At an impressive 6’ 5” (1.95m) tall and a “mere” 132kg (291lb) in bodyweight, the Ukrainian Pavlo Kordiyaka, from Lviv, is one of the more athletically built athletes on the strongman circuit just now. Luckily, at just 26-years of age, he has plenty of time to add mass to his large frame.
Pavlo is good friends with 2020 World’s Strongest Man, and fellow Ukrainian, Oleksii Novikov, and they often train together and communicate regularly about training. He was introduced to the sport of strongman by another former Ukrainian World’s Strongest Man, Vasyl Virustyuk, who topped the podium in 2004.
Prior to getting involved in strongman, Pavlo had taken part in many different sports, including football, acrobatics, dancing, boxing, wrestling and even mixed martial arts.
Having begun his strongman journey at just 18-years of age, Pavlo began his competitive career contesting Ukraine’s Strongest Man, making his debut in 2017, where he placed 5th. The following year he improved his placing drastically, taking 2nd place behind Oleksii Novikov by 5.5 points.
In 2019 Kordiyaka began competing internationally, contesting the Arnold Amateur Strongman World Championships in Columbus, Ohio, as well as the Marijampolé International in Lithuania, where he finished 3rd.
That same year Pavlo again finished 2nd at Ukraine’s Strongest Man, narrowing the gap to Novikov to just 3 points. In 2020 he won his first national title, defeating his friend, Novikov, by 4 points. However, he was unable to defend his title in 2021 and was forced to withdraw from the contest due to injury. That did not prevent him from finishing 2nd at Middle East’s Strongest Man, in Dubai and capturing the biggest title of his career – The Official Strongman Games World Title.
Despite the current events in Ukraine, 2022 has started well for Pavlo – he was able to finish 4th at his debut at Giants Live’s Europe’s Strongest Man and has secured his place at World’s.
Kordiyaka is very much a man on the up in strongman and is definitely someone to watch for the future. He attributes his progress to his approach to training, which includes lots of athletic work, not just heavy lifting. Pavlo firmly believes that a strongman doesn’t need to weigh 200kg/441lb or deadlift 500kg/1,102lb to win at the highest level.
In 2021, Kordiyaka was able to win the Official Strongman Games World Championship (amateur) title in Daytona Beach, Florida. He defeated second place Spenser Remick (USA) on countback after they were equal on points after the six scheduled events. Kordiyaka took the win courtesy of having taken more 1st places – he won both the carry and drag and the sandbag toss.
Due to his comparative lack of mass, Pavlo favours the more dynamic, running events, such as carries, medleys and power stairs. He has also proven himself very successful in the sandbag toss, an event he won at the Official Strongman Games, where he cleared the 15’ bar with 6 sandbags weighing between 19 and 28kg (42-62lb) in just 20.07 secs.
Pavlo’s least favourite event is the deadlift, though he is working hard to improve it. During the covid pandemic he got an infection in his spinal column which stopped him training the event for 14 months. He was only able to practice the lift three weeks prior to his Official Strongman Games victory in 2021.
Pavlo has been confirmed to compete at the 2022 World’s Strongest Man in Sacramento, California in May. It will be his first outing at the sport’s biggest contest, having made his first appearance at Europe’s Strongest Man in April.
On his selection for World’s Kordiyaka has said that he “cannot believe it.” For him, this is just the beginning of his strongman career, and he knows that he needs to put a lot of hard training in if he is to realise his full potential.
Current events in Ukraine have put Pavlo’s preparation and ability to compete internationally in a precarious situation. He was granted special permission, along with Oleksii Novikov, to leave the country to attend Europe’s Strongest Man.
Pavlo can be found on Instagram: @pavlo_kordiyaka. He has nearly 14k followers who keep abreast of his training and competitive activities. Pavlo and Novikov’s interview at Europe’s Strongest Man can be found on Giants Live’s YouTube channel.
He also features in an interview by Laurence Shahlaei on his channel: Big Loz Official, on YouTube, where he talks about his preparations for World’s Strongest Man in difficult circumstances, due to the current conflict.
Channel 5 will be televising the 2022 season during the Christmas period, including the World’s Strongest Man heats and final, and the Giants Live World’s Strongest Man Arena Tour events, including Kordiyaka’s performance at Europe’s Strongest Man.