The first 6 men will compete to gain entry into the World’s Strongest Man Final for 2020! Just a bit of info before we get into the heat; all three podium finishers from 2019 are NOT here. THOR has retired (training for a BOXING MATCH AGAINST EDDIE HALL), while Kieliszkowski and the reigning champion Licis are both injured. That 100% sucks for them, but even with their absence, someone will be crowned the WORLD’S STRONGEST MAN for 2020 and they will have to absolutely earn it. If anything, its making 2021 WSM even more exciting! Anywho, back to Heat 1! Our athletes today are:
- Luke Richardson – Great Britain (Europe’s Strongest Man 2020)
- Robert Oberst – USA
- Gabriel Pena – Mexico
- Pa O’Dwyer – Ireland
- Jerry Pritchett – USA
Should be a good heat, with realistically 3 men battling it out for the 2 places; Richardson, Oberst and Pritchett.
Heat 1 – Farmer’s Walk
A classic way to start off a heat! 150KG implements in each hand, and the winner will take them the most distance down the course with a 60 second time limit! Dropping them outside of “safe zones” will end their run. Pa O’Dwyer is first up, in his first WSM appearance. He has been a multi-time Ireland’s Strongest Man, but here he can’t seem to get it together and only manages 7.83m. Not the start he would have wanted. A real shame. Jerry Pritchett’s time now, as he returns to WSM for the first time in years. He’s been at Giant’s Live and other events over the years but unfortunately struggles with injuries that keep him from the WSM competition. Hopefully he can stay fit and healthy here and get back into the final after all this time! He has a ton of power, as we’ve seen over the years in Dead Lift competitions, so its all going to boil down to his grip. 32m with 30 seconds to go and yeah, he’s making mincemeat out of this event. 52m for Pritchett is an excellent result! Gabrial Pena took his turn, managing 9.89m. Then big Robert Oberst had a go, getting 38.87m. A great result, but still only good enough for current 2nd place. How will Europe’s Strongest Man fair? Time to find out as we re-join the action! He looks extremely uncomfortable in his first lap, so I don’t think he’s going to make a dent on the top 2. And as I write that, 20.13m is where he drops it. He’ll have to make up points in the next event!
Event 2 – Deadlift
Pritchett did excellent in the first event, and now he has to chance to take yet another 1st place finish with the deadlift! 345kg to be lifted as many times as possible within 60 seconds, and considering his max deadlift is at least 100kg heavier than this, I reckon he’ll take the event win again. O’Dwyer is up first, and he’s looking better than I’ve seen him in years at this event in all honesty. I was expecting maybe 3 from him, but he showed me how wrong I am by getting 6 reps! Fantastic result for such a heavy deadlift for reps! Pena is next, and he’s completely new to me as far as I can remember. Don’t see him taking a place in the final this year, but he will gain plenty of experience for next time. He was very impressive here, taking the current lead with 8 reps. Almost 9, but couldn’t lock it out. In any other heat that might have been good enough for first place, but with Pritchett still to go, I doubt it. Now for Richardson, and he’s looking very good with his early reps. 7 reps is just around 30 seconds, giving him plenty of time to have a rest and squeeze out some more… but its just too much for him. 7 overall. Good result still, but will likely land him in the middle of the pack 2 events in a row. Oberst now, and while he’s powerful as hell, he’s never been good at deadlift. Years ago you could blame it on his 6ft 8in frame, but with the likes of Shaw and Thor breaking world records in their time, that excuse just won’t cut it. And well, he gets 1 rep and gives up, knowing he won’t be able to match even 6 reps to tie O’Dwyer, so why use up all that energy. Smart! Lastly we have Pritchett and he makes another event look far too easy. 9 reps with 25 seconds to go. Enough to win, as predicted!
Event 3 – Monster Loading Medley
Unfortunately Gabriel Pena has had to withdraw from the competition. But we must continue on, and this loading medley features MONSTER TRUCK PARTS. 115kg Engine Block, 140kg Rear Differential, 100kg Tyre Rim x2, and a Wheel Hub at 115kg. They must be picked up and moved down an 8m course and loaded onto a platform as fast as possible within 90 seconds! O’Dwyer is up first against Robert Oberst. Oberst being so big should help him grip the implements easier, but he’s also slower. O’Dwyer is a full implement ahead, but will he tire and allow Oberst to catch up? The answer is… no. O’Dwyer finishing in a time of 48.99 seconds, while Oberst is behind at 56.96 seconds. Great time from O’Dwyer that everyone will really have to fight to beat. Richardson against Pritchett now. Wow, Richardson is FAST, and he is doing very well. He loses a bit of time with the tyre rims, but still manages to beat O’Dwyer’s time! Pritchett must slower, and might have come last. 57.37 seconds does indeed place him in last place, while Richardson is in first at 46.30 seconds!
With 3 events down and 2 more to go, let’s check up on the overall points to see who could be heading into the final with an event to spare, and which 2 men might be forced to battle it out on the Atlas Stones!
Pritchett still holding onto first place, but only a single point separates him and Richardson. This next event will determine who qualifies early, and who has to face off!
Event 4 – Overhead Press
A 150kg log needs to be lifted overhead as many times as possible in 75 seconds. Oberst can make up some big points here, while Pritchett and Richardson will no doubt just be trying to stay ahead of the other. Oberst is up first against Pa O’Dwyer again. O’Dwyer only being a point behind Oberst does mean he CAN take over and get into that Atlas Stone’s “stone off”, but beating such a powerful overhead lifter like Oberst won’t be easy at all. A great 5 reps from O’Dwyer, but against Oberst it wasn’t good enough as he manages 8. That guarantees Oberst going into the stone off, now we have to see who he faces; Richardson or Pritchett. Pritchett looks the better presser of the two, but Richardson keeps matching him rep for rep. 8 reps from both men with 10 seconds to go, but Pritchett is the one who manages to get a 9th rep before the whistle, and he’s into the final!
Event 5 – Atlas Stones
With Pritchett making it to the final, it all comes down to Richardson against Oberst. It was the Atlas Stones that won Richardson the title of Europe’s Strongest Man, but the massive Oberst has gone through to the WSM Final on the Atlas Stones in the past and very well could here. A new twist for 2020 is that there are now 8 stones, finishing up on the 200kg stone that we usually see in the final. With 7 stones before it, the 200kg stone might be just too much. Guess we have to watch and find out! Oberst is up first to set the time. Well, this is not a good start, as it takes him around 12 seconds to get that first stone up as it keeps slipping. He is very slow, and frankly isn’t looking like the Oberst of old. I wonder if he’s injured? Only FOUR stones for the giant American. He seems to just be complaining about how slippery the stones were rather than hurting. Hopefully Richardson can learn from that and make sure the stones stick to him easier with the tacky stuff they put on themselves. The first stone went up easily, and it appears that Richardson is going through to his first WSM Final on his first attempt! 4 stones in a much faster time confirms his placement, but he gets a 5th stone up just to make sure!
There we have it; Pritchett and Richardson are into the 2020 Finals! Pritchett is looking better than he has in a very, very long time, though he did seem to struggle with the loading medley which is not a weakness you want in modern strongman. Richardson seems to be very much a full package, in that he isn’t BAD at any event, but he’s yet to come into his own in any. While getting into the final on his first attempt, and winning Europe’s Strongest Man at only 23 years of age is impressive, I think 2020 WSM for him will be a learning experience more than anything. They call him the “future”, and I believe he probably will be. The present though, from just the first heat, is all about Pritchett!