Chris van der Linde is a professional strongman from Bloemfontein, South Africa, who was Africa’s Strongest Man in 2019 and competed at the 2021 World’s Strongest Man finals.
The former rugby player, who works in the construction industry was brought up on a farm and is aptly nicknamed “The Ox,” although this may have more to do with his size than his upbringing; he stands over six feet tall and weighs in at a colossal 186kg/410lb.
Chris is a static strength specialist who has made waves in the sport due largely to his prowess in the deadlift. He has set the African record, at 455kg/1,003lb and also holds the South African record in the axle press.
Chris has always been strong and found he gained size and weight very quickly after he began weight training at fifteen. As a large South African man, it comes as no surprise to learn that he played rugby from the age of six. He grew up watching the exploits of Mariusz Pudzianowski and at twenty-one decided to stop playing rugby and try to emulate his strongman heroes.
At his first contest, in his hometown of Bloemfontein, he deadlifted 310kg/683lb which augured, at an early stage, the huge improvements he would make in this most iconic of strongman events.
Chris earned his pro card following his 2018 Arnold amateur South Africa victory and just a year later The Ox was able to win the Africa’s Strongest Man title, a feat he has not yet repeated. The following year he came within half a point of victory but lost out to Dean Shelley.
In 2021 Chris equalled Eben Le Roux’s African deadlift record of 420kg/926lb as an exhibition lift at the MPG Raw Powerlifting Provincial Championships. Later that year he improved the record to 440kg/970lb at Africa’s Strongest Man, although he could only muster a 4th place finish in the overall contest.
In March 2022 Chris took his deadlift past the 1,000lb barrier when he lifted 455kg/1,003lbs at the South African Log, Deadlift and Axle competition, gaining the attention of the whole strongman community. In August he travelled to Cardiff, Wales to contest the Giants Live World Deadlift Championships where he was disappointed not to lift 453.5kg/1,000lb, though he still achieved a very comfortable 425.5kg/938lb lift to place =6th.
Chris has only attended World’s Strongest Man once, which was the 2021 finals in Sacramento, California. Chris was aiming for the podium but was forced to withdraw from his heat due to illness.
In 2019 Chris became Africa’s Strongest Man, defeating his nearest competitor, Tristen O’Brien, by 1.5 points in a closely fought battle. Of the six events in the final, Van der Linde claimed his only event win in the super yoke, a favourite event of his, where he was the only competitor to complete the course. Second place finishes in the log, deadlift for reps and tire flip earned him sufficient points to hold off his rivals and take the African championship.
Van der Linde is hoping to return to World’s Strongest Man in the near future and has set his sights on the podium finish he feels his raw strength is capable of. He concedes that improvements in moving events such as carrying and loading races will be necessary if that dream is to be realised.
In terms of improving his lifts, he has set himself the goal of joining the 500kg/1,102lbs deadlift club, of which there are currently just two members – Eddie Hall of Great Britain and Iceland’s Hafþór Björnsson.
Chris’ profile on Instagram can be found using the handle @chris_vd_linde_strongman. He posts regular footage of his training and contest performances. Although he doesn’t have his own channel on YouTube, he is the subject of numerous videos charting his progression in the sport – particularly his deadlift. He also features in a few in-depth interviews.
His performance at the Giants Live World Deadlift Championships and World Open will be aired on UK television’s Channel 5 during the festive period.