In general, I don’t like sport. For anyone that knows me, that statement doesn’t come as a surprise. Using the word sport in conversation (outside of the Olympics every 4 years) is a rare thing for me. I don’t follow any of what I would call the popular sports, football, rugby, cricket, golf, Formula One etc. I don’t support any teams and I don’t have a clue, nor care about player transfers, football managers being fired and hired, and so on. This excludes me from certain conversations, but that’s fine with me. I’m happy not to know and don’t want to. There are plenty of other things I’d rather spend my time, money and effort focusing on. So, what’s the sporting tradition then? And why today, the first day of the new year?
When I about five or six years old, there was a local strongman event in my home town in the UK. I watched enormous men throw huge weights around, carry cars and pull trucks like they were toys. I’ve been a fan of strongman events ever since, and in particular the World’s Strongest Man event. Thirty of the strongest men in the world, whittled down to just ten, and then one. When I was very little I remember seeing Geoff Capes in person at such an event and he was a monster of a man, but also very nice with it.
Every Christmas, through the holidays and leading up to new year and final, WSM has been shown on TV. This year marks the 35th year of the World’s Strongest Man event. I watched it with my dad and brother when I was growing up, I watched it when I came home from university during the holidays, and I’ve continued to watch it every year now that I’m in my own home. There aren’t many traditions that I’ve followed that religiously but this is an important one to me.
I avidly watch the heats, cheer and shout at the television, and probably do all of the other things fans of other sports do on a weekly basis sitting in the stands at a match or game. I can quote stats, tell you about past performances and I’ve followed certain athletes for many years. Despite all of that, I’m probably a fairly moderate fan, as I don’t study it to the degree of some sports fans who know everything about their team, players and its history right back to the day it was started. There are WSM fans like that out, and good for them and their passion I say, but I am certainly passionate about it and hope to see it get more widespread attention.
Last year (well it’s only a few months ago now, but in the summer of 2012) I attended a live strongman event in Leeds. It was to find out who was Europe’s Strongest Man and it was a qualifying event for the big one. Ten of the strongest men in the world competed in front of a sell out crowd of five thousand and it was an amazing day. Afterwards I was also lucky to be able to meet some of my favourite athletes in person, shake their hand and have a quick chat. An amazing day, I’m booked up for next year in Leeds already, and there are other qualifying events all over the world ahead of World’s Strongest Man 2013 in Poland, Quebec, Finland, London, Melbourne, India and several other places. So if you’re looking for something new in 2013 check out Giants Live. I might see you there.