Only 6 more places in the 2022 WSM Final are left, and 2 of them will be taken after this heat!
Oleksii Novikov – Ukraine – World’s Strongest Man 2020
Adam Bishop – England – Britain’s Strongest Man 2020
Trey Mitchell III – USA – Shaw Classic 2021 Champion
Rob Kearney – USA
Mika Torro – Finland – First WSM Appearance
Grzegorz Szymanski – Poland – 8th Place at 2016 WSM
Another very stacked group! We have the 2020 champion and reigning Europe’s Strongest Man in Oleksii Novikov. We have former Britain’s Strongest Man and multiple WSM Finalist Adam Bishop. 2021 Shaw Classic winner and finalist at WSM last year (beating Tom Stoltman in the group stage). Former finalist way back in 2016 Grzegorz Szymanski, who if he’s anything like before, will be a force to reckon with. Rob Kearney, who hasn’t made a final before but always puts on a great showing. Then finally we have Mika Torro, the first Finnish athlete at WSM in NINE YEARS (hoping to repeat the sucess of 2x champion Jouko Ahola and 1x champion Janne Virtanen). Novikov and Mitchell I believe are the two favourites, but Bishop should never be counted out. Plus, you have to remember that last year Novikov didn’t qualify for the finals despite being the defending champion. ANYTHING could happen!
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. First up its Torro against Szymanski. Szymanski used to be excellent at this event, so I’m curious to see how he does. Torro is a massive man, but also 43 years of age, so we need to see what his stamina is. Szymanski looks like no time has past since his last appearance, as he’s making mincemeat out of these objects! Sadly he takes a stumble on the final sack, and this allows Torro to beat him. Bad luck for Szymanski, but a good result for Torro in his first event. Now time for Kearney against Bishop. A massive mistake for Kearney as he doesn’t load the cannonball properly and needs to pick it back up again. He is now a full implement behind. Bish takes the win, and beats out Torro’s time as well. Sadly I don’t see it holding up with Novikov still to come. Kearney does manage to finish up though, despite the mistake. Finally its Novikov against Mitchell. Novikov should win this easy due to this speed. Mitchell has a ton of power but he’s pretty THICC which could slow him down, at least compared to Novikov. Event 1 win for the former champ, while Mitchell I think only takes 3rd overall.
Event 2 – Deadlift Ladder
The 5 weights are back again, ranging from 300kg to 380kg, all to be lifted in the quickest time possible. Novikov, Bishop and Mitchell should all be able to lift the full 5, so speed will have to determine the winner. Kearney isn’t too bad at deadlift but in this heat he doesn’t stand a chance. Torro I have no clue on, and I seem to recall Szymanski not being the best deadlifter either. Kearney and Szymanski went first, with Szymanski only managing 2 lifts. Kearney did much better with 4 lifts, but as I said, in this heat you need all 5 in a good time to win. Torro and Mitchell are up now, with Mitchell seemingly taking his time on the lifts, which is a surprise because surely he knows Novikov will be fast, as will Bish. Maybe he’s just doing enough to make sure he takes 3rd without using up too much energy trying to compete with the top 2 deadlifters in the group. All 5 for him as expected though, in 59 seconds. Torro managed 2 lifts. Novikov and Bishop to finish things off, and it should be a good race between them. Novikov leads the way, then slows down on the final rep as Bishop nearly catches him by lifting the final weight much easier. Novikov with another event win, and another second place for Bishop.
Event 3 – Car Walk
430kg car to be lifted and walked down a 20m course. I think I’ll stick to a dog walk. Novikov once again the favourite here, and while Bishop is fantastic at things like the super yoke, Mitchell might be the better pick for second place just because of him being a larger man and likely finding it easier to balance the car. Szymanski and Torro are up first, with Szymanski finally looking like the strongman of old, finishing in 14.26 seconds. Torro really struggled to get the car up, and is unable to complete the course. Kearney goes against Mitchell now. WOW, Kearney makes it seem like he’s driving down the course rather than running! Finally an event for him to excel at! Mitchell “only” does it in 19.24 seconds, which I think will be a poor result overall. Kearney though, he finished in a fantastic time of 11.63 seconds. That was 0.01 seconds faster than even Mitchell Hooper in the previous heat! Now though, its Novikov and Bishop. Can either of them beat that amazing time from Rob? Nope, not even close! In fact, they both fail to beat Szymanski! Bishop does even worse, dropping the car a few times and finishing behind Mitchell. I guess I was correct after all. Fantastic to see the fast times from earney and Szymanski though, as both men have made a come back from cancer and are proving they can still beat the best of the best when they want to!
We are at the half way point now, so let’s see what the overall points are atm:
That incredible car walk puts Kearney right into the mix again, only 1 point behind Bishop in 2nd place, and currently in line for the stone off. Novikov is looking good in 1st place, but right now the battle for second and third is the most interesting with 3 men aiming for 2 places.
Event 4 – Log Lift
145kg log to be pressed overhead as many times in 75 seconds. Novikov should do well, but it might be Mitchell who is the overall favourite for the event. Kearney is also excellent at log pressing, so it’ll be up to Bishop to try and get as many points as possible in this event. First up then, we have Bishop against Torro. 2 reps for Torro, which for someone new to the sport and with his size being a disadvantage, is really impressive. Bishop did better than I expected with 7 reps, which puts him up there with the best of the best in previous heats. Mitchell and Novikov are out next, and I would be surprised if neither man at least matches Bishop. Mitchell has the pure POWER to do it, but he could tire out quicker than Novikov. Well, they both get to 7 with plenty of time left, and they both finish on 9 reps. It all rests on what kearney does now as to how well Bishop will do in the points. Kearney and Szymanski are last of course, and this could be the event to take Kearney into 2nd place. Szymanski’s elbows aren’t what they used to be, so locking out is difficult for him, and as a result he is only able to get 3 reps. Kearney makes it to 6, and gives it a helluva try for 7 but just doesn’t make it on this day. He will now need to do very well in the 5th event to grab one of the stone off places.
Event 5- Wrecking Ball Hold
Who can hold the 228kg wrecking ball off the ground for the longest? Torro was up first and he lasted a massive 1 minute and 53.17 seconds! I’ve said it many times now, but these types of grip events always seem to favour the athletes at the lower end of the table for whatever reason. Szymanski was next, finishing in 1 minute 46.49 seconds. Kearney after that, but only lasted 1 minute 1 second. Mitchell was after him, and with a time of 2 minutes 6.46 seconds, Rob will need Bishop to do horribly if he has any chance of the stone off now. Adam Bishop took his turn, managing 1 minute 31.35 seconds. Keeps him ahead of Kearney for the stone off now, but will allow Mitchell to leapfrog him into 2nd place for the advantage. Novikov, like the previous heat winners before him, only needed the 1 point to sail into the final, but instead he put on a show and managed 1 minute 38.63 seconds.
So here we have conformation of Novikov winning the group, with Mitchell and Bishop going into the stone off.
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 is not where Bishop would want to be, especially against someone like Trey Mitchell who is a fantastic stone lifter. They get to the final stone, and it looks much harder for Bishop than it does for Trey. Bishop goes for a second pass of the stone, but it bounces back off the bar and he has to lift it again with only 10 seconds. He manages it, but that will drain more energy from him. He is doing incredible to keep up with Trey, but he is definitely tiring more and more with every lift. In the end, he is unable to pass it back a 6th time, and Trey Mitchell is the winner. A fantastic stone off!
Novikov gains redemption for last year, and Mitchell sadly knocks out Adam Bishop, but he was impressive as always and will be looking to go at least 1 place better in the final than last year (he finished 4th).