle.

The Title Leaves Colorado

The founder of the Shaw Classic, 4-time World’s Strongest Man title winner Brian Shaw, had taken a great win last year and he was the favourite going into this year’s edition. However, the big man from Colorado came just a bit short this time around. Shaw surprisingly failed the 420 lb log in the opening event – last year, he had managed 440 lb.

There is no doubt that all the work behind the scenes took its toll on Shaw, who finished 2nd in this year’s World’s Strongest Man contest behind Great Britain’s Tom Stoltman. Shaw was still very consistent throughout the show, accumulating 101.5 points despite not winning a single event over the weekend.

Close Call for Caron

9-time Canadian champion Jean-François Caron came into the contest after recovering from a serious hamstring tear sustained in this year’s World’s Strongest Man competition. Very few pundits were picking him to win the show, but Caron was able to put himself in the lead with only the Atlas Stones remaining.

Caron performed exceptionally well in multiple events. Although he did not break his world record of 1202 lb in the Hummer Tire Deadlift, the resident of Les Hauteurs did enough to tie for the event win with Adam Bishop. Caron, who managed to finish 3rd at the 2020 World’s Strongest Man contest, was one of only four men to complete the Power Medley before getting third place in the Dumbbell Press. Sadly for him, he was clearly in pain during the Atlas Stones and could not perform as well as he would have wanted, leaving him on 99 points.

A Brutal Show

Caron was not the only athlete to finish the weekend in pain. Evan Singleton, who had won the Giants Live World Open less than two weeks before the Shaw Classic, had to skip the Car Squat due to a hamstring issue. Singleton still won three individual events and finished 5th, just behind an impressive Kevin Faires.

Bobby Thompson, who finished 6th overall, suffered a proximal bicep tendon injury while going for his first repetition in the Dumbbell Press… but, being the warrior that he is, Thompson was still able to complete 3 reps in spite of the pain.

Konstantine Janashia also had a tough go after pinching a nerve in his lower back. Janashia had difficulty walking to the various implements, but he still finished the show.

This was sadly not the case for veterans Žydrūnas Savickas and Mikhail Shivlyakov, who both had to withdraw early. Meanwhile, Graham Hicks and Jerry Pritchett were unable to perform certain events due to past injuries flaring up.

The Shaw Classic was certainly a grueling show, and many participants will have to take some time to heal up. However, Adam Bishop and Graham Hicks are both competing at Europe’s Strongest Man on Saturday in Leeds, England – a very quick turnaround for these two British athletes!

Completing one strongman competition is no easy task... but finishing a contest and then driving 11 hours during the night to try to defend your national title is just not feasible. Pavlo Kordiyaka now knows all about it.

The 2020 Ukraine's Strongest Man champion had not entered a competition this year due to a nagging lower back injury when he decided to accept an invite to the Marijampolė International in Lithuania on Saturday, August 21. Kordiyaka is used to competing in Marijampolė, having taken 3rd place in the 2019 edition of the show.

After confirming his presence in Lithuania, Kordiyaka got word that the Ukraine's Strongest Man contest had been moved forward to Sunday, August 22.

"The Ukrainian federation changed the dates… I chose to try!" Kordiyaka told Strongman Archives.

Although he defeated Oleksii Novikov in 2020, Kordiyaka needs the exposure – the Ukrainian has not gotten many international invites over the years. The Marijampolė International is also a great stepping stone for Eastern European athletes: Aivars Šmaukstelis, Oleksii Novikov and Ivan Makarov are some of the strongmen who have thrived in Marijampolė before getting bigger opportunities.

2,000 Kilometres Behind the Wheel

Therefore, Pavlo Kordiyaka left his hometown of Lviv and drove 9 hours to Marijampolė in order to compete last Saturday. Kordiyaka did very well, finishing 2nd overall despite not getting a rep in the Deadlift due to his back injury. The competition was won by local hero Audrius Jokūbaitis, while former World's Strongest Man competitors Dainis Zageris and Ervin Toots struggled, the latter being forced to withdraw due to injury.

After the show, Kordiyaka accepted his trophy and quickly left! He had to drive over 11 hours to the small village of Slavske, in southwestern Ukraine, in order to try to defend his Ukraine's Strongest Man title early in the afternoon.

Unfortunately for Kordiyaka, it did not work out as well as he had hoped. He struggled in the opening events and withdrew, telling Strongman Archives that he was "extremely exhausted". With four-time champion Oleksii Novikov also unable to compete, veteran Oleksandr Kochergin dominated the show, winning five of six events.

Future Plans

Despite losing his national crown, Kordiyaka is far from disappointed. The 26-year-old has more contests planned, including the Savickas Classic in September, the Emirates Strongest Man contest in October and the Official Strongman Games in November. A top-2 finish in Dubai would earn him a WUS spot for 2022, while a top-3 finish in the Official Strongman Games would give him a guaranteed Giants Live invite.

Only three weeks after the Giants Live Strongman Classic, some of the best international athletes were back in action on Sunday at the Giants Live World Open. Although the show was very different, the usual suspects found themselves at the top of the standings... But this time, Evan Singleton reigned supreme.

World Deadlift Championships

The evening started with the World Deadlift Championships. With the unfortunate withdrawals of Peiman Maheripour and Asko Karu, all eyes were on Pavlo Nakonechnyy and Ivan Makarov in this event, where the athletes were chasing the 505 kg mark.

Despite Nakonechnyy and Makarov both failing to break the Max Deadlift world record, the event was highly entertaining, with seven men completing a 453.5 kg / 1,000 lb lift - a personal best for six of them. In the end, Ivan Makarov took the win with 475 kg, Nakonechnyy having skipped that weight to save energy for his 505 kg attempt.

The three men who would eventually reach the podium in Manchester - Evan Singleton, Adam Bishop and Oleksii Novikov - all managed the 453.5 kg weight.

On With the Show

In the Carry & Drag, all three of them set blistering times, but Singleton was quite a bit faster, sprinting through the course in 27.38 seconds for the win, just under four seconds ahead of Bishop.

24-year-old Pavlo Nakonechnyy wowed the crowd again in this event. The Ukrainian was well ahead of Adam Bishop's pace, but he fell multiple times and ended up losing a shoe, which cost him a lot of time in the chain drag.

Nakonechnyy was expecting big points in the Viking Press, but his 9 reps weren't enough to impress the top three men. Novikov took the lead with 11 reps before Bishop matched him and almost got a twelfth lift, had it not been for his triceps failing him. However, it was all Singleton again. The resident of Kentucky managed 12 easy reps, and looked like he had more in the tank.

The 30 kg Front Hold finally shook up the order a bit, with Gabriel Peña of Texas taking the win with a time of 46.85 seconds. Novikov and Singleton were not far behind but Bishop slipped a bit in this event, meaning that the podium places looked like this going into the Atlas Stones: Singleton 35, Novikov 32.5, Bishop 30.5.

Five stones ranging from 100 to 180 kg are no joke, but it may be time for Giants Live to roll in a heavier rock. Apart from deadlift specialist Ivan Makarov, the nine other athletes completed the set in under 30 seconds.

Newcomer Nakonechnyy made the stones look tremendously easy (19.76 seconds), and he gave his first interview afterwards. The young Ukrainian seemed to enjoy the loud British crowd... Could this successfull experience sway him away from powerlifting? To the delight of strongman fans around the world, it seems like the answer is yes.

"Now, [my focus] is only on strongman... and on the deadlift world record", he said.

Adam Bishop then stepped up and beat Nakonechnyy by just under one second, but it was not enough to win the whole show as Singleton and Novikov both finished in under 21 seconds. Still, Bishop was able to leapfrog Novikov for the runner-up position in Manchester.

For Evan Singleton, it was a first international competition victory since the 2019 Giants Live North American Open, just over two years ago. Master of ceremonies Neil Pickup asked the American when he would be able to win the prestigious World's Strongest Man title.

"It might be sooner than you think, with the way I'm going", Singleton confidently replied.

What's Ahead

The top three finishers from the Giants Live World Open are all going to Colorado in two weeks for the second edition of the Shaw Classic (August 27-28), while the Giants Live tour continues a week later (September 4) with the Europe's Strongest Man competition in Leeds, England.

Photo: SBD Apparel

Eythór Ingólfsson Melsted came in as the favourite to win the Iceland's Strongest Man title, but he was beaten to the punch yet again.

Ingólfsson Melsted had to settle for 2nd place for the third time in his career because of a heroic performance by Stefán Karel Torfason, the son of 1997 champion Torfi Ólafsson.

After winning the contest, Stefán Karel had some very nice words for his father.

"I think he still has the longest carry ever with the heaviest Húsafell Stone... He is the one who pushes me, because I want to beat him."

Stefán Karel Torfason will have to keep working in order to surpass his father's accomplishments. Torfi was a three-time World's Strongest Man finalist in the 1990s, finishing 4th in 1997.

A Nail-Biting Finish

Going into the final event, the traditional Húsafell Stone carry for distance, Torfason and Ingólfsson Melsted were separated by just half a point, meaning that whoever bested the other would win the title. This was the closest Iceland's Strongest Man contest in many years, with Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson having dominated for an entire decade.

Both athletes had had their moments, with Ingólfsson Melsted delivering dominant performances in the Overhead Medley, the Squat Lift and the Atlas Stones, while Torfason placed in the top 3 in every event except the Overhead Medley. Ingólfsson Melsted found himself in a precarious position because of an 8th place finish in the Medley and a 7th place finish in the Deadlift Hold.

Ingólfsson Melsted had to go before his rival in the Húsafell Stone, and he managed a strong 54.1 metres, beating everyone else who had attempted the event.

However, the 6-foot-8 Torfason got a great pickup and easily ran 60 metres with the legendary stone to seal his victory.

The new champion demonstrated great potential in multiple events. Weighing in at 150 kg, the 27-year-old should have many years to fill out his massive frame and improve his static power.

Eythór Ingólfsson Melsted will no doubt be disappointed about the result. The 2021 World's Strongest Man finalist entered the competition injured, but because of Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson's retirement, he felt like this would be his greatest chance of winning the prestigious Icelandic crown.

Another athlete suffering from an injury, Kristján Níelsson, managed to get himself on the podium for the first time. The man who calls himself "Iceland's Strongest Gay" did not win a single event, but he was consistent throughout the weekend and earned enough points to edge out Kristján Jón Haraldsson and Theodór Már Gudmundsson for the podium.

Future Opportunities

By virtue of winning the Iceland's Strongest Man title, Stefán Karel Torfason will be able to earn invites to future World's Ultimate Strongman competitions. There is also no doubt that many promoters will keep an eye out for him in years to come.

(Photo: Rogue Fitness)

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