Royal Albert Hall Strongman Classic 2022
Another strongman competition from the famous Royal Albert Hall!
Andy Black – Scotland
Spenser Remick – USA
Ken McClelland – USA
Eddie Williams – Australia
Paul Smith – England
Rob Kearny – USA
Mitchell Hooper – Canada
Gavin Bilton – Wales
Maxime Boudreault – Canada – 3rd at WSM 2021
Mark Felix – England
Evan Singleton – USA
Oleskii Novikov – Ukraine – Europe’s Strongest Man 2022, Strongman Classic 2021 winner & WSM 2020
A good mix of veterans, somewhat unknowns, and world class strongmen! Novikov and Bourdreault have to be the favourites, however Evan Singleton is not someone you should ever count out. While he’s had some bad luck at World’s, when it comes to Giants Live, he’s amassed a good collection of wins.
Event 1 – Dumbbell Ladder
5 circus dumbbells ranging from 80kg to 120kg need to be pressed overhead with ONE ARM. A difficult event that requires more technique than pure pressing power. Novikov is a master at this and I expect him to blow away the competition. A handful of athletes have come and gone, with Hooper in the lead atm with 4 presses in just over 30 seconds. We join the action with Mark Felix going head to head with Eddie Williams. Pressing has always been a bad event for Felix, and now he’s nearing 60, I doubt he’s going to improve. Williams isn’t someone I’ve seen too much of, and given the fact he only had a day to prepare and grab a flight to the UK, I don’t imagine he’ll be at his very best for this competition. 2 for him, and only 1 for Felix. Paul Smith against Rob Kearney now. Kearney is currently in remission for testicular cancer and you know he’ll be HUNGRY to prove he’s just as good as ever. Both men are good at this event, so it’ll be interesting to see who wins. They seem to be in sync for the first 3, then Rob flies into the lead getting all 5 in around 42 seconds! Smith manages 4 and gives the 5th a great attempt. Kearney has given Novikov a difficult target to beat! Before Novikov though, we have Gavin Bilton and Spenser Remick. Bilton isn’t that great at this event, and Remick is a total unknown to me. Well, I say that but Bilton seems to be going well, making the first 3 look really easy, which is a surprise. Renick loses a bunch of time having to put his 3rd dumbbell back onto the mat. 4 for Bilton, but the 5th is way too much for him. Renick gives the 5th a good attempt but is unsuccessful. Both men really impressed me here! Finally its Novikov against Singleton, two men who have traded Giants Live wins back and forth over the last 2 years. Singleton is going well but he looks slow and weak compared to the Ukrainian. Novikov gets the win with ease, while Singleton has a bad time being unable to lock out the 3rd dumbbell. That is a shock.
Event 2 – Hercules Hold
250kg pillars to be held in each hand for as long as possible. Mark Felix is the KING of this event, holding the world record currently, after breaking it multiple times in the last couple of years. We also get some bad news at the start of this event, that Andy Black is out of the competition with a shoulder injury. Kearney, who finished 2nd in the first event, has been and gone and managed 35.95 seconds. 20 years ago that would be close to a winning time, but today anything less than a minute isn’t going to cut it. Remick was next and managed 52.16 seconds. Then Bilton in 52.34 seconds. Novikov managed 58.11, followed by Singleton in a fantastic time of 64.04 seconds. Hooper tried and succeeded in beating Evan, with a time of 64.65 seconds! Some amazing times, but with Mark Felix still to come, it doesn’t matter. We join in on the action with Eddie Williams taking on this event for the first time EVER. Despite the insane weight he’s holding onto, he’s smiling and almost LAUGHING. At this rate he might be a rival for Felix! 1 minute has come and gone and he looks comfortable. First place for him now, and he finally drops the weights at 72 seconds! Still not enough to break the world record, but for someone’s FIRST TIME EVER doing this event… just what could he be capable of in the future? Paul Smith is up next, and he might be one of the most improved Strongmen of the last few years. He’s doing fantastic, making it over the minute mark and finishing in current 2nd place with 67.10 seconds. And now. ITS TIME. Mark Felix. He knows what he has to beat to win, and he knows what his own record is if he wants to break it. Will he succumb to pressure? Or will he sail into 1st place and break another world record? Oh wow. Poor Felix only manages 53 seconds, and he looked in some pain at the end there. Thankfully he doesn’t appear to be injured, but such a shame he wasn’t able to put on his best showing.
Event 3 – Farmer’s Walk
150 kg in each hand must be carried down a 15m course… then back again! And again! Go as far as you can in 75 seconds! You are only allowed to drop them at the end of the first 15m in order to turn around and pick back up again. This is another event that suits men with great grips, and of course those who are FAST. Novikov is one of the fastest strongmen around and will be a favourite, but with so many athletes having such good grip these days, he could be in for a shock and not place first. 7 men have been and gone, with Williams in current 3rd place with a distance of 53.25m, Smith in 2nd with 58m, and Boudreault in current 1st with 60m. 4 men are left, and first up its Felix against Novikov. Both men are going well, but Novikov is the faster of the two and reaches the 60m mark with plenty of time left to go even further, 63.30m, to take current 1st with 2 men left. Felix drops the weights at 52.35m, placing him 5th atm. Up last are Singleton and Hooper, and this should be a very interesting race. Hooper makes it 30m, but seems very tired and potentially ending his run there. Singleton needs one more lap to get to 60m to have any chance of winning, but he drops them at 55.50m. Another win for Novikov!
3 events down, only 2 to go. Lets see the overall points so far:
The defending champion is in 1st place, while an impressive Paul Smith is only 2 points behind. He’ll need to grab as many points as possible in the next event as he’ll no doubt drop a few points in the Castle Stones. 3rd place spot is up for grabs with 5 men all capable of taking it.
Event 4 – Axel Deadlift
It can’t be a strongman competition without some DEADLIFTING. 360kg and 60 seconds to get as many reps as possible. Novikov a favourite again, along with Bourdreault. Already gone are Bilton with 2, McClelland with 1, and Remick with an impressive 4. We join in on Hooper against Kearney. Both have huge max lifts, but what can they do with reps? Hooper is fantastic, getting 6 for the current lead, with Kearney getting to 3. 6 will be hard to beat. Mark Felix against Eddie Williams now. Felix used to be the best of the best at deadlift for reps, but as he’s gotten older he has lost some of his power. Williams manages 1 rep, while Felix makes me look like a fool getting a massive 5 reps, which I think might be the best he’s done in this event with this bar and weight. Up next, its Singleton against Smith. Smith is really struggling just with 1 rep while Singleton goes way ahead of him getting 4 reps in before Smith even attempts a 2nd one. A bad event for Smith, which might cost him not just 2nd place overall, but maybe even a podium finish. Lastly we have the 2 favourites; Novikov and Boudreault. Novikov gets 6 reps with over 30 seconds left, and a 7th rep with ease and he knows he’s taken 1st place again. The world record is 8 reps, and I believe he easily had both the time and the energy to beat it, but why risk potential injury and loss of energy with 1 event left while he’s currently leading the pack? Boudreault only gets 2 reps, which was a surprise to me.
One event left, so lets check up on those points:
Novikov looks pretty unstoppable now. Hooper has swapped places with Smith, and Singleton is now realistically the only man capable of knocking him off the podium.
Event 5- Castle Stones
You know what this is all about; 5 stones ranging from 120kg to 200kg that need to be placed on the platforms in the fastest time. Novikov should be good here, going enough to take 1st place overall. Singleton is a beast at this event when he needs to be, and I feel that will place him on the podium, and knocking poor Paul Smith off. Hooper I’m not entirely sure on, as he could end up dropping down to third if he’s not careful. McClelland, Kearney, Remick, Bilton and Boudreault have all gone, with Boudreault leading with a time of 24.03 seconds for all 5 stones. Eddie Williams now up against Mark Felix, and its just for pride with these two men. While not the fastest time, Eddie manages all 5 stones which must be a great result for him. Felix gets 3 up and seems to have run out of energy. Singleton and Paul Smith time. Smith needs a good result here. Evan tears through the first 4, and takes current 2nd overall with the 5th stone. Smith is on the 5th stone, and he needs it up for as many points as possible, but he can’t do it on this day. I feel he’s off the podium now. Novikov and Hooper are out last, and its all eyes on Hooper really, as we know Novikov has basically won this competition. Can Hooper maintain his 2nd place? A mistake on the second stone from Hooper which is not something he needs, but he regroups and keeps on going, getting all 5 stones up to potentially keep that 2nd place. Novikov of course got all 5 up in a fast time to retain his title.
Boudreault didn’t really live up to his 3rd place at WSM 2021 reputation, but at least he had a great finish to the competition and hopefully he can rest up and perform even better at his next competition. Singleton needed a strong finish to make the podium and he did just that, while Novikov did more than enough to win.
And there is conformation of Novikov taking the win a 2nd year in a row, with Hooper maintaining that 2nd place and Singleton clawing back up to third. Smith sadly dropped down to 5th after what was a great competition until the final 2 events. Overall a great competition!