The penultimate heat for this year’s World’s Strongest Man competition, and it’s featuring one of THE premier athletes in strongman!
Eben Le Roux – Australia (2nd WSM appearance)
Mark Felix – England (4th place – 2006 WSM)
Nick Best – USA (6th place – 2010 WSM)
Bjorn Solvang – Norway (2ns WSM appearance)
Laurence Shahlaei – England (4th place – 2011 WSM)
Zydrunas Savickas – Lithuania (3-time WSM Champion – 2009, 2010, 2012)
Event 1 – Loading Race
Must load all 4 anvils, weighing 125kg, onto the platforms!
The first group has Le Roux, Felix and Best go at it. Nick Best, despite being old is a quick man and very powerful, and he shows it by beating out Felix who is also good as these type of events, and Le Roux is a younger man and SHOULD be fitter. As good as the first grouping was, it’s all about the second as we see one of the top English strongman Laurence Shahlaei and of course the might Zydrunas Savickas, former 3 time champion and one of the all time greats in strongman history! There were heavy rumours last year after he lost the title that he would retire, but he’s back and looking to reclaim what he and many others believe belongs to HIM! He won the Arnold Strongman Classic earlier in the year, something he’s done more than any other man in history so he’s certainly on top of his game still! He’s going well, firmly in front of everyone else, but JUST misses out on first place! He is heavier than most men in the sport so the fact he moves as fast as he does is impressive. Shahlaei though puts in a poor performance for him, coming in 3rd in the grouping, and last overall.
Event 2 – Truck Pull
Pull a 12 tonne truck down a 30 meter course in 60 seconds.
That extra weight I mentioned Savickas carrying around? Well, it’s definitely going to be an advantage in this event! His weight will help him move the truck easier, and the sheer power he possesses will likely have him coming in first place. Not many people can best Big Z in a truck pull! As for the Englishmen, neither men have been known for being great truck pullers, despite them both having impressive static strength and being able to move quickly for the most part. And as I write that, Mark Felix does it in 42.88 seconds, putting him in first place so far, ahead of current leader Nick Best, Eben Le Roux and Bjorn Solvang! Well Laurence continues to make me look stupid by not only doing well in the truck pull, but beating even Felix’s time for current first place, with just Big Z left to go! Exactly what he needed after his failure in the first event! To nobodies surprise, Big Z wins the event by 3 seconds. He wants that title back dammit!!!
Event 3 – Deadlift
Weight ranges from 280 to 370kg. Every time they complete a lift, another barrel is loaded onto the apparatus, and they must complete all weights in 60 seconds.
Oh boy, this is going to be good! Felix has been one of the best deadlifters in WSM for almost a decade now. Big Z is one of the best ever. Laurence Shahlaei last year got the British record for max weight (until Eddie Hall beat him this year). Well well, what’s this? Mark Felix only gets SIX? I guess age is catching up to him! Can Big Z do better? Well… yes. In time, because not even HE gets all 7. But that could have been tactics because he WAS bleeding from the nose, and likely didn’t want to do any damage. So Laurence is last, and knows what he needs to do to win; get all 7. His time for 6 is so close to Big Z, and in fact is actually BETTER! Wow. Is Big Z showing his age too, or is Z holding back for the final that he knows he’s probably going through to regardless?
At the half way point, let’s have a look at the points:
Big Z is indeed on top still, and 4 points ahead of Shahlaei. Felix is doing well and still in the mix, with Best hanging in there too. A couple of good performances for him and he could upset the Englishmen. Solvang and Le Roux technically could still get through if things went their way, but I don’t see it happening in all honesty.
Event 4 – Super Yoke
Run a 25 meter course carrying a 455kg yoke in the fastest time within 60 seconds!
This event should suit Shahlaei well, as he claims to be perhaps the best in the world at this! And of course you should never count out Big Z, even in events that require fast movement down a course. Speaking of fast movement, Nick Best is charging down the course and makes it in 16.83 seconds!!! He defeats Felix head to head by almost 10 seconds. That will help him gain some ground (and points) to potentially move ahead of Felix in the overall standings, and challenge Laurence for that second place too! The main battle for this event is Big Z Vs Shahlaei! Who is the best in the world at this? Shahlaei does it in 13.5 second. Not even Big Z can match that! He doesn’t even best Nick Best! Excellent job from the Englishmen, and great points for Nick Best who is slowly starting to comeback!
Event 5 – Viking Press
150kg’s must be pressed out for as many reps as possible in 60 seconds!
From an event that Shahlaei is probably the best in the world at, to an event that Big Z is probably the best EVER at! Solvang and Le Roux go first, and poor Le Roux can’t make one rep. Solvang on the other hand goes like a train and gets an impressive 13! That will give everyone else something to aim for! Nick Best and Mark Felix battle against each other again, not just for a potential qualifying spot, but also for as many points as they can get for 3rd place to be one of the 2 wildcard qualifiers! Felix gets 7 and Best gets 6, which is a great result for Felix as he isn’t typically good at overhead pressing events. Let’s find out just how many Big Z can bust out, and can Laurence at least beat out Felix? Big Z plays the old tactics game again and does 13 and no more to tie first place! Shahlaei at least managed to get 7 to beat Best and tie Felix making his second place finish all the more safe going into the final event.
With just 1 event to go, this is how the scores look:
Big Z’s qualifying spot is confirmed now, so he can relax going into the stones. Shahlaei still needs to do a little work to ensure his spot in the final, but at this point it seems that it’s mainly a battle between Felix and Best for that 3rd place finish to possibly earn a wildcard spot!
Event 6 – Atlas Stones
Lift all 5 stones onto platforms, weighing from 130kg to 185kg, within 60 seconds as fast as you can!
Big Z and Nick Best go head to head, and Z seems to be just playing around with the stones, getting a feel for them before the final. Best on the other hand is trying his absolute best to get that 5th stone up and put pressure on the two Englishmen, but he just can’t get it on the platform. If Felix can get that 5th stone up and Shahlaei can’t, and doesn’t beat Best in time for 4, Felix might sneak into the final! Oh wow, Felix does an incredible job of getting all 5 up in 34 seconds, but Shahlaei gets 4 up and does enough to keep his second place spot!
Overall, this is how the leaderboard looks:
Big Z might not have looked as dominant as you would expect, but like so many experienced top Strongmen, he likely held back a lot so he could have more energy going into the final. Shahlaei was injured last year and couldn’t make the final, but now he’s back, healthy, and going to the final!