Yesterday saw England play host to this year’s Europe’s Strongest Man competition. Although a great competition in its own right, there was particular excitement in the air as the organisers had chosen to kick the event off with what they coined as the world deadlift championships. For the first time in history, the best deadlifters across powerlifting and strongman had been invited to battle it out to determine the true deadlifting world champion.
Following the deadlift the strongmen would be battling it out over the following events:
- Forward Hold (Thor’s Hammer)
- Giant Dumbell for reps (100kg)
- Atlas Stones
- Loading Race
World deadlift championship
The deadlift lineup was strong, comprising of:
- Eddie Hall
- Laurence Shahlaei
- Martin Wildauer
- Hafthor Bjørnson
- Mark Felix
- Johannes Årsjø
- Graham Hicks
- Vytautas Lalas
- Krzysztof Radzikowski
- Mikhail Koklyaev
- Brian Shaw
and from powerlifting:
- Benedikt Magnússon
- Andy Bolton
The rules were simple, lift a standard Olympic bar from A to B anyway you could – suits, straps and hitching all allowed. The athletes warmed up backstage before the first shock of the day was announced – Shaw, having competed in America last week, announced that his back was still tight and didn’t feel right during warm up. Much to the crowds’ disappointment the American withdrew himself from the competition.
With 12 competitors left, each went forward to tackle the compulsory opening lift of 400kg. Despite the weight being only within the reach of a handful of lifters a few years ago, this elite field showed their worth with all managing the weight except Russian Misha – he announced shortly before his lift that he had pulled his back during warm up but, in true crowd pleasing style, was going to try it anyway.
The deadlift then went up in a rising bar style with athletes choosing which weights they wanted to lift. As the bar rose in weight, fewer and fewer competitors remained.
The weight on the bar was risen to 435kg, 1kg more than the British strongman record. The current holder of that record, Shahlaei, and rival British strongman, Hall, opted to lift. To screams in the crowd Shahlaei made the lift, breaking the record. Next up was Hall – a blistering fast pull but, at the last moment, tragedy struck when the bar slipped from his hands just before locking out the lift. The audience thought Hall’s hopes were over but Ed reset himself, ignoring the fact the weight on the bar was already in excess of the British record and proceeded to do another rep – this time holding the whole 435 kilos at the top of the lift whilst the competition’s presenter, Caroline Pearce, carried out a tv interview. Certainly an impressive display of strength but would this showmanship cost Ed a heavier lift? In the word’s of Glenn Ross – we’d soon see.
Next on the bar was 446kg. Current powerlifting world record holder Magnusson decided to jump back in at this point with his second lift following the mandatory opener of 400kg. Magnusson made light work of the weight and set a firm marker for the remaining athletes to match or, perhaps, surpass. This was also the weight where fellow powerlifter Andy Bolton decided to return to the bar. Much to the disappointment of the English fans, Bolton was unable to make the lift – only managing to break the bar a couple of inches off the ground.
With Shahlaei having made quick work of the 435kg lift, there was hope he could match Magnusson’s 446kg too. Unfortunately, the lift proved too much and Shahlaei suffered an injury to his lat, forcing him to join Shaw, Misha and others and pull out of the competition. Fellow Englishman Hall was fired up for the lift – despite having had to do two reps of the previous weight. In true Hall style, a lot of shouting resulted in a successful lift and there were now only two men left in the competition – Hall and Magnusson.
461kg – 1kg more than the current powerlifting world record – was put on the bar next. Magnusson approached the bar and began his lift. After a true battle Magnusson stood strong at the top of the lift, proudly holding the 461kg world record lift in his hands. The crowd roared but Hall was still to go. Hall set himself up, secured his straps on the bar and pulled with all his might – the bar moved quickly off the floor, quicker than Magnusson’s, and to everyone’s surprise – perhaps even Hall’s – he pulled it to lockout. Maybe it was the heat of the moment, or perhaps the weight was too great, but Hall, having managed this world record breaking feat, dropped the weight. The referee had no choice but to disallow the lift – the rules stated that the bar had to be lowered bar down to the ground under control.
Magnusson was declared the World Deadlifting Champion and new strongman deadlift world record holder.
The weights each competitor managed are listed below, our thanks to Craig Pfisterer for compiling the list.
- Benedikt Magnússon – 400kgs/881lbs, 446kgs/983lbs, 461kgs/1016lbs
- Eddie Hall – 400kgs/881lbs, 435kgs/959lbs, 446kgs/983lbs, 461kgs/1016lbs (no lift)
- Laurence Shahlaei – 400kgs/881lbs, 435kgs/959lbs, 446kgs/983lbs (no lift)
- Martin Wildauer – 400kgs/881lbs, 435kgs/959lbs, 446kgs/983lbs (no lift)
- Hafthor Bjørnson – 400kgs/881lbs, 420kgs/926lbs, 435kgs/959lbs (no lift)
- Mark Felix – 400kgs/881lbs, 420kgs/926lbs, 435kgs/959lbs (no lift)
- Johannes Årsjø – 400kgs/881lbs, 420kgs/926lbs
- Graham Hicks – 400kgs/881lbs, 420kgs/926lbs (no lift)
- Vytautas Lalas – 400kgs/881lbs, 420kgs/926lbs (no lift)
- Krzysztof Radzikowski – 400kgs/881lbs, 420kgs/926lbs (no lift)
- Andy Bolton – 400kgs/881lbs, 446kgs/983lbs (no lift)
- Mikhail Koklyaev – 400kgs/881lbs (no lift)
- Brian Shaw – w/d
With the deadlifting competition out of the way, there remained only six strongmen left – the others had unfortunately had to pull out due to injury. The field considerably narrowed, it was time for the yoke.
The Swede, Årsjø, got off to a stormer, with an event win.
Next event on the cards was the forward hold and the implement being held – Thor’s hammer – suggested that there could only be one winner. Despite Bjørnson being far from built for the event with long arms and, relatively, weaker shoulders he persevered to victory.
The athletes then moved onto the 100kg dumbbell for reps. Following on from his last event win, Bjørnson took another scalp in this one too.
- Bjørnson – 7 reps
- Hicks – 6 reps
- Radzikowski – 5 reps
- Årsjø – 5 reps
- Felix – 3 reps
- Wildauer – 2 reps
The unstoppable Bjørnson then proceeded to take a third event win on the atlas stones:
- Bjørnson – 6 stones
- Årsjø – 5 stones in 22.61 seconds
- Hicks – 5 stones in 30.18 seconds
- Felix – 5 stones in 41.25 seconds
- Radzikowski – 4 stones
- Wildauer – 1 stone
This event saw another athlete fall, with Wildauer pulling out due to injury before the final event, loading. After the final event, with only five athletes left, Bjørnson was declared Europe’s Strongest Man.