The final 2 places will be filled tonight, and oh boy do we have yet another stacked heat!
- Oleskii Novikov – WSM 2020
- Luke Stoltman – Europe’s Strongest Man 2021
- Bobby Thompson – 2nd WSM Appearance
- Kevin Faires – 7th Place WSM 2020
- Ervin Toots – 3rd Place Europe’s Strongest Man 2020
The reigning, defending, World’s Strongest Men Oleskii Novikov will be extremely difficult to beat, and I expect him to head into the final with relative ease. Luke Stoltman, despite making the finals 2 years ago, was never someone I thought was that much of a threat… however his current run in 2021 has been amazing, and he’s become one of THE strongmen right now. He’ll be going into this with a ton of confidence, and he’ll need it. Kevin Faires, despite being one of the lightest strongmen around, always does very well and of course made the final last year. Ervin Toots might not be the biggest name around, but he has the tools to do well. Bobby Thompson narrowly missed out on making the finals last year and he will not want a repeat of that. This final heat is definitely one where EVERYONE has a genuine chance of making the finals!
Event 1 – Loading Medley
An event that, frankly, should favour everyone. As we’ve seen in all the previous heats though, the frame carry is incredible tough and the placements will all depend on how well they do there. Toots and Thompson are up first, and yeah, its all down to the frame. Thompson does a great job, but the grip goes on his left hand and he has to drop it, but is able to pick it up again and gets it over the line! Toots only manages just under 3m, but we’ve seen worse! Faires against Stoltman time, and Luke absolutely manhandles the 3 implements to load them, and is a full implement ahead of Faires. Plenty of time for the frame carry, and both men are getting some distance, but its FAIRES who not only finishes the course first, but in a single movement! Only the champion can challenge that performance, and you’d be a fool to bet against him. He’s fast on the loading part, but as I continue to say every day, its all down to the frame. And well, he isn’t going that well here, and I think that’ll only be good enough for 3rd. Oh no, 4th!
Event 2 – Dead Lift
This event should put Novikov back on top of the pile though. He broke a world record in the deadlift during last year’s finals, so we know he’s great at this. Everyone else are probably somewhat equal here, so it’ll be interesting to see what everyone does. Up first was Toots, managing 3 reps, which I don’t think will be nearly enough. Thompson against Novikov now, and I’m expecting 7 or 8 reps from at least Novikov alone. Thompson is the one ahead on reps right now though, reaching 8 already, and grinding out a tough 9th. Novikov seems to have gotten to 6 and perhaps given up… no, he’s back for another, but time is up. Not quite the result he would have expected, but Thompson did extremely well. Luke and Kevin now, and I don’t see them matching or bettering Thompson, but the 6 reps from Novikov might put him down the table 2 events in a row. Faires has reached 6, while Stoltman is on 5. He NEEDS another rep to at least equal the champ, and he manages it while Faires is unable to get 7.
Event 3 – Fingal’s Fingers
Toots went first again, getting 3 in just under 30 seconds. Now we join the action with Novikov against Stoltman. Stoltman has the height for this time of event, but Novikov should still do well, and he’ll need to as he’s currently in 4th place! Both get the 4th finger over, and I think Novikov just beat Stoltman by a fraction of a second. Neither can manage the 5th though, but it does mean the champion will finish at worst 3rd, which is better than the previous 2 events. It all comes down to the final 2 men, Bobby and Kevin. Thompson looks like someone who should fly through the first few, while Faires being so light might prevent him from finishing the 4th one in a good time. Both however are tied on 3, and finish almost at the exact same time for the 4th! Both are behind Novikov though so they give the 5th a go but they can’t do it. Faires did much better than I was expecting, while Novikov is back on top finally.
A rough start for the reigning champion, but that event win will certainly help his cause going into the finals. We are at the half way point now, so time to see where everyone places so far.
Well, it is extremely tight between 4 men, with Toots sadly being out of contention at this moment. I can’t call it!
Event 4 – Overhead Medley
Another event that should favour almost all of the athletes. Stoltman is one of the best pressers on the planet. Thompson is hugely powerful. Novikov is strong and tends to do better in these events than perhaps he should thanks to his technique. Faires is the only one I’m unsure of as he just keeps improving so much year after year. Toots went first again, and only managed 2 lifts. We join in on the action with Faires against Thompson. I think we’ll probably see both men do all 4 here. Faires is the quicker on the dumbbells, and that gives him the opportunity to beat Thompson who is probably the stronger of the two when it comes to pure power. Both men get all 4 lifts though, but the time of Faires, under 30 seconds, will prove hard for our next 2 athletes to beat! He’s looking very good for the finals again! Stoltman and Novikov know what they have to beat, and I have no idea if they’ll do it. Novikov is flying atm, as is Luke, and they BOTH beat Faires! Impressive as hell! Novikov takes the win though.
Event 5 – Pickaxe Hold
It is still very close between the top 4 athletes, and this is the type of event that can turn everything on its head. Sometimes the guys at the bottom can finish first, and vice-versa. Toots was up first, and managed 24.42 seconds. Doesn’t sound a lot, but I’ve seen some of the best strongmen fail HARD at this type of holding event. Faires and Thompson go head to head once again, and they both go past Toots. Under 40 for Faires and over 40 for Thompson. That time might very well hold up for Thompson. Novikov and Stoltman now, and Kovikov does not look comfortable and he drops it much earlier than he would have wanted. Stoltman seems to drop it just because HE wanted to, rather than going the distance. I wonder how this will effect the scores!
Oh wow. What this means… is that BOBBY THOMPSON wins the group, and heads straight into the final… while Stoltman and Faires go into the stone off. THE REIGNING CHAMPION IS OUT! Oleskii Novikov will not be defending his title this year! A huge shock right there! If Luke had held on to the pickaxe for 1 more second he would have advanced to the finals. A big mistake, but one he can make up for next!
Event 6 – Stone Off
Stoltman is the favourite on paper for this event… but given the fact the current WSM is out, ANYTHING can happen! Luke seems to be a little slower at picking up the stone and passing it, but his lifts do look strong. Faires almost doesn’t make the 6th stone, which doesn’t bode well for a second lift, but he makes it! Now can Luke match him?!?! Yes! But only just. If Faires passes it a third time I’m not sure Luke can match it… but in a heartbreaking moment, Faires is unable to get it over the bar. So very, very close. Both men deserved to get through, but in the end its Luke Stoltman who joins his brother in the finals!
And there is confirmation of Bobby Thompson and Luke Stoltman being the final 2 athletes to make the finals. Yesterday was a crazy heat for various reasons, and this was just as crazy for entirely different reasons! Reigning champion is out, and a new champion is guaranteed. Luke Stoltman was a second away from winning his heat and missing out on the stone off, but a simple mistake almost cost him. Thompson performed well consistently and it paid off for him. Faires was THIS CLOSE to making another final, but against a stone lifter the calibre of Stoltman meant he was always at a disadvantage. It’ll be one helluva final, and next year will be crazy competitive once again when the likes of Faires and Novikov return for redemption! Tomorrow is the finals of course, and earlier in the day I’ll be posting my predictions list, so keep a look out for that!