The qualifying rounds are over. Now, the 30 strongest men on the planet will compete in 5 heats for a place in the final, with the winner of that officially being the STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD!
The first athletes to compete for a spot in the final are:
Mateusz Belsak – Slovenia
Robert Oberst – USA
Luck Stoltman – Great Britain
Martins Licis – USA
Mark Felix – Great Britain
Johannes Arsjo – Sweeden
Event 1 – Loading Race
3 130kg barrels must be lifted and run down a course and loaded onto a platform in 75 seconds! Oh, and on sand too, which will make the task even more difficult!
Oberst, Belsak and Stoltman go first, and Stoltman of Scotland seems to be off to the best start! He just drops that third barrel at the end, allowing Belsak to get the win, but does eventually get the last barrel up and still beat Oberst who I don’t think is going to get that final barrel up in time. Nope, he doesn’t. Licis, Felix and Arsjo now. Felix struggles the most at first, dropping his barrel at the start and not being able to make it on the platform by the time Arsjo and Licis have done two. Licis wins with ease, while Arjso gets third place overall. Felix is in dead last. A very disappointing event for him.
Event 2 – Hercules Hold
2 giant pillars, one in each hand weighing 180kg. The athletes simply have to hold onto them for as long as possible! Simple, right?
Arsjo went first and only managed 25 seconds. Belsak better with 28, and Stoltman passes them both with 36. Licis of the USA is in current first with 37 seconds. Oberst up now, and he seems to be built for an event like this. Only time will tell, though! Apparently Oberst has a muscle tear going into this event, but holds on for almost 43 seconds for current first place! Felix is last, and Felix is well known for having a world class grip. But in this heat, and at 50 years of age, how will Mark do? Excellent is the answer! 57.17 seconds, and Mark makes up for his last place finish in the first event with a 1st place finish right here! Sadly, Robert Oberst has to withdraw from the competition with a torn biceps.
Event 3 – Fingal’s Fingers
5 fingers, all different weights from 145kg to 175kg but be flipped up and over 180 degrees! This event hasn’t been around for a while, but when it was being used, Mark Felix was NOT very good at it.
Belsak went first and got 4 in 33 seconds. Stoltman goes head to head with Arsjo next. Arjso hasn’t had a good showing so far, but this is an event he can do well at. He gets 4 up faster than Belsak, but then goes for the 5th and does than in 45 seconds for the current lead! Stoltman is stuck on 3, sadly. Felix and Licis last. Not very familiar with Licis, but I do know Felix has always been bad at this. Has he improved over time, like he seems to have done with everything else? Licis is blasting through these fingers, but slows down to a halt on the 5th, and ends up 2nd overall. Felix gets last.
With 3 events down, here are the scores overall:
Newcomer Licis looks to be well on his way to the final already, but the second spot could go to anyone with only 2 points separating the other 4 competitors!
Event 4 – Squat Lift
325kg on a circus barbell must be squatted as many times as possible. The size of this makes it more difficult than usual, as balance can be a big issue.
Stoltman is up first, and honestly I have no idea how each man will do here as it isn’t often I see any of them in a squat event. Only 1 for Stoltman who didn’t have it in a good position on his back to begin with, and it prevented him from going any further. Felix is up next. He has a terrible time, going off balance during the first rep and falling over. 0 reps for him. Arjso only needs 2 reps to go into the lead, but he’ll want more just in case the next 2 men can do better. After the 3rd rep he looks to have injured himself, and nearly destroys the stand for the squat bar when he drops it. Hopefully he can continue. Belsak needs 4 at least just to beat Arsjo, and he does that with ease then lands a 5, before dropping the weight on an attempted 6th. Licis is last, and will be interesting to see what he is capable of. He looks good, and is very controlled with the balance. 7 reps for him and he knows he doesn’t need any more. A good first place for him again. Confirmation at the end that Arsjo is injured and out of the competition.
Event 5 – Dumbbell Press
100kg giant circus dumbbell needs to be pressed overhead with one arm.
Felix and Stoltman are going head to head first. Felix isn’t typically good here, but he NEEDS a good result now to try and capitalise on the injured Arsjo to make it to the final one more time. Both look to finish with 4 reps, but Stoltman pressed out a 5th with mere seconds to go! Licis and Belsak know what they need to beat, and Belsak should easily do better than 5 based on previous experience. 10 for Belsak proves just how good he is at this event. Licis takes his time and presses out 6 for second place, clearly knowing he wasn’t going to win this against Belsak.
With only 1 event left, lets see what those scores look like!
Licis and Belsak look like they will be the 2 finalists, but the last event has DOUBLE POINTS, which could change the leader board completely!
Event 6 – The Atlas Stones
Felix and Stoltman going head to head once again. Felix pretty much has zero chance, and the first stone from Stoltman officially means Mark has no chance of going through. That being said, he is faster than the Scotsman for 4 stones, with neither getting that massive 200kg stone up. Licis and Belask, well, unless they get injured or fail to lift a single stone, are both going through. No speed runs, but they both make 4 stones look easy, with Licis even getting that 5th stone up like it was nothing!
Here are those final overall scores:
No final for Mark this year, and 2 injuries. Not the best of events for fans of those 3 individuals. However newcomer Martins Licis put on one hell of a show, and he’ll be one to watch in the final and in the next few years. Belsak finally makes the final too, but I think he’ll end up outclassed a little by the other finalists when the time comes.