Things are beginning to HEAT up now! Only 4 places in the final remain, with 2 more up for grabs today! Who else will join the all-star final?
- Rongo Keene (Australia) – Australia’s Strongest Man 2016
- Mark Felix (England) – 13th WSM appearance
- Krzysztof Radzikowski (Poland) – 3x Poland’s Strongest Man
- Martin Forsmark (Sweden) – 5x Sweden’s Strongest Man Runner Up
- JF Caron (Canada) –
- Martins Licis (USA) – 4th place World’s Strongest Man 2017
Martins Licis is an odds on favourite to make it to the finals, after finishing 4th last year and only getting better. JF Caron has been a consistent finalist at WSM over the last 5 years and I doubt he’ll be missing it this year. Felix at 52 years old still has a chance to make the finals, but sadly it is a rarity for him to get there despite competing for 13 years now at WSM. Radzikowski always seems to just miss out on qualifying these days, but he could always surprise us if he can get back into the form he was when he originally burst onto the scene. Forsmark is one to look out for though, as he could surprise everyone by taking a qualifying spot from one of the bigger favourites!
Event 1 – Load & Carry
Those 2 big sacks and the Farmer’s Walk are back for the opening event. I’ve been pretty surprised that so many of the athletes haven’t even finished the sacks, which shows just how difficult they are. Keene, Felix and Radzikowski go first, and this might very well suit Felix over the other two due to his great grip… assuming he can load the 2 sacks. Radzikowski has been known for being very fast in the past, and he could do well with loading the sacks, but the Farmer’s Walk part is a bit iffy. Keene is new to me so I have no idea what to expect from him. Felix gets off to the best start, with Radzikowski right behind him. Keene is struggling with the first sack, while Felix is already on the Farmer’s Walk! He finishes the course ahead of the other 2 men as I was expecting, while Radzikowski just gets over the line despite dropping the Farmer’s Walk implements. Keene was unable to load a single sack. Now for the second set of athletes, and I would expect Felix’s time to be beat here by at least 1 of the strongmen. All 3 men look good on the sacks, but its Licis who is current leading the pack. All 3 men make it to the Farmer’s walk, with both Licis and Caron beating Felix, and Forsmark losing his grip numerous times but crossing the line just over the 1 minute mark.
Event 2 – Circle of Strength
One large metal bar weighing 300KG needs to be lifted and walked around a circle for the most distance! A hard event that even the best struggle at. Virtually impossible to determine who will win this event, which makes it that much more interesting! 3 men have been and gone, with Radzikowski in current 1st place with a distance of 369 degrees. Up first for us to see is Mark Felix. He’s passed the 369 mark and finishes with 458 degrees to overtake Radzikowski. Now for Caron who drops it almost immediately. Hopefully he isn’t injured and can still compete. Licis is last and he knows what he needs to get 1st place, or at the very least get good points. He makes it look easy and finishes with 501 degrees for maximum points! As always, a difficult event with Felix suffering a minor leg injury which won’t prevent him from continuing, but JF Caron has torn something in his leg which might end his competition this year.
Event 3 – Deadlift
7 reps weighing 290KG right up to 380KG must be completed in the fasted time possible. A great event for Mark Felix who used to be unbeatable in deadlift for reps. Caron is an incredible deadlifter too, but both men are suffering right now from the previous event, which might give Licis and others a chance to gain even more points. Keene has been and managed 3 reps, while Forsmark is currently in the lead with 5. Caron he out next and we’ll see how his injury will effect him. He isn’t going particularly fast here, but he’s already overtaken Forsmark and looks good for all 7 reps before time is up. With less than 10 seconds left he gets it up, but he did look in pain with that last list. Radzikowski now, and deadlift isn’t his best event but he should do fairly well. 5 reps for him puts him in equal 2nd right now. Time for Mark Felix, and we’ll see just how good he still is at this event. He’s lifting them much faster than Caron did, so if he gets all 7 he’ll be ahead for sure. The 6th rep looks difficult, and the 7th is too much for him today. He’ll finish in 3rd at the very least depending on how Licis does, so he’ll still get good points. Speaking of, here comes Licis! He has an impressive Personal Best for max deadlift, so hopefully reps will be fairly easy for him. The final rep takes some real effort, but he gets it and just beats Caron’s time! Another first place! Except he’s only tied for first. Wait… I thought times mattered when they got all 7 reps? Did they change the rules? Or was that just for the Squat Lift?
3 events down, 3 more to go. Lets check the scores!
Licis of course remains in 1st place, while Felix and Caron are doing great despite injuring themselves in the 2nd event. Radzikowski is still in with a change of claiming one of the 2 qualifying spots, while Forsmark and Keene would need the performance of a lifetime to get back into the competition.
Event 4 – Arm over Arm
The last heat got the traditional bus pull, but we’re back to the dreaded arm over arm pull today! 4 men have gone already, with Forsmark leading the way with a distance of 17.49m. Anyone who can finish this course deserves as many points as they can get. Felix now, and his legendary grip will come into play, but that knee injury might cause him problems as he begins to push off the board more with his legs as his arms start to tire. He has 20 seconds left and has beaten the distance from Forsmark, and with less than a second to go he gets it over the line! Well done to the 52 year old!!! Now for Licis, who will desperately want to prove to everyone how good his is, but he doesn’t look to be going particularly well atm. He’ll be lucky to get a 3rd place finish in this event now. In fact, he gets 4th place. A difficult event that even the best have struggled with. Congrats to Felix, only the 2nd man to finish the course over all heats so far!
Event 5 – Overhead Press
The overhead press next will have our athletes press 4 massive dumbbells overhead with ONE ARM in the fastest time. Felix has been on a role so far, but this is one of his absolute weakest events. Overhead press has never been good for him, and sadly I see him doing rather poor here. Caron, Radzikowski and Licis should all do well though. Radz and Keene are up first, and both get 1 rep easy enough. Keene takes his time getting the 2nd rep, while Radz has to lift the 3rd dumbbell twice as he doesn’t lock out the first time. However, the 4th rep goes up just barely, and that will be a good marker for the rest. Caron against Forsmark next. Caron is excellent at this, while Forsmark barely gets the 1st lift and doesn’t look like he’ll manage a second one. Caron attempts the 4th lift, but just can’t press it. Current 2nd, which he’ll be disappointed with as he might very well move down to 3rd once Licis has completed the event. Felix and Licis are out last, and yeah, I’m not expecting too much from Felix. I just hope he can do enough to remain in either 2nd or 3rd overall. Licis gets 3 reps in a fast time, and has done enough to go straight through to the final. Felix is finding it impossible to lock out on the second rep, and he finishes with just 1. Saw it coming, unfortunately.
Well, with just 1 event left, lets look at the scores and confirm who gets to go head to head for that 2nd qualifying place!
Despite that poor performance, Mark Felix remains in 2nd place, and will go head to head with Caron in the stones!
Event 6 – Atlas Stones
Caron Vs Felix, with a place in the final up for grabs. Based on previous years, I would have to go with Caron taking the win here and going through to the final again. The whistle blows, and both men struggle a little with the first stone, but get into their rhythm and are neck and neck going to the final stone! However, its Caron who gets the 5th stone up, and cements his place into the final for the 6th time!
And there we have it, another 2 men qualifying for the WSM Final! Licis looked great throughout, aside from the arm over arm event. Caron did a fantastic job battling his way to the final despite injury, but because of that I don’t see him finishing 5th place again this year.