Only 8 places remain now for the WSM Final, and 2 more are going to be gobbled up here tonight! The 6 strongmen competing for those places are:
- Adam Derks (UAS) – 1st WSM Appearance
- Johan Els (South Africa) – Africa’s Strongest Man 2016
- Paul Smith (England) – 1st WSM Appearance
- Johnny Hansson – 3rd place Sweden’s Strongest Man 2015 & 2017
- Adam Bishop (England) – 3rd WSM Appearance
- Brian Shaw (USA) – 4x World’s Strongest Man 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016
The 4 time WSM Brian Shaw is here to try and make his 10th final in a row, and I wouldn’t bet against him. Which means that realistically only 1 place is up for grabs here. Adam Bishop stands a good chance if he can stay fit and healthy. Vytautas Lalas was supposed to compete here today but he unfortunately tore his left calf, and that opened the door for another English competitor Paul Smith. Hansson is someone to watch out for here, and he could upset Bishop and take the qualifying spot!
Event 1 – Load & Carry
Same opening event as the last heat. 2 150KG sacks must be loaded onto a platform down a 12m course, then once they’ve done that, they have to lift up 2 farmer’s walk implements also weighing 150KG each and carry them back down the 12m course in the quickest time! Should be a great event for Brian Shaw. Derks, Els and Smith are first to go, and Derks almost takes himself out trying to load the first sack. Els doesn’t have many problems at all, while Smith is unable to load both sacks at all. Derks gets started with the Farmer’s Walk, but runs out of time. Els looked on a different level entirely! Shaw manhandles the massive sacks, but doesn’t seem to be in any real rush. He doesn’t beat the time of Els, but he does come in 2nd place. Shaw is well known for holding back in the heats, just getting enough points to make it to the final and THEN go all out. Bishop and Hansson both make it as well.
Event 2 – Kettlebell Toss
Throwing objects over a large wall is a very traditional event in Strongman. We’ve had blocks, kegs and now Kettlebells. The height to throw them over is 4.75m, and the kettlebells themselves range from 20.5KG right up to 29.5KG, and there are 8 in total. Another event that should suit Brian Shaw due to his height and explosive power, while Bishop should do quite well too. Hansson is very good at this type of event too, so we’ll just have to see what happens! Paul Smith unfortunately got 0 over, while Derks managed 5, and Hansson, someone I would have picked to be right up there with Shaw, has only managed 6. Still, he could be in with good points if Els and Bishop don’t do so well. Speaking of, Bishop is up next! He doesn’t seem to be trying to get a super fast time, probably knowing he can’t compete with the likes of Shaw in this event, so for him, simply getting as many over is what matters. 7 are over, and the 8th doesn’t make it. Instead of wasting energy on multiple attempts he ends it there, knowing he’s in current 1st. Shaw’s time now, and the kettlebells are going over with ease. He too likely isn’t too worried about the time, as he KNOWS he can get all 8 over, and its very unlikely that Els will match it. He’s done 7 in a fast time, then takes his time and throws the final kettlebell over! Only Els remains, and I think he’ll be after a fast 7 to overtake Bishop. Like Shaw, he’s manhandling the kettlebells… right up until the 7th which he makes a mistake on. He does get it over, but in a slower time than Bishop.
Event 3 – Deadlift
Like the squat lift in the previous heat, this is all about getting 7 reps done in the fastest time, with each rep increasing in weight. Starting rep is 290KG and the final rep will be 380KG. Smith is tied in 2nd right now along with Hansson on 3 reps. Currently in 1st is Derks with 5 reps. We join the action with Els, and it’ll be interesting to see how he does here. 4 reps go up fairly slowly, and he really puts in a ton of effort for the 5th rep to tie for 1st atm. That is all he can manage on this day. Bishop now, and he should be able to do well here. 5 up in a good time, and the 6th goes up as well to put him in 1st! He gives the 7th rep a go, but is unable to get it. Shaw next is probably going to get 6 in a fast time and not even attempt the last rep unless he’s somehow slower than Bishop. Seems that time isn’t a factor here and that he only ties for 1st on 6 reps. Not sure why time is no longer a factor. Bit of a surprise that Shaw didn’t get the 7th rep too.
We are now halfway through Heat 2, so lets have a look at the scores!
Shaw in 1st place is a surprise to nobody, but I am a little surprised by Hansson being all the way down the leaderboard in joint 4th. Bishop is on track to have the chance to qualify, and Els is right there with him. Expect to see those 2 men face off in Event 6.
Event 4 – Arm over Arm
25m course, 6+ tonnes of bus. And all our athletes have to do is pull the bus using the arm over arm technique up the course! 4 men have been so far, and Bishop is sadly sat in LAST place, with Derks leading. Nobody has yet to finish the course, which is also what we saw in the previous heat. Only Hansson and Shaw remain. Hansson is out first and he looks well built for this type of event! He’s already in the lead, but with 20 seconds to go could he get it over the line… YES! The first man from 2 heats to finish the course! Now can Brian Shaw match it, and do it in a faster time? Then again, maybe he won’t want to go all out and just do enough to come in 2nd. With Hansson in 1st right now and Bishop in last, Shaw can afford to go easy here and still come out on top overall in the points. He seems to have been told his distance is enough for 2nd and he stops there. Great to see Hansson finally showing his potential!
Event 5 – Overhead Press
4 HUGE dumbbells, ranging from 90KG to 120KG, must be lifted overhead with ONE ARM. I’d be surprised if anyone but Shaw makes the 4th lift, but even then, Shaw might not need to even attempt it. Derks is up first, battling Paul Smith. The first dumbbell proves no challenge to either men, but the second looks to be too much for Smith. Derks has blasted through the first 3, and will not attempt the massive 120KG dumbbell, but it proves to be too much for him. Bishop Vs Hansson time, and I’d expect both men to do 3 as well. Neither man is rushing here, and Hansson can’t seem to manage the 2nd dumbbell, as Bishop is onto the 4th one now! Can he do it? No. And I don’t think his time was anywhere near Derks, but given everyone else’s performance so far, he will have enough points to go through to the head to head no matter what Els and Shaw do! 2 reps from Shaw and he knows he’s already done enough to go straight through to the finals and not have to mess about with the 6th event. Els only manages a single rep, but he also looks to be going through to the 6th event for a chance to advance to the finals!
As we head into the final event, lets check the scores to see if we are indeed correct about who will take on the Atlas Stones.
Yep, both Bishop and Els are going to the stones, while Brian Shaw qualifies for his 10th straight WSM final, a new record!
Event 6 – Atlas Stones
Its those 5 classic stones once again. Only Bishop and Els will take on this event, with the winner going into the final. Have I mentioned yet how I hate this format? Oh well. It is what it is. Who will go through with Shaw? We’ll soon find out! Els is off like a rocket and is putting the stones on with ease, while Bishop is a stone behind each time. Bishop gets to the 5th stone just as Els gets it up, and cements his place in the final! Heartbreak for Bishop, but a great achievement for Els!