Okay, here’s the headline: Martins Licis won it.
But what’s behind that? I think this was a really consistent performance that was simultaneously not amazingly impressive, if that even makes sense in this context. I was actually surprised near the end, when he had a nearly insurmountable lead. So, what happened?
Event 1 was the loading race, where you have to carry sacks, anvils and ting to a table. Early on, you’re told that the 2018 winner, Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, has a foot injury. I wonder if that will have an effect? Tom “Brother of Luke” Stoltman won this one, with the terrifyingly efficient Mateusz Kieliszkowski just behind, and Martins Licis third. Favourites Brian Shaw and Thor were 8 and 7 respectively. Why did I write their names in that order? Who knows. Veteran JF Caron was good, mind.
Most impressive: Tom Stoltman
Overhead press (medley), next. Lifting a bunch of things over your head, including the massive log of doom. Thor and Shaw this time showed their mettle and smashed it. This was where Georgian Konstantin Janashia smashed his arm up. Licis was really good, but Kieliszkowski was once again terrifying. He just chucked the weights over his head like the swot in class thrusting their hand up when the teacher asks a question. Key line of commentary: “WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?”. Kieliszkowski, Licis, Shaw and Thor comfortably ahead of everyone.
Most impressive: Mateusz Kieliszkowski
Event 3 was squat lift. 340KG, for the love of god. I’ve done 5 reps of 100KG, I think. Thor staggered about quite early in his reps, and just chucked it after he’d had enough at 7. This is when we learn they wear corsets to keep their back straight. Shaw did 8, and chucked the bar slightly less violently than the fainting Thor. Licis got 9, and looked like his face might explode. He went at a decent pace, and is built a bit squat for a WSM contender. Kieliszkowski went down too strongly on his squats and got 7. His face was even more explodey.
Most impressive: Martins Licis
Event 4: Deadlift (hold). 320KG this time. How long can you go? Shaw shat the bed a bit at 30 seconds, whereas Thor went into a trance for 45 seconds. The fall of Mateusz Kieliszkowski continued, as he placed sixth. Licis a respectable second, after his training from GRIP MASTER ODD HAUGEN.
Most impressive: Thor
Last event was the god damn Atlas stones. Of course it was. First key story was Tom Stoltman beating Shaw in the head to head, though they both struggled on the insane last stone. Thor obviously did them like he was putting the shopping on a conveyor belt. Licis by this point seemed so far ahead that he just had to complete, and he won. Licis pipped Thor timewise (both under 30 seconds), then Tom S, Kieliszkowski and Shaw (under 40), then everyone else.
Most impressive: Thor
I need to say that even though I’ve not mentioned him much, JF Caron was such a great dark horse contender throughout. Didn’t dazzle at any time, but was a tough match for anyone. As for Kieliszkowski… man, his presses were amazing, but I think if you want to be the strongest man in the effing world, you need squats and deadlift. I mean, come on! Thor, bad foot and all, had a great finish but it was too little too late. Licis performed consistently well throughout, only really being amaze in one event, but everyone else’s inconsistency meant he was largely unchallenged in the final reckoning. Well done him, but you know what I mean?
- Martins Licis – 46
- Mateusz Kieliszkowski – 38
- Hafthor Julius Bjornsson – 37
- JF Caron – 31
- Tom Stoltman – 30
- Brian Shaw – 30
- Luke Stoltman – 20
- Trey Mitchell III – 18
- Adam Bishop – 15
- Konstantine Janashia – 7 (obv DNF)
So yeah, we’ll see if Thor wrecks everyone if he gets healthy next year. Tom Stoltman was the best Brit, but a bit distant given how many British contenders there were. He has a lot of potential, being close in size to Thor and Shaw, and a don at stones. My main thing for 2020 is wondering if Kieliszkowski can overcome his squat and deadlift issues, or if they are the kinds of lifts that you’re either fundamentally good at or not. Should be interesting. And a glass raised to Laurence Shahlaei, who bowed out with injury in his final WSM. Ledge.