World’s Strongest Man 2020 – The Review

WSM 2020 was eventful to say the least. In a year of uncertainty the organisers at WSM were adamant to push on and provide a safe tournament whilst still being as brilliant as ever. I can officially say that they succeeded.

There were many challenges to overcome, obviously. However a big one was the personnel. So who didn’t compete this year?

In terms of notable names there were a few obvious ones although please forgive me if I miss out anyone.

  • Martins Licis (WSM 2019 Winner)
  • Mateusz Kieliszkowski (A strong contender for this year who pulled out after popping his triceps from the bone)
  • Rob Kearney (A brilliant log lifter and a competitor who only seems to be getting better, also suffering the type of injury as Kieliszkowski)
  • Hafþór Björnsson (Commonly known as Thor or The Mountain – WSM 2018 Winner) [Currently training for the World’s Heaviest Boxing Match since retiring from the sport officially in August]
  • Laurence Shahlaei (Recently taken a step back from the sport after an Achilles injury at WSM 2019)
  • Eddie Williams (World record tank puller)
  • Konstantine Janashia
  • Cheick ‘Iron Biby’ Sanou

Despite this there was still a stellar cast that came to thrash it out to see who could be this years World’s Strongest Man.

These 25 competitors included :

  • Brian Shaw (4xWSM)
  • Robert Oberst
  • Graham Hicks
  • Terry Hollands
  • Luke Richardson (Europe’s Strongest Man 2020)
  • Gabriel Pena
  • Oleksii Novikov
  • Mark Felix
  • JF Caron
  • Evan Singleton
  • Ervin Toots
  • Adam Bishop
  • Trey Mitchell
  • Bobby Thompson
  • Aivars Smaukstelis
  • Gavin Bilton
  • Jerry Pritchett
  • Maxime Boudreault
  • Mikhail Shivlyakov
  • Nick Best
  • Pa O’Dwyer
  • Tom Stoltman
  • Luke Stoltman
  • Eyhtor Ingolfsson Melsted
  • Kevin Faires

It is clear to be seen that the quality in this group is present. It was however a common opinion that it was Brian Shaw’s competition to lose. As we all now know it didn’t go so swimmingly for the 4 time WSM winner. Despite being fuelled by the fire of winning a record-equalling fifth WSM title, it just wasn’t meant to be this time around. It may be fair to say that strongman in recent years as become the leaner man’s sport and this was where Shaw seemed to be exposed. (Although it must be said that by lean I still mean over 20 stone). However, Shaw has recently stated he will be looking to cut some weight in 2021 and reassess his position ahead of WSM 2021.

This statement was characterised and proven by the brilliant win by Ukrainian strongman Oleksii Novikov who took his first WSM title at the young age of 24 becoming the youngest ever winner of the competition. On route to the title the youngster broke the World Record for the 18inch deadlift at a massive 537.5kg! Whilst this was the only finals event that he topped, Novikov placed in the top 5 for every single event. This allowed him to rack up high points in every event.

A notable blemish on the final was the disappointing injury to Britain’s Graham Hicks who made his first final this year. He suffered a torn bicep on the Giant’s Medley which rendered him withdrawn from the rest of the final. It is a disappointing fate for Hicks considering his massive log lifting ability and the log lift ladder event which was later on in the final. Alongside this he is also a good deadlifter which was another final event, making the injury all the more tough to take.

Despite this disappointment for British fans, they were still able to watch in awe at the younger half of The Stoltman Brothers; Tom Stoltman. Known as The Albatross due to his massive wingspan, the Scot performed exceptionally throughout the final – winning 3 of the 5 events. It could be said that he may have won the entire competition had he not fumbled the anvil carry in the Giants Medley which hampered his time. Despite this he still managed to finish fifth in the event and on viewing showed a rapid fast yoke carry that made it look much lighter than it was. Whilst this is disappointing for the big Scot, it is an encouragement in the preparation for WSM 2021.

JF Caron also finished on the podium for the first time in his career with an impressive display, pipping American Jerry Pritchett to 3rd who was back at WSM for the first time in 5 years. The Canadian won the Hercules Hold and demonstrated a professional and impressive display in all of the final events. The fairly new competitor known as ‘The Future’ Luke Richardson had a maybe disappointing final considering his placement although it can be said that he has talent and time well on his side. This years Britain’s Strongest Man Adam Bishop started the final on fire winning the first event and placing 2nd in the following event however it can be said that he slowed down as the final went on but still finished in an impressive sixth.

Overall it was an ever exciting WSM despite the lack of a crowd and some familiar faces. This big win for the young Ukrainian has set up a brilliant showdown between many hungry Strongmen come the 2021 contest.

Here’s how the final 10 shaped up :

  1. Oleksii Novikov
  2. Tom Stoltman
  3. JF Caron
  4. Jerry Pritchett
  5. Brian Shaw
  6. Adam Bishop
  7. Kevin Faires
  8. Aivars Smaukstellis
  9. Luke Richardson
  10. Graham Hicks

With 5 Brits in the final 10 this year the home nations are quite literally flexing their muscles and with the British scene only improving year on year – how many could we see in the grand finale this time next year?

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