June 14, 2021
SETTING THE SCENE
The 2021 SBD World’s Strongest Man, the 44th edition of Strongman’s most prestigious competition, is almost here. 25 of the world’s best strength athletes will compete for 10 coveted spots in the WSM Final.
Two athletes from each group will qualify for the WSM Final:
- Leader in the standings after 5 events
- Winner of the 6th and last event, Stone Off
Oleksii Novikov (UKR) will begin defense of his 1st WSM title, which he won in Bradenton, Florida, USA in November. If Novikov were to win, he would be the 7th different athlete to win back-to-back WSM titles. He would also be the first athlete to win back-to-back WSM titles since Brian Shaw (USA) in 2015 & 2016, when Shaw won the last 2 of his 4 WSM titles.
If Shaw wins the title this year, he would become the oldest Champion in WSM history (39 years, 114 days). Shaw would pass Zydrunas Savickas (LTU), who was 38 years, 258 days when he won the last of his 4 WSM titles in 2014.
Other favorites include last year’s Runner-Up, Tom Stoltman (GBR), as well as 8-time WSM Finalist, JF Caron (CAN).
2020 WSM Finalist, Graham Hicks (GBR) was forced to withdraw from the 2021 SBD WSM, with a left groin injury that he suffered training squats for WSM. In a Research Interview w/ Brian Robins, Hicks, who last year qualified for his 1st WSM Final (10th place) in his 6th appearance, described it as a “sneaky groin injury.“ Hicks was coming back from major surgery to repair his torn left bicep that he suffered in the 1st event of the 2020 WSM Final, the Giant’s Medley, which forced him to withdraw.
WHAT WE ARE HEARING
Defending Champion, Oleksii Novikov (UKR), became the 2nd youngest WSM Champion last November. This year, he is trying to become the youngest athlete to win multiple WSM titles. And he doesn’t want to stop there:
“I would be very proud of [winning my 2nd WSM title in 2021] & I would be one step closer to my dream. I want to be the greatest Strongman of all-time. 6 WSM titles. That’s why I keep competing”, Novikov told us this week.
Brian Shaw (USA), who finished in a disappointing 5th place last year, is also very confident in his abilities. Shaw is looking to accomplish something that has only been done by one athlete in the previous 43 years of WSM: win 5 titles. Here’s what he had to say:
“It is happening this year. If I do what I am capable of, no one can touch me.”
The younger Stoltman brother, Tom Stoltman (GBR), reached his 1st WSM Final in 2019, finishing an impressive 5th. Last year, he moved up to 2nd place, only 3.5 points behind WSM Champion Oleksii Novikov (UKR). “The Albatross” certainly believes that he can move up another spot in 2021.
On June 10, Tom Stoltman posted on Facebook that “I’m coming home as the World’s Strongest Man”, a guarantee that he would win the WSM title this year…
TUESDAY, JUNE 15, QUALIFYING ROUND – DAY 1
All 5 groups will take on the Loading Medley to start their 2021 WSM campaign.
Aivars Smaukstelis (LAT) will be an athlete to watch in Group 1. Smaukstelis, who lists Medleys as one of his best disciplines, set the 2nd-fastest time across all groups during last year’s Qualifying Round. Meanwhile, Gavin Bilton (GBR) lists Medleys as his weakest event. Bilton claims that his size (6’6″ / 420 lbs) “makes moving somewhat trickier”.
In Group 2, 2020 WSM Runner-Up, Tom Stoltman (GBR) will expect big points in the Loading Medley. The younger Stoltman was the fastest across all groups during last year’s Qualifying Round, and he also won this event in the 2019 WSM Final.
In Group 5, Bobby Thompson (USA) has been working on getting his speed up to where his strength is, in training. Oleksii Novikov (UKR) and Luke Stoltman (GBR) will be the favorites in the Loading Medley.
Epic Deadlift (for reps) Battle In Group 4?
Another WSM staple, the Deadlift (for reps) will be performed by Groups 2, 4 & 5. Group 4 features multiple world-class deadlifters (for max). Will their tremendous static strength work with 350kg / 772 lbs for reps?
Group 4 – Deadlift (for max) Personal Record
- Jerry Pritchett (USA) 465kg / 1,025 lbs
- Adam Bishop (GBR) 440kg / 970 lbs
- Konstantine Janashia (GEO) 440kg / 970 lbs
- Terry Hollands (GBR) 435kg / 959 lbs
- Chris van der Linde (RSA) 420kg / 926 lbs
In Group 5, Bobby Thompson (USA) is very confident. He told us this week: “I will (win) walk away w/ Deadlift”. Thompson won the Deadlift event at the 2021 World’s Ultimate Strongman: Strength Island (March 13, 2021 – Riffa, Bahrain), beating five 2020 WSM finalists.
Groups 1 & 3 will wrap up the day with the Squat Lift (for reps).
For 4-time WSM Champion, Brian Shaw (USA), it will be the first time since his rookie year (2008) that he takes on the Squat Lift in the Qualifying Round. However, he is not too worried about it. Shaw said that he is looking to win this event in Group 1. In Group 3, JF Caron (CAN) will be looking forward to the Squat Lift. Caron tied for 1st place in this event in the 2016 & 2020 WSM Qualifying Round. Luke Richardson (GBR), who was Champion – 2018 IPF (Int’l Powerlifting Fed.) Junior World Men’s Classic Championships, could put some pressure on the 9-time Canada’s Strongest Man.