This is the 40th Anniversary of Worlds Strongest Man, we already know the outcome of Worlds Strongest Man 2017, it spread like wildfire across Britain when Eddie Hall brought it home after 24 yrs away, even if there was a little controversy. We can finally watch for ourselves and see what the fuss was about. I’m not entirely sure if Hafthor had been allowed that extra rep, if it would have been a win for him.
What has been clear through the qualifiers and heats has how the sport is changing, looking at the incoming talent is slowing leaner, more explosive and almost as powerful athletes. More interestingly has been those monster power houses of old who have lost a heap of weight and look amazing all lean and trim. At first it appears the price of this lean figure is their raw-power, we all know Mass-Moves-Mass. Lean isn’t really what you think about when you think Strongman, I still find it hard to imagine Eddie Hall was an Olympic level swimmer, but you certainly don’t think CrossFit would go hand in hand with a current Strongman legend. When I heard about such a thing, it wasn’t clear who it was, but I discovered it was Britain’s own, the one and only Mark Felix. I spoke to Mark Felix a few years ago when I heard this rumour, thinking someone was playing a joke on me. Yeah Yeah Usain Bolt is powerlifting too, it just did not make sense. However the British Legend was happy to have a little chat with me at an event and I pondered would his strength and raw power was the price. Initially this did seem the case, but sadly he retired from WSM after ripping the bicep head clean off the bone. Heartbreakingly his year won’t be the year he breaks his own world record 9 appearances in the WSM Grand Final. He was one of many many who this year was taken out with injuries but he seemed to be going well and regaining his lost strength, but we didn’t see his full potential.
Another such person is another of Britain’s Legends, Terry Hollands who has lost a heap of weight resulting in an impressive transformation complete with a 6 pack. A huge part of this seems to be from the amazing Kate Errington (Left) kicking him up a gear. Watching the WSM TV coverage of the qualifiers and it was looking a little like that 6 pack may have taken the powder keg of explosives out of him. This trend doesn’t carry over to the actual heats where he’s putting in a killer performance. One of the most memorable was his part in the final event of the qualifiers. Terry recently posted to say he’s getting back the strength he lost and getting stronger all the time. Watching the changes from Qualifiers to Heats, you can see this power coming back for sure, over just a few months.
If you remember Mariusz Pudzianowski was quite lean, so its possible with his new physique he pack a heap of muscle on and come back way more powerful. Speaking of Kate, she won at the Arnolds USA this year, and finally got her long overdue (in my opinion) IFBB Pro Card. Both Terry and Kate are sponsored by Alpha, so certainly worth checking out their products. I’m certainly going to be keeping an eye on that, and should you want to follow in Terry’s footsteps, Kate is available for training/meal plans/etc and is genuinely one of the nicest people I have met. Plus she can breath fire 😉
Raw Power Isn’t Enough
The changing landscape of Strongman is starting to make the mammoth guys a little outmoded, Felix and Hollands could well be ahead of the curve. The advent of Last Man Standing this year saw Matjaz Belsak and Terry Hollands put in some stand up performances, both stuck in my mind. This changing landscape will certainly favour the fitter guys like Britain’s Terry Hollands, Russia’s Mikhail Shivlyakov, USA’s Martins Licis and Poland’s Mateusz Kieliszkowski. The latter three along with the raging Georgian bull Konstantine Janashia are very clearly the next generation of Big Z, Shaw and Hafthor, and Iron Biby maybe the next OD Wilson, certainly the same crazed power.
Last Man Standing
This new final event of the heats, is basically a 160kg Atlas Stone, which is usually the middle ball of 5, has to be lifted up 4ft 6in and passed over the bar. Each man then has 10 seconds to pick it up, and pass it back. The 10 seconds both starts and ends the moment the stone hits the floor on each side. There is a good sportsmanship rule about about dropping the ball inside the centre square to give the other man a better chance but some didn’t observe this. If the ball rolls around the ring, precious time and energy are wasted stopping it and returning it to the square to lift.
— World's Strongest (@WorldsStrongest) June 22, 2017
This new event seemed a little unfair, some of the underdogs really pulled out something special and powered on with a display of impressive performance of raw grit and determination. I would hope this event gets a little more tweaking next year as at least 1 or 2 people who clearly weren’t the strongest survived this, and some who should have won didn’t. As Colin Bryce said all so often, this event gives everyone a fighting chance. I can see some people training almost exclusively for this and saving energy during the main events so take the win here. We saw something like this from Big Z and Hollands, only the latter performed well.
Injury Time Galore
This year there seemed to be way way more injuries than normal. One of the heats nearly ended with a 2 man last man sanding, they are supposed to be 2+1+1+1, but one only has 3 people left by the end. Was Mark Felix who ripped a bicep off the bone, another guy did his hamstring, another his tricep.
Zydrunas Savisckas appears to be really suffering with the spinal/neck injuries and surgery, but appeared to sustain no new injuries in his possibly poorest show to date.
I can’t remember who it was now, but one guy dropped like 300kg on his shoulder and just shrugged it off. I think we are reaching the limits of the current generation of strongmen. In the past Bill Kazmeier held the World Record for Deadlift in the 300kg range, then Z in the 400s now Eddie in the 500, maybe time for the the new guys in their 20s to take it up a step and pushing to the 600s.
Here’s To The Future
I said it last year Martins Licis (USA), Mateusz Kieliszkowski (Poland), Mikhail Shivlyakov (Russia), Konstantine Janashia (Georgia) and new man Iron Biby are very bright stars. You can see huge improvements in the former 2, and Konstantine hugely improved especially with the Atlas Stones, experience last year clear gave him the same leg up that Eddie’s taste of the podium did for him. The Russian Marine is impressive, if he carries on and packs some mass on it, he’s going to be a terrifying force in WSM.
I was so hoping Big Z would hit 5x but all those injuries he has came back from, once its your spine or neck, it doesn’t look good. Geoff Capes has spoken many times about the issues he’s faced, the potential is catastrophic. If anyone in the current top tier can make it to 5x WSM, its going to be Brian Shaw. If Z doesn’t perform a miracle, Hafthor maybe getting his shot in 2019 or 2020, no Z, no Eddie, leaves a power vacuum with some impressive new blood waiting to fill it.
A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.