Britain’s Strongest Man 2012 – Results
Britain’s Strongest Man made a welcome return on Saturday May 26th at the Crowne Plaza Five Lakes complex in Colchester, Essex. As part of the ‘Hercules Olympia’, the cream of British strength talent assembled in readiness for a battle to take the top prize in domestic strongman. A win here would put the victor in the same company as legends including Geoff Capes, Jamie Reeves and Gary Taylor. With the third and fourth places finishers at WSM 2011, Terry Hollands and Laurence Shahlaei in attendance and resuming their rivalry, the calibre of athletes was extremely high. Amongst those joining them were current and former WSM competitors Rob Frampton, Jack McIntosh and Brian Irwin. 2011 UKSM Ed Hall was looking to continue his rapid rise as well, which had already seen him earn a place at the Giants Live contest in Melbourne in March of this year. Also competing were 2011 junior UKSM Ken Nowicki, and the runner-up at England’s Strongest Man in 2011, Tom Shaw. Others who hoped to make an impact were the field athlete turned strength athlete Chris Gearing, and Graham Hicks, who had previously competed in the under 105kg division and has overhead strength in abundance. The remaining competitors, including national champions drawn from all over Britain had more than earned their qualification and invitations.
Starting off the action was arguably the purest test of strength there is: the deadlift for maximum weight. To give an indication of the level that these competitors are at, the opening lift was 325kgs. As many had predicted, it came down to a shoot-out between Hollands and Shahlaei. Given that Shahlaei had pulled a British record 430kgs at the London round of Giants Live in 2011, and Hollands trumped that with his 432kgs at WSM 2011, the event promised an explosive start. Hicks showed that he was a real contender with 375kgs, but he was not able to complete the milestone 400kg lift that followed it. Alex Curletto, lifting as a guest competitor for Italy, made 400kgs but nothing more, as did the impressive Gearing and Hall. Hollands and Shahlaei were clearly highly charged, with Hollands almost at the bar and ready to lift as soon as Shahlaei had removed his straps from it each time that he followed him. Hollands and Shahlaei lifted 400kgs with remarkable ease and speed, doing the same with 410kgs. The British top two decided to up the weight to 432.5kgs to break the British record, and both were successful, emphasising that in this discipline they were vastly superior to everyone else.
Event number two was the log lift for maximum weight, with Shahlaei as the British record holder well placed to take the top spot. Although he was a newcomer in this field, a dark horse in the event was Hicks, whose log lifting exploits are well known to the keenest of domestic strongman enthusiasts. Shahlaei and Hicks did not disappoint, neither did Frampton who was thankfully free at this point from the sciatica which has blighted his career of late. Shahlaei came out on top with an explosive 190kgs, whilst Hicks and Frampton shared second place with 180kgs. Hicks was very close to actually lifting the 190kg log, but was unable to stabilise the weight as he moved backwards on the platform. Shahlaei thus maintained his lead at the top of the leaderboard, with Hollands, Gearing, Hicks and Frampton all still in contention.
The field was cut to ten men after the deadlift and log, with the yoke and frame to be decided by those who remained. The pattern of the first two events continued, with Shahlaei taking first place. Hollands, in an event which is usually a very good one for him, had a poor start and was not able to regain the ground that he lost on Shahlaei during their head to head match up, having to settle for second spot. Once again, Hicks impressed here, taking third place and he remained in the top half of the overall standings. This event proved to be the end for Frampton though, who was unable to continue after a recurrence of a long-standing injury.
Going into the final event, the brutally difficult frame walk, and Shahlaei had a clear lead over Hollands, with Gearing and Hicks duelling for third place. Only Shahlaei was able to complete the out and back course, with Hollands suffering from torn callouses which he had aggravated during his monstrous deadlift earlier in the day. Gearing was the only other competitor besides Shahlaei and Hollands to make it to the midway point, but that was as far as he could manage. The wide frame did not suit Hicks, and this proved to be by far his worst event of an otherwise excellent day.
Shahlaei has now added his name to the roll call of champions, whilst Hollands was unable to take a second BSM title at this time. Hollands was disappointed, but to his credit was magnanimous in defeat. On the day Shahlaei was a deserving winner, taking three out of four events outright and tying for top spot in the other. What resulted was that Shahlaei and Hollands further entrenched themselves as the leading strongmen in Britain today. The hope for them is that they can go on and improve upon their World’s Strongest Man results of last year when WSM returns later in 2012. Hicks and Gearing showed that they could live with the best on their BSM debuts and there were a number of other notable performances that demonstrate that the future of British strongman is very promising indeed.