Tag Archives: wsm2014

World’s Strongest Man 2014 – Heat 5

The final heat and last year’s World’s Strongest Man Brian Shaw was always going to be the leader. It was no surprise then that he won the top spot, but he played a very careful game, doing just enough to win but he didn’t push himself too hard. In that Californian heat he knew it would sap his strength and with the final just around the corner, he needed to keep back as much energy as possible.

On Fingal’s Fingers he was watching Martin Wildauer, from Austria, to see how much he did and if he should attempt the final weight or not. Wildauer didn’t manage it so Shaw just left it alone. Equally by the time we got to the final event, the Atlas Stones, Shaw had enough of a lead that he didn’t even compete, and just watched from the sidelines, so he went through with a small points margin, but it was a very carefully calculated strategy that he hoped would help him in the final.

There was another Englishman in this heat, Graham Hicks, who did pretty well against some of the veterans of the sport like Shaw, even keeping up with the big man on the overhead log press for a while. Wildauer made a couple of really bad mistakes in some of the early events and it looked as if he was going to end up far down the rankings. However, when we got to the squat lift he did something remarkable. No athlete, in any heat in this year’s WSM, has managed to lift all seven. Most who made it to six just had a little attempt and then stopped. Others just did six reps as quickly as possible and walked away like Shaw, confident that no one could do it. Wildauer beat every other athlete in the entire competition as he lifted seven, held it there for a couple of seconds looking pleased and then lowered it. This served in in very good standing and helped bump him up the ranks in the heat. Ultimately he did enough and performed much better after that to earn himself a spot in the final.

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World’s Strongest Man 2014 – Heat 4

Big Z, Zydrunas Savickas, from Lithuania is one of the strongest men in the history of the competition. He holds more world records and has broken more, usually his own, for strength than anyone else. He’s won WSM three times, losing in 2013 to the athletic Brian Shaw from the United States. In this heat everyone, the other competitors and the commentators, were under no illusions that he would go through in one of the two top spots and earn his place in the final.

The real fight was for that second spot and a chance to be in the top ten. England has two men in the race, the man with arguably the strongest back in the world, Mark Felix, who is also the oldest man in the competition. However, I should point out he’s only 47, so he’s not that old, but if I look even half as good at his age, I’d be a happy man. The other Englishman in this heat is Laurence Shahlaei, who last year had to pull out due to injury which was a big disappointment. But he’s back, he’s much leaner having lost two stone, but he looked incredibly determined and had a lot to prove to himself. Well he did not disappoint. He’s been injury free for a while and he actually beat Big Z in a couple of events.

There were a couple of events that were favourites for Loz, including the Superyoke. In competitions over the last few years he’s won 9 out of 10 of the events, so going into he was confident. Nick Best, the second eldest in the whole competition at 45, put in a blistering time, but nearly passed out as he forgot to breathe. However, Loz smashed his time, and in direct competition against Big Z, left the champion far behind. Again in the deadlift, no one could manage all seven, the weight was just ridiculously heavy, and Loz had the benefit of going last. So he knew he had to lift six as fast as possible and he put in a brilliant performance which paid off. He was 0.02 of a second faster than Big Z giving Loz a second win.

Big Z remained consistently excellent though, and although some of the other competitors put in good performances, he was always just ahead on points and went on to win the heat. After a slow start Felix picked up the pace, bested some of the younger athletes and came in third, but it looks as if he just missed out on one of the wildcard positions to go through to the final. This year twelve are competing, the top two in five heats and then the two highest on points after that. Sadly this meant we wouldn’t see Felix for the rest of the competition but he remains an impressive figure.

Loz earned his second place, but he was careful in the last event, the Atlas Stones, and like Big Z he did just enough to get through and left some energy in the tank for the final. After winning one event Big Z said he was running at 80-90% and was saving his energy for the final. Tactics definitely plays a key part in the competition and now the others are learning not to push themselves too hard until it really matters.

With one more heat to go, which includes former WSM champion Brian Shaw, I think his spot is guaranteed and it will come down to who is going to take that second spot. The final is nearly here and I think it’s going to be a great year.

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World’s Strongest Man 2014 – Heat 3

This heat was really interesting as although there were some familiar favourites, it was also quite a tough group with some new and unknown faces. England’s Eddie Hall had a lot to prove to himself after a couple of fumbles last year, however since then in UK events he has shown that he’s getting better and better. He’s bigger, stronger and he’s also seems to be faster on his feet, which is critical in WSM as many events involve some athleticism as well as static tests of strength.

Hall proved that he has some of the strongest shoulders in the business during the overhead log press. Others struggled to lift it over their heads, bracing with their legs, while he just rolled it up his chest in one smooth move and then up. Incredibly strong and a great performance that served him very well.

The American Jerry Pritchett started out very poorly, coming last in the first loading event, and to begin with it looked as if he was going to stay at the bottom of the ranks. However, over the next five events he showed that it was just a minor slip, as he excelled, beating the competition and in the end he won the heat, earning himself a spot in the WSM final. He gave it his all and a few times the commentators called him the dark horse of the heat. In this case it was a well-earned nickname, as he definitely fought hard to earn his place. I think he is definitely one to watch in the final as he started out slow but quickly build up speed.

This heat was definitely a battle throughout and with each event I went in having no inkling of who would come out on top. Nevertheless Eddie Hall and Pritchett were both consistent in their attack and they gradually started to pull ahead of the rest of the group. Both men did very well and it will be interesting to see if Hall’s increased strength and speed will earn him a spot in the top five. I think for a while the competition will continue to be dominated by Big Z, but people like Hall are young and incredibly hungry. Last year Shaw knocked the big Lithuanian off his top spot so the battle for the podium this year is going to be very hard. One or two of the old hands could be upset and find themselves having to work much harder than normal with people like Hall and others chasing at their heels.

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