6 more men battling for 2 more places in the 2022 WSM Final! Yesterday, Tom Stoltman, the reigning champion along with newcomer Gabriel Rheaume solidified their places in the final. Today’s heat is STACKED!
Brian Shaw – USA – 4x World’s Strongest Man (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016)
Mitchell Hooper – Canada – 2022 World Tour Champion
Konstantine Janashia – Georgia – 4th Place WSM 2016
Bobby Thompson – USA – 9th Place WSM 2021
Gabriel Pena – Mexico – 2nd appearance at WSM
Mark Felix – England – 17th appearance at WSM
What a lineup! 4 of the 6 athletes have been in a WSM Final before. Brian Shaw has WON it 4 times, and came close to a 5th win last year when he was runner up. He has won his group for the last 12 years too. Felix might be nearing 60 and past his prime, so while he’s a veteran I don’t see him being a threat. Pena is still fairly new to the sport and I don’t see him really upsetting anyone here. The big 4 for me are Shaw, Hooper, Janashia and Thompson. Hooper the only man yet to be in a WSM Final, but given his performances in Giants Live already, he has to be a favourite. Crazy to think that only 2 of these strongmen can qualify!
Event 1 – Loading Race
75 seconds to load a 125kg cannonball, then a 125kg anvil, then a 120kg sack, a 120kg keg and then another 120kg sack IN ORDER. Should be a good event for pretty much everyone. Hooper and Felix are up first and Hooper is making Felix look slow. 54.96 seconds for Mark, with 38.31 seconds for Hooper, which is actually slightly faster that Tom Stoltman in the first heat! Pena against Thompson now, and its Pena looking the best on the first few objects, and finishes up faster too. Little bit of a surprise for Thompson but he is the heavier man. 49.70 seconds for him, and 45.88 seconds for Pena. Finally we have Shaw against Janashia. A few years ago Shaw would be the odds on favourite, however he has gotten much slower in recent years on this type of event. Last year he came into the final looking fitter and did much better, but here he seems to be a little heavy again. Hooper’s time is safe. 49.47 seconds for Janashia, and 45 seconds flat for Shaw which at least places him in 2nd.
Event 2 – Deadlift Ladder
5 weights from 300kg to 380kg to be lifted in order as quickly as possible in 75 seconds. First up, its Bobby Thompson and Mark Felix. Felix is the former king of deadlift, but not so much these days. That said, he can still pull out some good performances. He is going much quicker than Bobby, but both men reach the final lift at the same time and its Thompson who gets it up while Felix runs out of energy. 42.46 seconds for all 5 from Bobby! Janashia and Pena next, and both men are MASSIVE deadlifters, but Janashia seems to be the quicker puller. Janashia tries the 4th lift and walks away limping. I hope he isn’t injured. Pena keeps going and gets all 5, but in a slower time than Bobby. Shaw and Hooper now and I’m very interested to see this. Shaw is a former record holder in deadlift, but Hooper is just younger and faster and has amazing raw power. Wow, Hooper goes through the first 4 in under 20 seconds, then lifts the 5th in the fasted time! Shaw is much slower, and can’t even manage the 5th. Not what we would expect from the 4 time champion.
Event 3 – Car Walk
Next up, the strongmen have to walk with a 430kg car down a 20m course in the quickest time. Janashia against Shaw now, and its good to see Janashia is able to continue on with the competition. Janashia beats out Shaw, with Shaw looking slow for him. 18.16 seconds for the Georgian Bull, and 19.97 seconds for Shaw. Felix and Pena are out next to try and do better. Felix goes off like a rocket and finishes in around 15 seconds!!! Pena is having a hard time and sadly doesn’t finish the course. 13.96 seconds if the official time for Mark Felix, which is faster that Tom Stoltman yesterday! Now for Hooper and Thompson to show what they can do. Will Hooper run through this and get another event win? I think he did! Thompson was pretty fast but compared to Hooper he was slow. 16.05 for Bobby, but Hooper managed it in 11.64 seconds! 3 for 3 for the Canadian!
3 events down, 3 to go. Time to check in on the overall points:
Like Tom Stoltman in the first heat, Mitchell Hooper is running away with the competition with 3 event wins out of 3. A HUGE shock right now is that Brian Shaw is tied for 3rd place, and has finished 5th in 2 events. Luckily he is only 2 points away from that 2nd place for the advantage in the stone off. I don’t see him winning the group now. Janashia currently in last place is also a surprise, but based on the deadlift event, he might have hurt himself and is simply trying to power through.
Event 4 – Log Lift
Its the 150kg log again, to be lifted overhead as many times as possible. Shaw and Pena are up first, and while Shaw isn’t particularly fast he still has good overhead power. He needs to do really well though as Hooper and Thompson should be very good at this, and Janashia could surprise people too. Pena gets 1 rep and that’s it for him. 7 reps from Shaw in what has been his best performance yet. Janashia against Thompson time. Bobby Thompson is one of the best overhead pressers on the planet, and he’s going really well, getting 7 reps with plenty of time left for another, which he gets. Janashia, with a hip injury we’re told, gets an impressive 5 reps. Felix against Hooper to finish up, and I’m not expecting much from Felix who has never been a good overhead lifter. Hooper I’d expect to be good because, well, he just seems to be good at everything! He’s taking it slow, grinding out the reps without going all out. 6 reps with 15 seconds to go, and he just gets the 7th rep to tie with Shaw for 2nd. Felix was unable to get a single lift. Shaw has been granted a major lifeline here, with Pena and Felix, the two men he was tied with for 3rd overall, both finishing at the bottom of the table.
Event 5 – Wrecking Ball Hold
A 228g Wrecking Ball attached to a chain must be held off the ground for as long as possible. Felix is a master at grip events, while Shaw has had a bit of a dodgy grip going back to around 2012 when he suffered some nerve damage. A poor result for him here would potentially knock him out of even the stone off. We join the action with Felix already over a minute into his attempt. He lasts over 2 minutes, finally dropping it at 2 minutes 20.29 seconds!!! I don’t see ANYONE getting close to that time. 1 minuter 35 seconds was the winning time in heat 1, and that will be hard to match too. Janashia only manages 1 minute 1 second, with Pena only managing 48 seconds. That really helps Shaw out, as he takes his turn next. All he has to do is beat Pena to make it into the stone off. It will be the longest 48 seconds of his life. His grip begins to go after the 40 second mark, but he does it! He even beats out Janashia for some extra points in hopes of maybe finishing 2nd overall. 1 minute 6.13 seconds! Bobby Thompson did better though, with 1 minute 21.33 seconds, so we can safely assume that Shaw will finish 3rd going into the stone off. Similar to Tom Stoltman in heat 1, Hooper does a few seconds to gain a single point and sail into the final!
Conformation of Hooper making it to the final with relative ease. Thompson will have the advantage over Shaw in the stone off, but will it make a difference? Faires has the advantage in heat 1 and still failed to qualify, and Shaw is one of the best stone lifters of all time. Great result for Mark Felix being so close to the 3rd place finish after all these years still. Janashia will have to be disappointed with his placing, but it can’t be helped when he’s injured.
Event 6 – Stone Off
We have the castle stones, ranging from 150kg to 200kg, but instead of placing them on a platform, the athletes have to pass them over a bar to each other. Once they both pass a stone over to each other once, they move onto the next stone. This continues until either 1 guy fails to put it over the bar in the allotted time, or they get to all 5 stones and continue passing the heaviest stone until one man is unable to do it. This should be a showdown for the ages. Thompson is certainly built for stone lifting, but I have to admit I’m not as familiar with him in this event. Last year he won his group and didn’t have to do the stone off, then in the finals he was unfortunately injured and didn’t compete in the stones there either. Shaw is always guaranteed to be good at this, but anything can happen! And well, anything DID happen. Shaw lifted the first stone and passed it over, and Bobby couldn’t seem to grip it to send it back! Bobby has to be heartbroken with how it turned out, while Shaw will be extremely relieved.
And there we have it, Hooper and Shaw the next 2 men into the final. Hooper is looking damn near unstoppable and could very well be a podium finisher. Shaw hasn’t had to work this hard for a final before, and honestly I can’t see him repeating last year’s performance when he finished in 2nd. Maybe his time has finally come and gone.