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World's Strongest Man
Strongmen lift some serious weight. (theguardian.com)

10 Things: World’s Strongest Man

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  1.  World’s Strongest Man is an annual competition that tests competitors’ physical strength, endurance, and training. Held every year since 1977, the competition includes 16 separate events designed to push the Strongmen to the limits of their ability, with the eventual winner chosen based on his performances in all of the events combined.

  2.  The current title-holder is 33-year-old American, Brian Shaw, who won his third career title at the 2015 World’s Strongest Man competition in Malaysia. Shaw towers 2.04 m high, weighs almost 200 kg and reportedly eats 10,000 calories a day over eight separate meals. Just for comparison, a 450 kg horse has to eat 15,000 calories each day. That’s only 50 per cent more calories than Shaw eats.

  3.  Mariusz Pudzianowski has the most titles of any Strongman, with five victories from 2002 to 2008. His personal bests include a 290 kg bench press, 380 kg squat and a 415 kg deadlift. Since retiring as a Strongman in 2009, Pudzianowski has begun a second career as an MMA fighter, competing mostly in his native Poland.

  4. Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, better known for his role as Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane in the HBO series Game of Thrones, has finished in the top three at each of the last four WSM competitions. The 2.05 m, 175 kg Icelander only began training for Strongman competitions at age 20 after suffering an injury to his knee that ended his professional basketball career after only one season on the Icelandic Division 1 basketball team FSu Selfoss. 

  5. The Atlas Stones are typically the final and signature event of each WSM competition. Five heavy, spherical stones are placed in front of five platforms along the length of a 10 m long course. The Strongmen must successively lift each stone–increasing in weight from 100 to 160 kg–onto waist or chest high platforms in as little time as possible.

  6.  In the Keg Toss, competitors must throw kegs of increasing weight–from 15 to 24 kg–over a 4.42 m wall. In past variations of this event, it was the height of the wall that increased while the weight of the keg stayed constant.

  7. The Vehicle Pull involves competitors pulling vehicles such as transport trucks, trams, boxcars, buses, or planes by a rope down the length of a 30 m course as fast as possible. The vehicle pulled often pays homage to a previous winner or the host location of the competition. For example, the 2007 competition’s Vehicle Pull involved a fire truck in honour of the 2006 champion Phil Pfister, a firefighter, and the 2008 competition held in West Virginia featured a coal truck, referring to the region’s coal-mining industry.

  8. The Squat is one of the mainstays of the WSM competition, performed every year since its founding. Strongmen lift items including concrete blocks, tractor tires, cars or people as many times as they can while remaining in a fixed squat position. Another regular event is the Fridge Carry, where competitors carry two fridges weighing 415 kg on a crossbar across their shoulders along a 30m course, typically completing the event in under 20 seconds.

  9. The Husafell Stone, first introduced in 1982, involves carrying a flat, triangular rock weighing 182 kg across the chest over a set distance, with the fastest time winning. According to legend, the stone was crafted in Husafell, Iceland over 200 years ago where it is still kept between competitions.

  10. A fan-favourite of the WSM competition is the Car Carry. Strongmen stand inside a stripped-down automobile with a hole in the roof and in the floor, and carry it Flinstones-style the length of a 25 m course as fast as they can. 

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