The 5th and final Heat for 2020, with the last 2 places in the final being determined! A STACKED Heat for sure too!
- Brian Shaw – USA
- Terry Hollands – Great Britain
- Luke Stoltman – Great Britain
- Nick Best – USA
- Aivars Smaukstelis – Latvia
A 4 time champion in Brian Shaw. 2 time 3rd place finisher and a man who has reached the final at least 10 times in Terry Hollands. Luke Stoltman, a finalist from last year. Nick Best, also a former finalist. And then Aivars Smaukstelis, who hasn’t made a final before, but has competed at WSM in the past. A tough, tough group for sure. Brian Shaw, while not the force he once was, usually always breezes into the final regardless, and I’d expect nothing less this year too. The second place, well. Luke Stoltman managed to qualify last year, and he’ll be desparate to do so again and join his brother. Hollands has been in more finals than most people on the planet, but his age is catching up to him and I’m not sure he can still get the job done. Nick Best sometimes lives up to his last name, and sometimes seems to completely falter. 50/50 on him getting through. Smaukstelis might wind up being the surprise finalist when its all said and done!
Event 1 – Farmer’s Walk
For the last time, we start the Heat with those 150kg implements in each hand. Furthest distance down the course in the time limit wins! Smaukstelis is first up, and I’m interested to see what he’s capable of, as I don’t know THAT much about him, certainly compared to the rest. He is looking very good so far, but has to take almost a “reset” after a couple of lengths, and that seems to throw him off and he drops them. 36.56m might now sound great, but we’ve seen some truly world class athletes go under 10m, so you never know! Up next is Terry Hollands in his 14th WSM appearance! If this was a set distance to be done in the fasted time, he’d be right up there for sure. Going for distance though, we’ll have to see. He gets to the same point as Smaukstelis and takes a similar break, but is able to continue on for another length and a turn, and yes, makes another full length for 52m! Excellent result for Hollands! Nick Best took his turn, managing 29.56m, and sadly I can see that placing him in last place once the final 2 men have been and gone. We rejoin the action with Luke Stoltman who is world class as this type of event, so I am expecting a lot from him here. Well, his grip seems to have failed him, and he only manages 28.86m. He will be pretty devastated with that result. Lastly, its Brian Shaw. He looks to be taking his time here, perhaps just making sure his grip is perfect and looking for a decent enough distance to keep him above a couple of men and nothing more, knowing he can make up points in other events. 40.10m from Shaw is still a great result, placing him in second, with Terry Hollands taking 1st!
Event 2 – Deadlift
345kg to be deadlifted as many times as possible in 60 seconds! First up is Stoltman, who should be able to do ok here. 5 hard reps for him, perhaps not as many as he would have wanted, but perhaps it’ll be good enough to keep him out of last place. Nick Best is next up, with 1 rep. Smaukstelis takes his turn getting 5 reps. We join in the action again with Brian Shaw, who is one of the best deadlifters ever at WSM. 5 reps already with more than 30 seconds to go, and he just gets to 6 for current first place with only Hollands left to go. And here comes Hollands, who in the past was fantastic at this, so it’ll be interesting to see what he’s like in 2020. WOW. He looks better than ever before, getting 6 in such a fast time, sharing the points with Brian Shaw! He and Shaw are friends and seem to have agreed to both take joint first, because Hollands could have easily done a lot more there.
Event 3 – Monster Loading Medley
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! Best went first, getting all 5 in a time of 1:21:88. A slow time, tbh, but good for him getting all 5 done still! Smaukstelis and Stoltman go head to head now, and I might give the advantage to Stoltman. Nothing between them going onto the final implement, but Smaukstelis just ripped it off the ground and won! 42:31 for Luke, and 40:50 for Aivars! A very fast time! Can Hollands and Shaw beat that now? Shaw has the POWER for this, but seems fairly slow these days. Hollands has the speed more than ever before, but it all depends on his power when running with them. A good battle between these two hopefully! Hollands is indeed in the lead atm, but neither man is going to beat the time set by the previous two men. Hollands gets the win in 52.68, and 54:21 for Shaw. Smaukstelis with the win overall here!
As we go into the 4th event, lets check the points and see who looks to be on their way to a qualifying place, and who looks to be heading into the Atlas Stones showdown!
Well, Hollands currently 2 points clear of Shaw, but with his worst event coming up. Smaukstelis as I said at the start of this could be a surprise qualifier, and I might end up being correct. The next event is the overhead press, which will suit Shaw more than anyone. Between him being fantastic at it, and Hollands being, well, not good at it, the different in points coming out of that event might place Shaw in the final and Hollands battling Smaukstelis in the Atlas Stones. Best has no chance, sadly, while Stoltman will need to place 1st in the next event to have any chance.
Event 4 – Dumbbell Medley
75 seconds, and the athletes have to press multiple sets of dumbbells over their head as quickly as possible, ranging from 50kg (in each hand) to 66kg, and then one final 100kg monster dumbbell! Best went first, but couldn’t do a single rep. He has never been good at locking out a press. Stoltman against Shaw now. Shaw is world class at pressing, so expect him to win. Stoltman is going to have to just do his best and hope Hollands and Smaukstelis do poorly. Both men here make the first 3 look easy. Shaw makes the 4th pair look simple and moves on to the monster single dumbbell. Stoltman needs to take a little time on the 4th pair, but does it, and moves on. Shaw gets 9 reps in total, while Stoltman is stuck on 4. That should put Shaw through to the final unless Hollands can pull out a miracle. Smaukstelis and Hollands battle it out now. Bad start for Hollands as he only just gets the first pair up. Smaukstelis gets 3 pairs, and that means Shaw is in the final and these two men will go to the stone off.
Oh look, someone at channel 5 isn’t doing their job right. Says “Event 3” there lol. Anyway. Shaw with the win, and despite coming in second place, Stoltman is unable to qualify. It all comes down to Hollands and Smaukstelis.
Event 5 – Atlas Stones
For the final time in 2020 we end the Heat with those 8 Atlas Stones! Hollands Vs Smaukstelis, and the winner joins Brian Shaw in the final! Hollands has the advantage going into this, as he gets to go second. Smaukstelis is up first then, and he needs a great result here. The first few go up with ease, and 5 are up in no time at all. Hollands will need to pull out a massive effort to win, and Smaukstelis is already on the final stone with plenty of time left. That 8th stone doesn’t go up, but 7 in 39.57 is an insane time. Hollands might not beat that. Time to find out. He wants to make his 10th WSM Final, and 8 stones is what he needs. A good time for 5 stones, but gets stuck on the 7th stone. He needs to get this AND the 8th stone up in 30 seconds now. Nope, not today. He knows it. Heartbreaking for Hollands.
There we have it, the final 2 athletes to qualify for the 2020 WSM Final. Seems my prediction of a surprise qualification for Smaukstelis came true! Now if only I could correctly predict the winner of WSM, something I almost never do! I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with a full predictions post, then a post later on once the Final has taken place!