Beer kegs soared. Train engines were rotated by giants. Massive things were carried by massive men. The 44th World’s Strongest Man was held in Sacramento, California, on June 15-20 in heat that reached triple digits. And, for the fifth time in five years, we have a new World’s Strongest Man.
Last year’s victor, Oleksii Novikov, of the Ukraine, narrowly missed making the finals. (The qualifying round featured five groups of five. The top two of each group advanced to the finals.) The only repeat winner among the final 10 strongmen was four-time winner, American Brian Shaw. However, the 6’8″ living legend, 39, had failed to crack the top three the previous two years. After the qualifying round, all eyes were on Tom Stoltman, as the 27-year-old, 6’8″ Scotsman looked to move up from his second-place finish last year. His brother, Luke Stoltman, 36, joined him in the finals and was also poised to press for the ultimate strength title.
There were three events on Saturday and another three on Sunday. Tom Stoltman took a commanding lead by winning the Giants Medley (carrying 440 kilos 10 meters and 350 kilos 15 meters) and Titan’s Turntable (pushing a bar to turn a train engine, an event unique to Sacramento). But Shaw set a world record in Saturday’s third event, the keg toss, by flinging a 15-kg. (33 lbs.) keg over a bar set at 7.75 meters (25.4 feet). After Day 1, Tom Stoltman led Shaw by 5.5-points. Shaw was vying to become the oldest WSM winner in its long history, while Stoltman was vying to become the first Scottish champ—and Scotland, home of the Highland Games, has a very, very long history of strength contests.
Scores tightened with Sunday’s first event, the log lift. Luke Stoltman won by hoisting 215 kg. (474 lbs.) and moved into third place, while Shaw (195 kg.) made up more ground on the younger Stoltman (185 kg.). After the deadlift (350 kg. for reps) and with only one event to go, Shaw was only one thin point behind Tom Stoltman, and American Trey Mitchell had moved into a third-place tie with Luke Stoltman. But the last event was the Atlas stones, and the younger Stoltman is the best in the world at stone-lifting.
The man known as “The King of Stones” didn’t disappoint. The younger Stoltman lifted and placed all five stones (ranging from 310 to 465 lbs.) in a mere 20.21 seconds to secure the title of World’s Strongest Man. Landing in the runner-up spot, it was Brian Shaw’s highest placing since his victory in 2016, asserting himself as the top contender even as he’ll turn 40 next February. After the top two, the stones rocked the final placings. Canada’s Maxime Boudreault overtook Mitchell for third (Mitchell finished fourth), and Luke Stoltman dropped to seventh.
Next year, we’ll see if the “King of Stones” can become the first WSM winner to repeat since Shaw in 2016. But for now we celebrate the new champion, the 23rd man to hold the title of World’s Strongest Man, Scotland’s Tom Stoltman.
All photos: World’s Strongest Man Instagram.