All sporting competitions enjoy the use of superlatives. From the fittest, to the toughest, to the fastest, each tends towards exaggeration when the use of adjectives is concerned. But one event where you don’t have to worry about false advertising is that of the World’s Strongest Man competition. You need only look at its competitors to realise that this is a playing field few could ever hope to enter. Of such super-human strength are these people that it’s mind-blowing to think they actually happen to walk among us.
While the World’s Strongest Man competition has long come to be dominated by The Mountain, the 2021 competition now grants us a new victor in the form of the United Kingdom’s Tom Stoltman. Taking place from June 15 to 20 in Sacramento, California, 25 participants entered the tournament to compete in 12 iconic events like the Keg Toss, Atlas Stones and plenty more.
Stoltman took out the title of the competition, an incredible feat considering that he’s just 27-years-old. Known to his friends as “The Albatross”, his victory comes after finishing second last year. Speaking about the achievement following the event, Stoltman said: “I’m the first Scotsman to win World’s Strongest Man and the first with autism to win. I made a promise to my mum before she died that I would win this event and I had the whole world on my shoulders until that Stones event. It hasn’t sunk in yet that I am the World’s Strongest Man.”
To take out victory, Stoltman had to best American Brian Shaw. It’s no easy task, particularly when you consider that Stoltman is a four-time World’s Strongest Man and this year’s competition marked his fourteenth entry. But when Stoltman held a wide lead after the first day of Finals events, the pair entered the Atlas Stones – the last event. Separated by just one point, it was Stoltman that emerged victorious as he placed all five stones in 20.21 seconds, to Shaw’s 31.45 seconds.
There were some surprises in this year’s event. Defending champ Oleksii Novikov of Ukraine failed to advance past the group stage to make the final stage of the competition, something few had anticipated. But more so, coming in as the underdog, Stoltman only went from strength to strength and performed consistently across the multi-day event. Of the 12 events, he finished outside the top three just once. We could just see a new era of World’s Strongest Man, one in which Stoltman now dominates.