Time for the second heat in this year’s World’s Strongest Man competition! Tonight we get THOR, the reigning Europe’s Strongest Man and 2nd place finisher from last year! His spot is all but guaranteed if I’m honest, so the second qualifying spot will be fought for between Graham Hicks of England, Rafal Kobylarz of Poland, Hungary’s Akos Nagy, Josh Thigpen from the USA and Dimitar Savatinov from Bulgaria. If I had to choose, I’d say Thigpen and Hicks are the two with the best chance of joining THOR in the finals.
Event 1 – Loading Race
A little different from the first heat, as they now have 1 sack and 2 tyres to lift up, run down a course and load onto a platform at the end. The first 3 men really struggle with this first event, with only Savatinov completing the course with less than 2 seconds to spare. The second set of competitors make this look like a different event completely with the sacks, as all 3 have no problems there. The tyres prove to be a problem for Hicks who injures his foot when he drops it, and then Thigpen drops the second tyre just inches from the platform and is unable to complete the course. THOR on the other hand blasts through this event with ease, as we would expect.
Event 2 – Norse Hammers
Similar to the Fingal’s Fingers event, only the poles are shorter and have giant hammers at the top of them, which will no doubt make it much harder to turn over. Only 3 though, rather than 5. Hicks gets off to a good start despite the first event, but I don’t see him getting all 3 over. He does manage 2, which I think will be a good result for him as Nagy is unable to flip that second one over. Up next is THOR who I expect to breeze through these, and Kobylarz who I think will be lucky to match Hicks. THOR gets 2 in a much faster time than Hicks, and even Kobylarz manages the second in a faster time which honestly surprised me. But THOR is the man to praise here with all 3 turned over. 2 men still to go, and I doubt THOR is going to be beaten in this event. Thigpen looks to have almost passed out while attempting the first hammer, which is not good. Savatnov gets 2 over and doesn’t even want to try the third. Kinda surprised that Hicks’ time didn’t stand up as well as I expected. Thigpen is making me look bad by picking him as a potential qualifier!
Event 3 – Squat Lift
320kg bar and a 60 second time limit. Simply get as many reps as possible! Savatinov gets 1 rep, Rafal doesn’t get a single one, and the current leader is Nagy with 4. Hicks out next and this SHOULD be a good event for him, but he is having issues still with his foot and his legs. The first rep looks great, but the second looks like a struggle, and that’s the end of his attempt unfortunately. Seems like Hicks will have to wait another year to go into the final as I doubt he can make up enough points after a number of bad performances so far. THOR did very badly in the final last year at the squat lift, which essentially cost him the title, so you gotta believe he wants to prove he can do this event and will want to win it. He gets to 5, putting him in the lead with just Thigpen to go. Good points for him no matter what. Being so tall, doing this well in the squat lift is definitely impressive! Thigpen NEEDS a good result here, and easily makes it to 5 to equal THOR, and then busts out a 6 to get his first win!
After 3 events, these are the current scores:
Well, THOR is comfortably on top to the surprise of no one. Unfortunately Graham Hicks has had to withdraw from the competition due to injury. A great result in the squat by Thigpen has put him right into contention for that second qualifying spot, so he might just make my prediction come true after all!!!
Event 4 – Basque Circle
A giant basket, weighing 279kg is attached to a pole and the athletes must lift it up and walk it around in a circle as many times as possible! Nagy has already gone, getting just over 19m. Savatinov, currently in second place overall, is out next. I think he could do well in this event due to his build, but he only manages 22.1m. Good enough to beat Nagy, but I doubt it will hold up against the likes of THOR. Can Rafal do better? Good points here for him could move him up the leader board and put him in contention for that second qualifying spot as well. 22.25m for him, which just edges out Savatinov, exactly what he needed to do at the very least. Thigpen again needs a good result to continue his chase for the final, but he looks VERY uncomfortable from the get go and even looks like he might drop it at the very beginning. In one hell of a performance he does keep it going, but only manages a little over 21m, putting him behind the previous 2 competitors. Finally, THOR gets his turn to tackle this event. He makes it look easy, practically running around the course and stopping once he gets to 24m, knowing he has already won.
Event 5 – Dumbell Press
A giant dumbell weight 100kg must be lifted overhead with ONE ARM as many times as possible in 60 seconds. Thigpen doesn’t attempt this due to an elbow injury, so we can assume his competition is over. Nagy gets 3, and Rafal beats him by 1 for more good points. With Thigpen not attempting this, Rafal has an even better chance of making the final. Of course in his way is Savatinov who HOLY FUCK IS A BEAST in this event!!! 6 in 30 seconds, and manages 8 in total! I don’t think THOR can even beat that! Savatinov is definitely keeping hold of his second place right now going into the final event! So, how good is THOR at this event? Pressing events aren’t usually suited to the very tall men, but THOR is similar to Brian Shaw in that he defies the odds and does well in numerous events that he shouldn’t do well in. THOR stops at 2, getting a 4th place finish in this event, but given his points so far, and the fact the Atlas Stones are likely the final event, he didn’t have any reason to waste energy here.
With one event left, let’s check out the scores again:
Thigpen and Nagy unfortunately have no chance now of making the final. THOR is all but guaranteed a spot, and while Dimitar looks to be the favourite to join him in the final, Rafal COULD steal that second qualifying spot away in this final event!
Event 6 – Atlas Stones
Titles have been won and lost on this very event, and today we could see a qualifying spot won and lost between Rafal and Dimitar. Rafal manages 4 in a decent time, but cannot manage the 5th. Dimitar just needs to get 4 up in a better time and he will have no problems making the final. THOR is the king of the stones these days and will no doubt blast through as many of these stones as he wishes. All 5 isn’t needed from him but he might just do it anyway. Dimitar does great here and beats out Rafal for 4 stones, and of course he and THOR both make it through to the final!!!
And here are the final scores, confirming the two make who go through to the final:
THOR is no surprise here, and I seem to have underestimated Savatinov, who becomes the first ever Bulgarian to make the final! Congrats to him! Bad news for Hicks who tore his quad, and once again Josh Thigpen fails to make the final. I thought for sure he would make it through this year after so many close calls.