June 18, 2021

QUALIFYING ROUND – DAY 3 RECAP

BATTLING FOR THE WSM FINAL

Brian Shaw (USA) did what he expected to do in Group 1, winning the group after 4 events. In the Pickaxe Hold, Shaw simply did enough to get the 1 point he needed to win the group & secure the automatic berth in the WSM Final. Shaw walked away & conserved energy for his WSM-record 13th Final. Shaw entered 2021 WSM tied w/ Strongman legend Zydrunas Savickas (LTU) for most appearances in the WSM Final.

Also in Group 1, Maxime Boudreault (CAN) & Aivars Smaukstelis (LAT) continued their thrilling battle to the very end! The 2 athletes were separated by half a point (0.5 points) going into the Stone Off, where Boudreault managed to match Smaukstelis’ 2 lifts of the 6th & final stone (462 lbs / 210kg). Smaukstelis could not lift the 6th stone for a 3rd time & Boudreault won the Stone Off & qualified for the WSM Final for the 1st time.

In Group 2, Trey Mitchell (USA) mounted a great comeback to secure his spot in the WSM Final. Mitchell won the Overhead Medley and the Pickaxe Hold to edge out Tom Stoltman (GBR) to win the group. Tom Stoltman, the “King of the Stones”, had no problem disposing of 55-year-old Mark Felix (GBR).

JF Caron (CAN) continued his consistent run on Day 3 of the Qualifying Round to win Group 3. Behind him, Mikhail Shivlyakov (RUS) missed out on the WSM Final after a disappointing Pickaxe Hold, and Robert Oberst (USA) did not have enough in the tank to beat Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted (ISL) in the Stone Off. Ingolfsson Melsted qualified for his 1st WSM Final in his 2nd appearance.

In Group 4, Konstantine Janashia (GEO) was in cruise control mode as he did enough to win before the Stone Off. Adam Bishop (GBR) reached the Final quite easily too, with Jerry Pritchett (USA) only completing 2 stones because of several injuries.

SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST

Group 5, one of the toughest WSM groups ever concluded with the Defending Champion, Oleksii Novikov (UKR), missing out on the WSM Final. Novikov was tied on points with Kevin Faires (USA) after 5 events, but Faires made the Stone Off by virtue of the tiebreaker, a better finish in the Pickaxe Hold. Faires held on for 2.57 seconds longer (2nd – Faires: 35.38 secs | 4th – Novikov: 32.81 secs).

Bobby Thompson (USA) impressed everyone with his endurance. In his Research Interview before the start of the competition, Thompson had described himself as an athlete who is “very good at dying last”, and he proved it, by winning the Pickaxe Hold, to win the group & earn the automatic berth in the WSM Final.

Luke Stoltman (GBR) was the 10th athlete to qualify when he defeated Faires in the Stone Off. It was an epic battle in which both athletes dug deep. Along with Group 1, it is the battle that went the longest (3rd attempt of 6th stone). Faires’ wife, Katie, was screaming “Be stubborn!” and her husband was to push it that far, but didn’t quite have enough.

During Luke’s interview with James Richardson & Eddie Hall, Eddie believed that Luke was pretty much on the edge of having nothing left had Faires gotten the stone back over the bar… And Luke agreed that he had given everything! Luke was not positive that he would have been able to reply.

STATISTICAL MEDLEY

Tom Stoltman (GBR) won his 8th straight Atlas Stone event yesterday … Last loss: 2019 Giants Live: Wembley (July 6, 2019 – London, GBR) – To Martins Licis (USA) by 0.32 seconds … Stoltman has now won all 3 winner-take-all Atlas Stone battles in WSM Qualifying Round he has competed in:

  • 2019: def. Aivars Smaukstelis (LAT)
  • 2020: def. Maxime Boudreault (CAN)
  • 2021: def. Mark Felix (GBR)

Brian Shaw (USA) qualified for his WSM-record 13th Final. Shaw entered 2021 WSM tied w/ Strongman legend Zydrunas Savickas (LTU) for most appearances in the WSM Final. Shaw extended his own WSM record for consecutive Final appearances to 13.

Stone Off: The athletes in 2nd place after 5 events, who did not start with the stone on their side, won all 5 Stone Offs by matching the athletes in 3rd place lift for lift. Thanks, Aaron Molin!

WHAT WE ARE HEARING

Jerry Pritchett (USA) lost in the Stone Off yesterday, but his tenacity was admired by observers and fellow athletes. Pritchett dealt with a lower back injury and a torn labrum in his hip. Pritchett won Fingal’s Fingers and the Pickaxe Hold in spite of the pain.

Mark Felix (GBR) broke down & became emotional in his interview with James & Eddie, thanking all the people who supported him all of these years.

When interviewed by Eddie Hall, Robert Oberst (USA) said that he was competing here at WSM for his dad who passed away in December (2020). Back then, “O.B.” had posted on Instagram: “He taught me what hard work is and I’m so proud to carry his last name.”

Luke Stoltman (GBR) told James & Eddie that he is fueled by people saying that he’s not a good Strongman. “To all the people who said I am not a good strongman, ‘Thank you!’” When asked how he saw the WSM Final going, Luke replied“Stoltman 1-2”. When asked to specify… “Luke 1, Tom 2”.

WSM FINAL PREVIEW

This could be one of the hottest WSM Finals ever, and in more than one way. The temperatures are expected to be approximately 100° F(38° C) for both days of the WSM Final, which could be a big fatigue factor.

An interesting fact going into the 2021 WSM Final: For the past 18 years (since 2003), every World’s Strongest Man Champion had won their group prior to taking the title. The last time someone managed to win the WSM title despite not winning their group was in 2002 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when Mariusz Pudzianowski (POL) had won his 1st WSM title. Pudzianowski had finished 2.5 points behind Hugo Girard (CAN) in Group 5 that year.

2021 WSM – Group winners

  • Brian Shaw (USA)
  • Trey Mitchell (USA)
  • JF Caron (CAN)
  • Konstantine Janashia (GEO)
  • Bobby Thompson (USA).

Can one of them continue that trend, or will one of the Stone Off winners take the title?

2021 WSM – Stone Off winners

  • Maxime Boudreault (CAN)
  • Tom Stoltman (GBR)
  • Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted (ISL)
  • Adam Bishop (GBR)
  • Luke Stoltman (GBR)

Brian Shaw (USA) is the only former WSM Champion in the 2021 WSM Final (field of 10). Having won the title 4 times, he knows what it takes to do it again! Shaw, seeking a WSM record-tying 5th title (in what some are calling his “drive for five”), is looking to 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.

Shaw, nicknamed, “The Evolution of Strongman” will be excited to compete on Fathers’ Day for the 2nd time in 3 years. Shaw said in his Research Interview w/ Brian Robins before the competition, “(The) Final on Father’s Day is a big deal for me.” Shaw’s wife Keri and his sons, Braxton (age 4) & Kellen (age 3), will be in attendance.

Last year’s Runner-Up, Tom Stoltman (GBR), will want his say on the outcome of the competition. The only athlete to finish better than him in the 2020 WSM Final did not qualify for the WSM this year, Reigning* Champion (*no longer “Defending Champion”), Oleksii Novikov (UKR).

On June 10, before the start of the competition, Tom Stoltman posted a guarantee on Facebook that he would win 2021 WSM: “I’m coming home as the World’s Strongest Man” (muscle emoji).

Another man wants to take the crown back to Scotland, and that is none other than Tom’s older brother, Luke Stoltman (GBR)! Luke will be competing in his 2nd Final. 2021 WSM will be the 2nd time that two brothers compete in the same WSM Final. The Stoltman Brothers had done so in 2019 (Tom: 5th; Luke: 7th). 2021 is the 28th year of the WSM Final, where athletes must qualify for the WSM Final.
The Qualifying Round began in 1994. From 1977 to 1993 (not held: 1987), all of the athletes competed for the title.

Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted (ISL), the competitor with the longest name (23 letters) in WSM history, is the first Icelandic athlete NOT named Hafthor Julius BJORNSSON to qualify for WSM Final since 2011 (Stefan Solvi PETURSSON, Ingolfsson Melsted’s full-time coach: 9th – Wingate, NC, USA).

Not many people had predicted a breakthrough performance from Ingolfsson Melsted, but Bobby Thompson (USA) did so! In his Research Interview, Thompson had this to say about the 2-time Strongest Man in Iceland: “I see him more as a threat than most people do. I saw him compete at 2021 WUS. He’s coming to compete & a lot of people are looking past him.”

Konstantine Janashia (GEO) & Adam Bishop (GBR) did not have to work as hard as some of the other athletes to reach the Final. In fact, for Bishop, it is the 3rd year in a row at WSM in which he defeated an injured opponent during a winner-take-all event!

  • 2019 Last Man Standing def. Robert Oberst (USA) Right bicep
  • 2020 Stone Off def. Mikhail Shivlyakov (RUS) Left hamstring
  • 2021 Stone Off def. Jerry Pritchett(USA) Multiple injuries

For the first time since 2003 WSM Final (Hugo Girard: 7th place, Jessen Paulin: 8th, Geoff Dolan: 10th) there will be more than 1 Canadian athlete in the WSM Final, with JF Caron (CAN) & Maxime Boudreault (CAN) qualifying yesterday. Boudreault is the first Canadian NOT named JF CARON to qualify for WSM Final since 2009 (Louis-Philippe JEAN), while Caron has extended his own Canadian record with 9 Final appearances, including 8 straight.

Trey Mitchell (USA) won his group to reach his 2nd WSM Final, while Bobby Thompson (USA) did the same to reach his 1st WSM Final.

With that, 2 of the 4 Elite Log Lifters originally entered into 2021 WSM qualified for the WSM Final: Luke Stoltman, holder of the British Log Lift record & Bobby Thompson. holder of the American Log Lift record. Robert Oberst (USA) missed out in the Stone Off, while Graham Hicks (GBR) had to withdraw before the competition started due to a groin injury.

Breakdown – WSM Final individual event wins by athlete

  • Brian Shaw (USA) 16 (T-6th all-time)
  • Tom Stoltman (GBR) 4
  • Adam Bishop (GBR) 1 (2020 Giant’s Medley)
  • JF Caron (CAN) 1 (2020 Hercules Hold)

The following athletes have never won an event in the WSM Final:

  • Konstantine Janashia (GEO) 4 previous app. in WSM Final
  • Luke Stoltman (GBR) 1 previous WSM Final (2019)
  • Trey Mitchell (USA) 1 previous WSM Final (2019)
  • Maxime Boudreault (CAN) 2021: 1st WSM Final
  • Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted (ISL) 2021: 1st WSM Final
  • Bobby Thompson (USA) 2021: 1st WSM Final

In 2021 WSM Final

Former Champions (1) WSM app. Final app. Titles
(INCL. 2021) (INCL. 2021)

  • Brian Shaw (USA) 14th 13th 4* (2011, ‘13, ‘15, ‘16) *Shaw: T-2nd all-time (w/ 3 other athletes)

Former Finalists (6) WSM app. Final app. Best WSM Finish (INCL. 2021) (INCL. 2021)

  • JF Caron (CAN) 11th 9th 3rd (2020)
  • Konstantine Janashia (GEO) 5th 5th 4th (2016)
  • Tom Stoltman (GBR) 4th 3rd 2nd (2020)
  • Adam Bishop (GBR) 6th 3rd 6th (2020)
  • Luke Stoltman (GBR) 6th 2nd 7th (2019)
  • Trey Mitchell (USA) 3rd 2nd 8th (2019)

1st-time Finalists in field (3) WSM app. Final app. Best WSM Finish (INCL. 2021) (INCL. 2021)

  • Maxime Boudreault (CAN) 2nd 1st 3rd in grp (2020)
  • Bobby Thompson (USA) 2nd 1st 3rd in grp (2020)
  • Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted (ISL) 2nd 1st 4th in grp (2020)

TODAY’S EVENTS

SATURDAY, JUNE 19
WSM FINAL – DAY 1

Giant’s Medley
For the second year in a row, the World’s Strongest Man Final is kicking off with the Giant’s Medley, where athletes will have to carry a yoke and a frame down the course. Last year, Adam Bishop (USA) sprinted through the course and won the event. Can he do it again?

Tom Stoltman (GBR) is well known for his speed. During the Qualifying Round, Tom Stoltman dominated the Loading Medley, setting the fastest time across all groups. Last year, “The Albatross” made a mistake in the Giant’s Medley, dropping the anvil while attempting to carry it. Stoltman could get some important early points if he gets a clean run in this event.

The Giant’s Medley could be crucial for Brian Shaw (USA). He dug himself a hole because of a slow time in this event in 2020, but Shaw has been working on his speed and weighs 15 lbs less than last year.

Bobby Thompson (USA) told us that he was looking forward to this event even though he is not known for his agility. Thompson said

“I’m excited for it, because not everyone will finish. Those are medleys I do best at. I am really good at dying last.”

Titan’s Turntable
A WSM first, athletes will push an antique locomotive seated upon a massive train turntable. Originally built in 1911, the California State Railroad Museum Turntable will be pushed for distance by the Finalists with a 19th century JW Bowker steam engine sitting on top.

During the Qualifying Round, Trey Mitchell (USA) & Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted (ISL) delivered impressive performances in the Train Push event in their respective groups – perhaps they can replicate those efforts in the Titan’s Turntable.

However, the two heaviest men in the Final, Brian Shaw (USA) & Tom Stoltman (GBR) may have an advantage as they battle against the inertia to push the locomotive.

Reign Total Body Fuel Keg Toss
Keg Toss (for maximum height) returns to WSM for the first time since 2016 in Kasane, Botswana, where it was also an event in the Qualifying Round. Strongmen will toss a keg, courtesy of Reign Total Body Fuel, over a bar. The height of the bar will be increased after each round. A World Record attempt is likely.

Notably from 2016, Brian Shaw (USA) set a World Record for the 15kg / 33 lbs Keg Toss for Height (7.25m), breaking the previous record of Hafthor Julius Bjornsson (ISL) set at 2015 Giants Live: Sweden in November 2015. Also of note from 2016, Adam Bishop (GBR) tied for 1st place in his group in this event (7.00m). Shaw will be the favorite in this event, but Bishop could do well also.

Look out for Tom Stoltman (GBR) & JF Caron (CAN)… These two athletes beat Shaw in the Keg Toss during last year’s WSM Final. Maxime Boudreault (CAN) is another athlete to watch: Boudreault beat Brian Shaw in the Bag Over Bar event at the 2020 Arnold Strongman: USA (Jan. 18, 2020 – Santa Monica, CA).
WSM FINAL – DAY 1 (cont’d)

STATS TO KNOW

Leader after 3 events has won WSM title last 6 years
(2015 – 2020)

  • 2015 Brian Shaw (USA)
  • 2016 Brian Shaw (USA)
  • 2017 Eddie Hall (GBR)
  • 2018 Hafthor Julius Bjornsson (ISL)
  • 2019 Martins Licis (USA)
  • 2020 Oleksii Novikov (UKR)

Brian Shaw (USA)
– Has led after 3 events in all 4 years he won WSM title (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016)
OR
– Has never come from trailing after 3 events to win WSM title

When trailing after 3 events

Since 2011, only 1 athlete has come back to win the WSM title when trailing after 3 events. Strongman legend, Lithuania’s Zydrunas Savickas “Big ‘Z'” did it twice. Each time, he trailed by 3.0 points.

Points After 3 events Place trailed by Leader

2012 Zydrunas Savickas 3rd 3.0 Vytautas Lalas (LTU)
> Won by: 4.5 points
> Runner-up: Vytautas Lalas (LTU)

2014 Zydrunas Savickas 2nd 3.0 Hafthor Julius Bjornsson (ISL)
> Won by: 0.5 points
> Runner-up: Hafthor Julius Bjornsson (ISL)

LOOKING AHEAD

SUNDAY, JUNE 20
WSM FINAL – DAY 2

Log Press (for max)
Two of the best overhead lifters have reached the WSM Final. Luke Stoltman (GBR), the current British Log Lift record holder (221kg / 487 lbs), will look to stamp his authority on this event, but Bobby Thompson (USA), the new American Log Lift record holder (217kg / 478.5 lbs) could cause “The Highland Oak” some problems.

KNAACK Deadlift
In the Qualifying Round, 3 groups competed in the Deadlift (for reps) and two names emerged: Adam Bishop (GBR) & Bobby Thompson (USA), both men managing 9 lifts. However, look out for JF Caron (CAN) in this event: Caron has been stellar in the Deadlift throughout his career, and he holds the Hummer Tire Deadlift (for max weight) world record.

Atlas Stones
Last year, Tom Stoltman (GBR) showed that he was “King of the Stones”, becoming the first athlete to complete the set in under 20 seconds since WSM upped its Atlas Stone weights in 2015. The only man who came within 10 seconds of him in 2020 was Brian Shaw (USA), who has historically been excellent in the Atlas Stones. It is also a specialty event for Trey Mitchell (USA). “Big Tex” could amass some big points to conclude his competition.

WSM FINAL – DAY 2 (cont’d)

STATS TO