A qualifier for Europe’s Strongest Man 2013 was held today in Swindon, England. Not only were the top two guaranteed spots in the arena-based competition later this year but the top four strongmen earnt themselves a spot at Britain’s Strongest Man too. The line-up was mighty, ranging from World’s Strongest Man veteran Mark Felix to newcomer Ben Kelsey competing at his very first open-weight competition. There were a combination of athletes handpicked by Laurence Shalehi and those that had fought for their spot in earlier qualifiers.
The first event up was a brutal loading medley. Athletes had to run in and load a keg, sandbag and cumbersome tyre before completing three powerstairs with a 200kg weight. Needless to say this event gassed some of the heavier folk out rapidly with Eddie Hall quick to a bottle of oxygen after having finished his run. Two of the strongmen narrowly avoided injury when they – and the 200kg weight – fell down the narrow steps of the powerstairs. Gary Gardener, the tallest man of the day, won the event with ease – no-one was in touching distance of his standout performance. 2nd, 3rd and 4th place were more closely contested but, overall, the competition was off to an unexpected start with the favourites further down the leaderboard than anticipated. The scores after event 1:
Log Press Medley
120kg, 140kg, 160kg and 180kg logs in one painful event. Hixxy was the clear favourite going into this event having recently showcased a 202.5kg log press in training. Speculation was rife as to whether he’d be the one man to complete all four logs. Several of the competitors got pretty close – with Eddie Hall nearly strict pressing the 180kg. In contrast, others struggled and failed to lift the 140kg log. But when it came around to Hixxy’s turn he came out firing on all cylinders and completed the first three logs in a blisteringly fast time. He took a moment to compose himself but a (relatively) poor clean seemed to take it out of him and he wasn’t able to get the 180kg log overhead. Nevertheless, his quick three was enough to take his first event win of the day. The standings after event 2:
340kg in hand proved too much for many of the field who either failed to get a rep or managed just one. Unsurprisingly Felix was the favourite for this event and there were no surprises when he comfortably won with eight repetitions. Hixxy managed an easy four and, with the benefit of being last to go, knew that was all he wanted on this particular event. After event 3:
Certainly a spectacle but very much an unknown for most of the athletes competing – its not the easiest thing to train for! But once again, Felix and his almighty grip saw him to victory with more in the tank. Otherwise, the event saw athletes finishing all over the table, completely mixing up the scoreboard:
A 400kg yoke is a very heavy thing indeed. Moving with this kind of weight requires more than just brute strength – technique and stability are a must. Adam Bishop and Ben Kelsey – the two lightest athletes in the field by a considerable margin – showed the big boys how this was done, both completing the course in under 19 seconds. Hixxy, clearly still thinking he was as light as he used to be, wanted some of the action too. A time of just under 15 seconds showed this man hadn’t let his extra weight slow him down. First, second and third to the little guys was a treat to see! Here’s what the scores were looking like with one event to go:
Going into the Atlas Stones the points were very close. Felix and Jack McIntosh were out in lead but Eddie Hall, Graham Hicks, Ben Kelsey and Lloyd Renals were still in the mix and all vying for those elusive qualification spots. Lloyd knew he had to beat Ben and came out like a bullet, completing the first four stones very quickly. This technique was mimic’d by many and, unfortunately, often ended the same way as Lloyd’s run – out of gas and just missing the final stone. Ben took a more slow and steady approach but fumbled on the second stone and lost important seconds. But the tortoise prevailed over the hare and after an almighty shout from the crowd Ben worked his way through all five stones and cemented his position in – at least – fifth place. Eddie did what Eddie seemingly does best and with a display of pure brute strength loaded the five stones in the fastest time so far. Graham came next and knew he had to be quick as Eddie was snapping at his heels. A fast and comfortable first four stones was met with tragedy when the fifth stone slipped just millimetres from the platform, causing Hixxy to tumble and narrowly avoid injury. Despite a valiant attempt at composing himself and trying again the fifth stone wasn’t to be. Felix followed and lived up to his reputation by taking the event win away from Eddie Hall.
Mark Felix proved he still has what it takes at the age of 47 and showed the whippersnappers how its done. Jack McIntosh put in an incredible performance and is clearly one to watch – second place and a spot at the Euro’s is incredible. Eddie Hall snatched third place from Hixxy for a podium finish. Hixxy had performed excellently throughout the day but, as is always the case in strongman, an unfortunate mistake can be very costly indeed. Ben Kelsey – the newcomer and current 105kg champion – showed everyone size doesn’t matter finishing fifth.
Mark Felix’s performance:
Eddie Hall’s performance:
Graham Hick’s performance:
Ben Kelsey’s performance:
Our apologies to Jack McIntosh – we failed to capture his whole competition so will leave it to Martin Cee of Voice of Strongman fame to provide more glossy coverage of the whole competition at a later date.