After 5 gruelling qualifier heats, we are finally at the finals to determine the World’s Strongest Man 2023!
Tom Stoltman – Scotland – World’s Strongest Man 2021 & 2022
Pavlo Kordiyaka – Ukraine – Europe’s Strongest Man 2023
Oleksii Novikov – Ukraine – World’s Strongest Man 2020
Luke Stoltman – Scotland – Europe’s Strongest Man 2021
Mitchell Hooper – Canada – Arnold Strongman Classic winner 2023
Mathew Ragg – New Zealand – 2nd at World Tour Finals 2023
Brian Shaw – USA – 4x World’s Strongest Man (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016)
Jaco Schoonwinkel – South Africa – 1st World’s Strongest Man Appearance
Trey Mitchell – USA – Shaw Classic Champion 2021 & 2022
Evan Singleton – USA – World Open winner 2023
A great mix of old and new, with a whole bunch of championships between the 10 athletes competing today. I already made my predictions, which can be seen here, but to sum it up… I’m picking MITCHELL HOOPER!
Event 1 – Shield Carry
A 190kg shield has to be lifted up and carried the furthest distance without dropping it. This will favour the taller athlete as their bigger arms help them wrap all the way around the shield, resulting in a better grip. However, shorter guys can overcome this by simply being quicker! Up first is the 4x WSM, competing in his final WSM competition, Brian Shaw, along with Mathew Ragg. Shaw has the better grip, but it only gets him a couple of extra metres over this newcomer from New Zealand. 37.56m for Ragg, and 39.10m for Shaw. Now for Evan Singleton, who managed a few years of bad luck to get into the final for the first time, along with Luke Stoltman, a former finalist. Neither are able to lock hands like the taller athletes, so its all down to speed. They both manage to get further than Shaw and Ragg, with Singleton getting a little ahead of Stoltman! 44.62m for Luke, but the current leader in the event with 48.40m is Evan! Time now for the reining 2x champion Tom Stoltman, against my pick to win the championship this year Mitchell Hooper. Tom is going very, very well, while Hooper has to adjust early on and that slows him way down. Tom drops it over the 60m mark, while Hooper is slow and almost dropping the shield, but he inches further and futher to make sure he gets past the champ!!! An insane performance! 64.80m is the new target to beat from Hooper, with Stoltman just behind on 63.15m. Kordiyaka and Trey Mitchell are up next. Kordiyaka is off to a filer and MISSES THE TURN, which means a full length of the course (20m) is taken from him. Absolutely devastating as he was way ahead of even Hooper, but only gets given 46.59m. Trey manages to finish with 50.83m, placing him in current 3rd. Could this mistake be what ends up costing Kordiyaka the title? Only time will tell. Lastly we have 2020 champion Oleksii Novikov against another newcomer in Jaco Schoonwinkel. Novikov has a target and will be doing everything he can to beat it, while poor Schoonwinkel falls over a few seconds in. Novikov doesn’t go as far as he would have hoped, but is able to get past Trey for 3rd overall.
Event 2 – Knack Deadlift
2 massive Knack toolboxes on either end of the bar with a total weight of 353kg, to be lifted as many times as possible in 75 seconds! Last year Novikov won this event, though it was a car they were deadlifting, so can he do it again? First up was Ragg, getting 7 reps, which last year would have placed him in dead last in the deadlift event! That said I’m not entirely sure what the weight of the car was last year, so this could be heavier, or its just a case of the non standard lift causing issues. Still, 7 reps at that weight is crazy! Besides, he did do better than Schoonwinkel who sadly only managed 5. Luke Stoltman and Brian Shaw would go head ot head, with Luke only managing 3, a very poor result for him. Brian was able to get 7, which ties him in 1st. Kordiyaka, not know for deadlifting, was able to get 4 reps, with Singleton grabbing 5. Now its Novikov and Trey Mitchell, and as we finally get to watch them take the lifts, I can see that the bar is lower than usual, which definitely doesn’t help some strongmen. It should be good for Novikov though who has (still, I think?) the world record on this lower bar height, and he gets to 7 to continue a tie in 1st place with Shaw and Ragg… and Trey joins them too! Hooper and Tom Stoltman are out last, and honestly I don’t see either going back 7, but they should at least make it a massive tie at the top! Then again, Hooper goes and does it, getting 8 reps, while Tom just cannot lock out the 7th rep, sending him waaay down due to how many people tied on 7!
Event 3 – Fingal’s Fingers
The 5 massive fingers are back! They weight from 145kg to 172kg, and have to be flipped over 180 degrees in the quickest time possible! Tom and Brian SHOULD be the best at this, but so often we see people defying the odds and beating out the favourites! First up was Luke Stoltman and Pavlo Kordiyaka. Luke managed 4 in 32.54 seconds, with Pavlo got all 5 in 48.69 seconds. Following that was Evan Singleton and Jaco Schoonwinkel. 4 in 40.76 for Jaco, and all 5 in 49.85 seconds for Evan. Next up its Tom against Brian, exactly what we want to see! Tom NEEDS to do well here after the deadlift, while Brian also needs as many points as possible if he wants a podium finish in his final WSM competition. Shaw is the faster on the early ones, with Tom catching him on the 5th and using his power to get the win! Shaw meanwhile just gets stuck halfway, and the former best in the world at the fingers is unable to finish. A very quick 26.61 second for 4, but it won’t be good enough with so many getting all 5 over. Stoltman on the other hand got all 5 over in 39.36 seconds, almost 10 seconds faster than the fastest before him! Novikov and Ragg now have a target to beat, but I’m not sure either can come close. 4 down now for Novikov, and he does come close to Stoltman on the 5th, but misses out. Ragg on the other hand is a lot slower, and like Shaw he gets stuck half way and is unable to finish it. Good result for the newcomer though! 35.03 seconds for his 4, and Novikov with 5 in 42.26! The question now is what can Mitchell and Mitchell do? Trey has the old BIG Z build, and Zydrunas was incredible at this. Hooper is just incredible at anything he does, so this should be a great battle! Slip on the 3rd puts Trey a little behind, but he’s able to catch up to Hooper still, and might pip him on the 5th! And he does! About a second ahead, as both get 5 over, but neither come close to Tom’s time. In fact, the second or so difference between them has Hooper dropping down to 6th place, with Trey in 3rd!
We are now halfway through the WSM 2023 Final, so lets see the scores!
Going into event 3, Hooper had a six point lead over Tom Stoltman who was down in 4th. Now he only has a 1 point lead over Stoltman who has moved into 3rd, and half a point over Novikov! The top 4, with Trey Mitchell, is looking like they are moving away from the rest of the pack, but its so close between them!
Event 4 – Max Dumbbell
Time for a first at WSM, the max dumbbell! Huge dumbbells, starting at 115kg and will keep going up in weight until we have a winner, must be pressed overhead one handed! Novikov is KING of this event, but how well will Stoltman and Hooper do? First up then is Schoonwinkel, who was unable to press the first dumbell and sadly tore his ACL, ending his fantastic debut at WSM. Hopefully he can heal up and be back next year with more experience! Everyone else has lifted the 115kg, and even the 125kg dumbbell, so the weight moves up once again! 132kg proves too much for Mathew Ragg, but Luke Stoltman is successful and sets a new British record with the lift! Time to join in the action with Brian Shaw taking the stage. In his prime I would have had Shaw in the top 3 on this event, but these days he doesn’t quite have the power he once did. He makes three good attempts but is unsuccessful. After him, we see Hooper, Singleton, Kordiyaka, Novikov and Stoltman all make the weight, with Trey not managing it. 6 men left in the event as we now move up to a massive 140kg. First to try is Luke Stoltman, and while he does press it out, he doesn’t hold it long enough to get the lift! A second effort, and he cannot lock out this time, probably due to the energy he wasted on the first, and that’s it for him. So close! Hooper is up next for his turn, and while his first try is, frankly, awful by his standards, he takes another turn and gets it seemingly with ease! Can Singleton also get 140kg? Yes. Yes he can! Kordiyaka is up next and honestly I’m a little surprised he has made it this far in the event. He has a good first attempt but doesn’t make it. A little break and another try, and the same thing. Here comes the KING, Oleksii Novikov. He almost gets it but loses balance. While he has done more than this in terms of weight, the size of the dumbbell is bigger than anything he’s used before, and on this day not even he can get it up. Lastly then, its Tom Stoltman. His pressing ability has massively improved year over year to the point where he regularly beats his brother Luke in pressing events. On this day though, both he and Luke have failed on the 140kg. Now its the BIG one. 145kg. Two men left. Hooper is up first, and despite a very good attempt, he misses it. A good second attempt and… also misses it. But he finishes ahead of Novikov and Stoltman which is what really matters. Singleton is the only man left, and he would be thrilled to win an event in the WSM Finals after taking so long to get here. A couple of good attempts but he too is unable to get it. At least he does win the event, albeit tied with Hooper!
Event 5 – Bus Pull
A huge 25.5 ton Bus to be pulled down the course in the fasted time possible! Can Novikov shock the world and win this event again? Or will Stoltman pull out a much needed win? First up was Mathew Ragg, finishing in 36.79 seconds. Then Shaw in a time of 32.65 seconds. Just ahead, by less than a second is Trey Mitchell with 32.49 seconds! Luke Stoltman was just behind, again by less than a second, finishing in 32.83 seconds. However, taking current 1st atm is Pavlo Kordiyaka with a time of 32.46 seconds! So many times separated by less than a second! Time now for Novikov. With a heavier bus this year, it really will be a miracle for him to beat out everyone else 2 years in a row. Sadly, no miracle, finishing in 33.35 seconds which is only good for current 5th. Tom has to be the favourite now, and despite what seems like a slow start, he picks up a ton of speed and finishes in 32.27 seconds! Almost everyone is finishing in 32 seconds! Will Hooper finish above his rival Tom once again? He looks very, very good, to the point where he throws away the rope that the athletes use to pull themselves along… and finishes in an insane time of 30.24 seconds!!! Its not over yet though, as Evan Singleton is still to come. He seems to struggle towards the end, but still makes it in a time of 32.27 seconds… the EXACT same time as Tom!
An incredibly tight event! Now to see what the overall scores are going into the final event!
Hooper now has a 5.5 point lead over Tom going into the final event, after winning all but 2 events over the entire time at WSM between the heats and finals so far!!! However, with Tom being so good at Stones, one small mistake could still cost Hooper the title. As for the 3rd place finish, Novikov, Singleton and Trey Mitchell could all walk away with it still!
Event 6 – Atlas Stones
The 5 huge stones are back, and have to be placed on platforms of equal size rather than the castle stones we see at Giants Live and other events with platforms that get lower as you go along. Tom is king at this, but he’ll need Hooper to have a real bad time to knock him off the top spot! First up is Mat Ragg, getting 4 up in 49.50 seconds. A good end to his first WSM Final, and he is definitely someone to watch out for going forward. Luke was a second faster than that, with Shaw also only getting 4 but in a time of around 35 seconds. No podium finish for the former 4x champion, but he’s had an incredible career and can be proud of everything he did in this final too! Next was the turn of Pavlo, managing 4 in 45.86 seconds, and Trey who did it in around the same time… except he got all 5 stones up! A good finish for him, and that will help his podium finish chances for sure. Novikov and Singleton went head to head, with Novikov getting 4 in a super fast time of 27.43 seconds, a second quicker than Evan Singleton, meaning Novikov will remain on the podium, finishing 3rd for a second year running. So it all comes down to this. Hooper Vs Stoltman. Canada Vs Scotland. Hooper has to finish 7th or lower, with Stoltman finishing 1st in order for Tom to retain. Last year Hooper was 9th and Tom was 1st, so it CAN happen. I just don’t see it going that way this year. Tom gets all 5 up in the quickest time… but HOOPER also gets all 5 up, and the title goes to Canada for the first time ever!!!
So there we have it. The World’s Strongest Man of 2023 is the man I also predicted to win; MITCHELL HOOPER! Absolutely dominant in the heats, and dominant here in the finals too. He was undoubtedly the BEST this year, and if he keeps up like this, he might be the best for a while yet! Then we have Tom Stoltman in 2nd place, which quite honestly is a massive achievement for him given that he took 9 months off after winning last year. Next year, if both he and Hooper remain active in their training, we are going to have an even better battle for sure! Congrats to Novikov on another podium finish as well. Nice to see Trey in 4th place, as while he didn’t have any standout performances in the final, he was consistently good throughout. Evan on the same points but ends a place below Trey, but he too has to be extremely pleased to be in the top 5 in a strong final after taking 4 years to get here. Pavlo maybe didn’t do as well as expected, especially after his mistake on the first event, but 6th in the WORLD is absolutely nothing to be disappointed with! And of course we say goodbye to Brian Shaw, competing in his final WSM. Not the finish he would have wanted, but to still be 7th in the world after so many years of competing at the highest level is a massive achievement!