New athletes shining, the return of old favorites, a few upsets, a few surprises, and Eddie Hall showing that he’s more than a static monster. This past Saturday’s Britain’s Strongest Man had it all and what’s more it was an incredible show to watch, even if Eddie’s consistency meant that no one else got close to him from the beginning.
Possibly due to it’s fringe nature or possibly because of delay in the event airing on TV, there always seems to be a lack of analysis post contest. In attempt to rectify that, here is my completely biased and subjective run down on the athletes.
Eddie Hall – 10/10
There can no longer be any doubt Eddie Hall is a one of a kind phenom. Maybe not the best in the world just yet, but surely barring injury it’s only a matter of time. His performance on Saturday was almost virtuous, never finishing outside the top two and winning three of the six events. What’s more though is that everything seemed to happen according to his plan, he did just enough to get the points he needed and nothing more.
Interestingly it wasn’t his wins that got the crowd the most riled up, it was his second place finishes on the yoke and stone carry. Not known to be a great mover and weighing in at 30 stone many expected him to finish mid table on these and instead he goddamn near sprinted with both of them.
The only part of his performance that I could imagine not being part of the Eddie Hall master plan was being beaten on stones by Stoltman. Still, Eddie already had the title in the bag and so it cost him nothing. This is also more of a testament to Luke Stoltman’s stone lifting prowess than a knock on Eddie.
Being as big as he is, there have been quiet concerns muttered privately about just how long Hall can stay in a sport as brutal as strongman. For me and many others this weekend he looked bulletproof (knock on wood). Moving around like a man half his size, picking tacky up from the floor with ease and getting out of the car seemingly pain free and better than most sedentary folk you see. This really could be Eddie’s year, could he once again do the impossible and get the clean sweep – winning Brits, Europes and Worlds?
Laurence Shahlaei – 8/10
No one should be able to move that fast with 450kgs on their back, covering 20m in a fraction over 10 seconds. The mind boggles. Eddie might have been close to him time wise but even The Beast didn’t make it look that effortless. I really hope that Giants Live heed his call for a heavier yoke because I would love to see just what he could do.
Aside from being outstanding on the yoke, Laurence Shahlaei’s performance was mixed. On the events he was good on he was brilliant, bringing in a lot of points on the safe press, deadlift, and front hold. However, two events cost him dearly, the stones and shield carry. Even with two events not going his way though Loz always puts on a great show and will be happy with silver, especially when considering the competition.
Graham Hicks – 8/10
Returning to the Giants Live fold after a long injury induced lay off, the pressure really was off Hicks going into the competition on Saturday. Even a poor performance would have been received well by fans just happy to see him back and competing again. Of course he didn’t do poorly, he came in third and reminded us all just how strong he is. Especially overhead, which is particularly exciting considering that he will be attempting a new Log record later this year.
Going into the competition he’s acknowledged that his fitness wasn’t where it needed to be, it showed but not that much. With the strength he clearly still has and with a little dedicated conditioning work he could be winning events again.
Luke Stoltman – 9/10
If strongman had a man of the match award I’d have given it to Luke Stoltman. Eddie may of walked away with the win but Luke was captivating. He performed out of his skin and coming within two points of finishing on the podium. Which translates in real time to just holding onto that front hold for five seconds longer. Even though he didn’t walk away with a trophy he looked like a genuine contender throughout the whole competition, something that I haven’t seen him do before.
His day was far from perfect and a few mistakes got between him and a trophy, especially the multiple drops on the yoke, but even on that his worst event he didn’t give up and finished with a respectable time. Plus anything can be forgiven that stone run.
Mark Felix – 7/10
If your wanting to win trophies at this level you just can’t afford to have weak events, something that Mark Felix will be all too aware of after this weekend after coming up short on the safe press. However, ignore that one bad event and the fifty year old looked great, and had it not been for the standard of the line up he would’ve finished a lot higher.
How many guys other than Eddie Hall can deadlift 350kg for 8 reps? Mark’s most impressive feat for me though has to be his Yoke run. A bad pick up saw him struggle with the frame completely off balance, but ever the professional he battled through it to finish in a top three time.
Mark Steele – 8/10
Joint highest debut along with Tom Stoltman, Mark looked ever the promising talent. Going into it I know he was a little nervous but those nerves were probably settled pretty quickly after comfortably winning the first event and then taking third place in the safe press a couple of events later was just the icing on the cake.
He still has a few areas to work on but no one will be more aware of those than Mark himself. Despite it improving a lot over the last few years Mark has always struggled with the deadlift but stepping up in front of the biggest crowd of his life and pulling a PB of 350kg is certainly taking that in the right direction.
Tom Stoltman – 8/10
First things first: Tom Stoltman is ginormous, and you don’t normally see a 22 year old to dwarf professional strongmen in the manner that the youngest Stoltman brother did. But he is much more than just a giant. Tom, like Luke, put in the performance of a lifetime. Something that was hard to miss for those watching, I overheard a lot of fans talking about what a fantastic future he has ahead of him. It wasn’t a perfect outing for the Scot though and he will need to work on the shoulder dominant events, even if the fixed height of the safe press really didn’t suit his enormous frame.
Paul Smith – 7/10
*Going into the final event*
“Is that Paul Smith in fourth?”
“#*@~ yeah, he always does this he’s just so damn consistent.”
Thankfully the microphone was off for this exchange, but there he was, Paul Smith in fourth place with just one event to go. Unfortunately stone loading onto very high platforms is never going to suit the shorter man and despite one of the more valiant showings of the competition, he only managed three stones.
Paul might have finished in 8th but he certainly showed the world just what he can do and at 22 years old to boot. His standout performance has to be his dogged determination on the front hold keeping that 30kg hammer up for an incredible 50 seconds, beating all but two of the best athletes in Britain.
Adam Bishop – 5/10
Adam Bishop must be one of the toughest competitors in strongman, taking a tumble with a 200kg shield on his chest and getting up as if nothing had happened. Sadly however you only get one attempt at an event and his go on the shield was over and he was dead last with only 14 meters. A setback like that just can’t be overcome in a six event competition and although he put in some great showings on the yoke and deadlift. This realization became increasingly apparent on the front hold, where your mind will quickly go to dark places as the lactic acid builds and he just didn’t seem to be in the right mindset to battle through it. A real shame as he’d been looking so good in training.
*Updated it seems that Adam crushed his hand as he fell. Add two more points for just carrying on after that.
Luke Fullbrook – 5/10
While he might have finished at the wrong end of the table Luke still put in a great show. From what I heard he was battling a back injury for the vast majority of the show but certainly didn’t let it stop him. Notably on the Yoke run where he pushed through the pain and insisted on finishing the 20m course despite running out of time.
Pa O’Dywer – 5/10
It would be easy to get intimated competing at your first ever Giants Live in front of a sell out crowd, but Pa seemed completely unfazed. In fact I don’t recall seeing him without a rather large smile on his face, he was more than smiles though and showed some real strength and grit.
Phil Roberts – 5/10
Six days isn’t very long to prepare for any competition let alone the biggest competition of your life, but this was the position that Phil Roberts found himself as BSM reserve. He came into the competition with the right mindset though to enjoy the show and try and take a few scalps. He did exactly, that avoiding last place on every single event, it will be interesting to see what he could do with a bit of prep time.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Featured image: @strengthasylum on Instagram
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