Sport writer Kieren Williams reports on the UoB Kickboxing Team's latest competition successes in a four-part special for Redbrick Sport, in Part 4, he reports on the evening of finals for UoBWritten by KierenJWilliams on 4th May 2018
Hall’s Haul: Brit Eddie Wins World’s Strongest Man Title
Sport Editor Alex Alton reviews strongman and Midlands native Eddie Hall's win at the latest World's Strongest Man competition in Botswana
Stoke born strongman Eddie Hall finally became victorious in the 2017 World’s Strongest Man competition, held in the fiery heat of Gaborone, Botswana.
The competition has fallen out of favour with the nation’s sport fans of late, following on from a period in the 2000s where the sport was dominated by the Pole Mariusz Pudzianowski for a number of years. This year’s competition promised to be a real battle between some of the best competitors that “Strongman” has ever seen. There were four main contenders vying for the ultimate alpha male role of the World’s Strongest Man. Firstly, we have Hafthor Julius Bjornsson. Better known as The Mountain from Game of Thrones, the Icelandic giant stands at 6ft 10 inches tall. The former basketballer has never managed to win WSM despite holding records in many of the lifts involved.
Next up is American Brian Shaw. Standing at a height of 6ft 8, he is another giant who defies human belief with his sheer strength. Shaw is considered by some to be the Strongest Strongman of all time, holding 4 WSM titles in addition to holding the indoor 100m rowing world record at a time of 12.8 seconds.
Following Shaw we have the Lithuanian beast Zydrunas Savickas. “Big Z” as he is affectionately known, is a true icon of Strongman. At the veteran age of 42, Savickas held out little hope to win this year's competition after a severe struggle with a back injury. Still, like Shaw he is the holder of 4 WSM titles and is one of the strongest men to ever exist.
“The sport was dominated by the Pole Mariusz Pudzianowski for a number of years
Finally though, we have Englishman Eddie Hall as the other main contender for the prize. Hall, who holds the deadlift world record at a staggering 500kg, stands at a relatively small height of 6ft 3. He credits his ability to lift so much weight with the anaerobic training he undertook whilst breaking Mark Foster’s junior swimming records in his youth.
The competition quickly heated up, with a clear rivalry between Hall and Bjornsson emanating from the first few events that took place. The first event, the tire flip was won by Brian Shaw. He followed his win with a magnificent celebration that demonstrated his sheer happiness that he had won the event. As expected, Hall was victorious in the second event, the squat lift, leaving four men tied for second place behind him. His superior leg strength shined through in this event.
Perhaps the most controversial event of the competition came next. The Viking Press, in which competitors have to lift above 150kg above their heads. As the resident Viking in the competition, many expected Bjornsson to be victorious, and he did show excellent strength. However, the technique of the lift requires competitors to not “double dip” when lifting. This means that they are only allowed to bend the knees once during each lift, as to not gain a physical advantage through the legs. Thor’s fifteenth rep was not counted, and as a result he failed to gain an extra 0.5 points that may have seen him go on to win the competition in the end.
“The final event was the Atlas Stones, in which Eddie Hall only needed fourth place to seal the win
Day Two of the event quickly followed, with the first event of the day the Plane Pull. Taller competitors are somewhat disadvantaged in this competition as there is a mechanical assistance to being closer to the floor during the lift. As a result, the relatively untested Mateusz Kieliszkowski was victorious, with few of the big guns showing their form. The next event was the Deadlift, which Eddie Hall unsurprisingly won. At this stage, Hall was on 44 points, 4 ahead of both Thor Bjornsson and Brian Shaw. The final event was the Atlas Stones, in which Eddie Hall only needed fourth place to seal the win. Bjornsson was victorious in this one, with Shaw coming in second after tearing his hamstring prior to the deadlift event.
All in all then, Eddie Hall was victorious in the 2017 World’s Strongest Man, finishing a single point ahead of Thor. In an emotional outburst following his win, Hall dedicated the win to his grandmother, who he had promised he would eventually win the event. This was something you would not expect of a typical alpha male strongman, such emotion. Hall then announced to presenter James Richardson that he was retiring from Strongman on the spot. An interesting to way to bow out from a sport that the Midlands Man has conquered in the year 2017.