Mitchell Hooper stormed to World’s Strongest Man victory in Myrtle Beach, winning four of the contest’s six events in what was an exhilarating two-day showdown. Less than 11 months after his 8th place finish at the 2022 WSM final, The Moose completed his meteoric rise to the top of the sport as he took its greatest title by 4.5 points from Tom Stoltman.
Taking the winner’s trophy home to Canada for the first time in the title’s history, Hooper became just the 4th man to win World’s and the Arnold Strongman Classic in the same year. With a winning margin of 4.5 points, including four wins and a second, Mitchell’s only blemish in an otherwise near-perfect performance was his 6th place in the Fingal’s Fingers.
Pivotal moments in The Canadian’s breath-taking triumph included his crucial win over Stoltman in the Shield Carry after he seemed to purposely trail the Scot, to see what distance was required for first place. Any doubts over his prowess with the Dumbbell were dispelled by his stunning Canadian record of 140kg to tie the victory with Evan Singleton. After the penultimate event he looked assured of the title, stunning all in attendance with his speed and power as he sprinted to victory in the Bus Pull.
Defending champion Tom Stoltman put up a valiant fight to retain his title but wins in the Fingers and the Atlas Stones could not prevent Hooper’s triumph. For The Albatross, his failure to complete the 7th rep in the Knaack deadlift was where he leaked most of the points and his seemingly premature drop in the Shield Carry was perhaps, in the end, not a telling factor.
Oleksii Novikov secured his second podium place since his 2020 victory and proved once again what a fierce competitor he is. His 8th place finish in the Bus Pull spoiled what had otherwise been a tremendously consistent performance and put paid to any realistic chance of victory. His compatriot, Pavlo Kordiyaka was penalised for turning short of the line in the Shield Carry and had 20m deducted from what would have been a winning performance. Nonetheless, in his first WSM final, the 2023 Europe’s Strongest Man performed admirably and placed 6th overall.
Evan Singleton enjoyed a fantastic 2nd day after ending day one 9.5 points adrift of the podium. Taking joint first in the Max Dumbbell and equal 2nd in the Bus Pull, the T-Rex was less than a second from taking 3rd place overall and finished a highly creditable 5th, tied on 39.5 points with 4th placed Trey Mitchell.
Brian Shaw’s bid for a record-equalling 5th title proved unsuccessful after two poor events on Day 1 left him with too much ground to recover. Despite an excellent showing in the Knaack Deadlift, Shaw had to be content with making a record-breaking 15th consecutive final. Any realistic chance of him claiming a record 11th podium place unravelled in the Fingal’s Fingers where he had been expected to dominate. The Colorado man’s 7th place finish was his lowest in a WSM final, but he will walk away from the World’s stage widely acknowledged as one of the sport’s greatest ever athletes.
The final points standings were:
|1st||Mitchell Hooper (CAN)||53.5|
|2nd||Tom Stoltman (GBR)||49|
|3rd||Oleksii Novikov (UKR)||41|
|4th||Trey Mitchell (USA)||39.5|
|5th||Evan Singleton (USA)||39.5|
|6th||Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR)||31.5|
|7th||Brian Shaw (USA)||27.5|
|8th||Luke Stoltman (GBR)||21.5|
|9th||Mathew Ragg (NZL)||18.5|
|10th||Jaco Schoonwinkel (RSA)||5.5|
Event 1: Reign Shield Carry
|1st||Mitchell Hooper (CAN)||64.80m||10|
|2nd||Tom Stoltman (GBR)||63.15m||9|
|3rd||Oleksii Novikov (UKR)||55.87m||8|
|4th||Trey Mitchell (USA)||50.83m||7|
|5th||Evan Singleton (USA)||48.30m||6|
|6th||Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR)||46.59m||5|
|7th||Luke Stoltman (GBR)||44.62m||4|
|8th||Brian Shaw (USA)||39.10m||3|
|9th||Mathew Ragg (NZL)||37.65m||2|
|10th||Jaco Schoonwinkel (RSA)||15.92m||1|
Getting the 2023 World’s Strongest Man Final underway, the 196kg (432lb) shield needed to be picked from its low plinth (not an easy task in itself!) and then carried across the athletes’ chests for maximum distance up and down the 20m course. This was a gruelling test of endurance and the athletes needed to weigh up the potential consequences of pushing too hard in this event and paying the price later in the contest.
In the second heat, Evan Singleton and Luke Stoltman, surpassed the opening distances recorded by Mathew Ragg and Brian Shaw, but it was the third heat that produced most of the drama. Reigning champion, Tom Stoltman led Mitchell Hooper up and down the course and relinquished his grip on the shield at a leading distance of 63.15m. Celebrating prematurely, he then looked on as Hooper ground out an extra five feet to surpass his mark and take the lead.
In the fourth heat, Europe’s Strongest Man, Pavlo Kordiyaka beat everyone’s distance with a stunning carry of over 66m. Unfortunately, he was judged to have come up short of the line before his turn and therefore hadn’t completed the full 20m of that lap. He was penalised by 19.80m, meaning his event-winning effort was only good enough for 6th, with 46.59m.
In the final pairing, Schoonwinkel struggled with just 15.92m, whilst Novikov got his 2023 campaign off to a solid start with 55.87m – good enough for 3rd.
Event 2: Knaack Deadlift
|1st||Mitchell Hooper (CAN)||8 reps||10||20||1st|
|=2nd||Oleksii Novikov (UKR)||7 reps||7.5||15.5||2nd|
|=2nd||Trey Mitchell (USA)||7 reps||7.5||14.5||3rd|
|=2nd||Brian Shaw (USA)||7 reps||7.5||10.5||5th|
|=2nd||Mathew Ragg (NZL)||7 reps||7.5||9.5||=6th|
|6th||Tom Stoltman (GBR)||6 reps||5||14||4th|
|=7th||Evan Singleton (USA)||5 reps||3.5||9.5||=6th|
|=7th||Jaco Schoonwinkel (RSA)||5 reps||3.5||4.5||10th|
|9th||Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR)||4 reps||2||7||8th|
|10th||Luke Stoltman (GBR)||3 reps||1||5||9th|
With the banning of figure of eight straps and a reportedly lower bar height, the 355kg (782lb) Knaack deadlift was seemingly tougher than when it was last used in the 2021 final. On that occasion Adam Bishop, J F Caron and Trey Mitchell all got 10 reps on the second day of competition, a total not approached in Myrtle Beach this year.
Luke Stoltman and Jaco Schoonwinkel set the early pace with 3 and 5 reps respectively as the rain continued to fall. Shaw and Mathew Ragg both ground out 7 reps to take the lead and set a target for the remaining athletes. Oleksii Novikov and Trey Mitchell both equalled 7 repetitions, but all eyes were on the final pairing of Tom Stoltman and Mitchell Hooper to see if one of them could break the four-way tie for first place.
With both men looking strong as they passed the 6-rep mark, it was Stoltman who faltered at the vital moment, proving unable to lock out the crucial 7th rep. To compound the defending champ’s woes, Hooper was able to complete a 7th and 8th lift to win his second successive event of the final.
With Stoltman the wrong side of a 4-way point share for second, Mitchell Hooper moved into a 4.5-point lead ahead of Oleksii Novikov, with Trey Mitchell a single point behind the Ukrainian, and Tom just a half point further adrift.
Event 3: Fingal’s Fingers
|1st||Tom Stoltman (GBR)||5 in 39.36s||10||24||3rd|
|2nd||Oleksii Novikov (UKR)||5 in 42.26s||9||24.5||2nd|
|3rd||Trey Mitchell (USA)||5 in 48.46s||8||22.5||4th|
|4th||Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR)||5 in 48.69s||7||14||7th|
|5th||Evan Singleton (USA)||5 in 49.85s||6||15.5||5th|
|6th||Mitchell Hooper (CAN)||5 in 49.89s||5||25||1st|
|7th||Brian Shaw (USA)||4 in 26.61s||4||14.5||6th|
|8th||Luke Stoltman (GBR)||4 in 32.54s||3||8||9th|
|9th||Mathew Ragg (NZL)||4 in 35.03s||2||11.5||8th|
|10th||Jaco Schoonwinkel (RSA)||4 in 40.76s||1||5.5||10th|
The improving weather conditions allowed the Fingal’s Fingers to go ahead as scheduled on Day 1, albeit as event 3, rather than the opener. A much-used event in past World’s Strongest Man contests, the ten finalists were given 60-seconds to flip each of the five giant fingers through 180°. The weights for each implement were: 145kg (320lb), 154kg (340lb), 159kg (350lb, 163kg (360lb) and 172kg (380lb).
Luke Stoltman and Pavlo Kordiyaka got the Fingers underway under blue skies with Pavlo taking the win by completing the course in 48.69s. The Ukrainian’s time held up as Schoonwinkel and Singleton contested heat 2. T-Rex emerged the victor, becoming the second man to flip all five Fingers in a time that would see him place a solid 5th.
Tom Stoltman needed a fast time to recoup some of the points he lost in the deadlift. Facing Brian Shaw, who many had tipped to win this event, The Albatross ripped through the zig-zag course, smashing over each of the five digits in an incredible 39.36s. Shaw, having flipped a fast four, came unstuck on the final Finger and was forced to settle for 7th, effectively ending any realistic chance of him taking a record-equalling 5th WSM title.
In heat 5, Novikov bested Matt Ragg with a time of 42.26s to go into second with one pairing left to go. The fifth Finger proved too much for Ragg who would eventually finish 9th. The final pairing saw Trey Mitchell, in 3rd overall, go head-to-head with the contest leader, Mitchell Hooper. But it was the Texan who took top honours as he completed the five implements in 48.46s, whist Hooper’s time of 49.89s was just 0.04 seconds behind Singleton to place him 6th.
Tom Stoltman’s win saw him move up to 3rd overall, just a half point behind Novikov. Hooper’s slip-up saw his 4.5-point lead slashed to just half a point, with the first three athletes separated by only a single point.
Event 4: Max Dumbbell
|Place||Best Result||Points||Total Points||Overall
|=1st||Mitchell Hooper (CAN)||140kg (309lb)||9.5||34.5||1st|
|=1st||Evan Singleton (USA)||140kg (309lb)||9.5||25||5th|
|=3rd||Oleksii Novikov (UKR)||132kg (292lb)||6.5||31||2nd|
|=3rd||Tom Stoltman (GBR)||132kg (292lb)||6.5||30.5||3rd|
|=3rd||Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR)||132kg (292lb)||6.5||20.5||7th|
|=3rd||Luke Stoltman (GBR)||132kg (292lb)||6.5||14.5||9th|
|7th||Trey Mitchell (USA)||125kg (276lb)||3||25.5||4th|
|8th||Mathew Ragg (NZL)||125kg (276lb)||3||24.5||6th|
|9th||Brian Shaw (USA)||125kg (276lb)||3||17.5||8th|
|10th||Jaco Schoonwinkel (RSA)||No Lift||0||5.5||10th|
The opening event of Day 2 featured the only maximum weight event of these World’s, with the poundage increasing round-by-round. The oversized circus dumbbells needed to be lifted to the shoulder and then pressed one-armed overhead. This was the first time Dumbbell had been tested to max at WSM and with Oleksii Novikov holding the unofficial training world record of 153.2kg (338lb), it looked like a potentially strong event for the Ukrainian.
Round 1: 115kg (254lb)
All the athletes completed the 115kg dumbbell with the exception of Jaco Schoonwinkel who injured his knee and was forced to withdraw from the final.
Round 2: 125kg (276lb)
All the remaining nine athletes went clear on the 125kg implement.
Round 3: 132.5kg (292lb)
Trey Mitchell, Brian Shaw and Mathew Ragg were eliminated after being unable to lockout the third dumbbell. A total of six men successfully lifted this huge weight and progressed to round 4.
Round 4: 140kg (309lb)
Only Evan Singleton and event leader, Mitchell Hooper were able to complete this lift. Novikov’s failure came as a shock given his past prowess, whilst both Luke Stoltman and Pavlo Kordiyaka’s 132kg top lifts represented their best performances in the final so far. Crucially, Tom Stoltman was unable to match Hooper’s 140kg, and with the Scot being in a group of four men sharing equal 3rd place, he leaked to Hooper what at this point in the contest would have seemed a massive 3 points.
Neither Hooper or Singleton were able to lift the 145kg implement and so shared the victory. The Canadian re-established his lead to four points from Novikov, whilst Singleton closed the gap between himself and 4th placed Trey Mitchell to just half a point.
Event 5: Bus Pull
|1st||Mitchell Hooper (CAN)||30.24s||10||44.5||1st|
|=2nd||Tom Stoltman (GBR)||32.27s||8.5||39||2nd|
|=2nd||Evan Singleton (USA)||32.27s||8.5||33.5||4th|
|4th||Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR)||32.46s||7||27.5||6th|
|5th||Trey Mitchell (USA)||32.49s||6||31.5||5th|
|6th||Brian Shaw (USA)||32.65s||5||22.5||7th|
|7th||Luke Stoltman (GBR)||32.83s||4||18.5||8th|
|8th||Oleksii Novikov (UKR)||33.35s||3||34||3rd|
|9th||Mathew Ragg (NZL)||36.29s||2||16.5||9th|
|10th||Jaco Schoonwinkel (RSA)||Withdrawn||0||5.5||10th|
The penultimate event of this year’s final was a World’s Strongest Man classic – the Bus Pull. With a harness and rope to keep the athletes powering down the 20m course, this year’s vehicle seemed an easier pull than in previous years with all the athletes completing the course in around 32 seconds.
Oleksii Novikov was the event’s biggest casualty after completing the course in 33.35 seconds which was only good enough for 8th. Besting his effort were six athletes whose times were all within 0.6s of each other. Tom Stoltman and Evan Singleton recorded identical results of 32.27s to share 2nd place, but it was The Moose who proved himself to be in a league of his own in this discipline as he tore down the course in 30.24 s, carving over two seconds off the second-best time.
With just the Atlas Stones remaining, Hooper extended his lead to 5.5 points over Tom Stoltman, whilst Novikov dropped down the standings into 3rd, 5 points adrift of the Scot and with Evan Singleton, just a half point in arrears, snapping at his heels.
Event 6: Atlas Stones
|1st||Tom Stoltman (GBR)||5 in 33.26s||10||53.5||2nd|
|2nd||Mitchell Hooper (CAN)||5 in 36.96s||9||49||1st|
|3rd||Trey Mitchell (USA)||5 in 45.72s||8||39.5||4th|
|4th||Oleksii Novikov (UKR)||4 in 27.43s||7||41||3rd|
|5th||Evan Singleton (USA)||4 in 28.16s||6||39.5||5th|
|6th||Brian Shaw (USA)||4 in 35.88s||5||27.5||7th|
|7th||Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR)||4 in 45.86s||4||31.5||6th|
|8th||Luke Stoltman (GBR)||4 in 48.49s||3||21.5||8th|
|9th||Mathew Ragg (NZL)||4 in 49.50s||2||18.5||9th|
|10th||Jaco Schoonwinkel (RSA)||Withdrawn||0||5.5||10th|
As the final event, the athletes went in reverse total points order. In heats of two, the competitors needed to lift all five stones of ascending weight onto their plinths of descending height, in the fastest time possible. With a lead of 5.5 points, Mitchell Hooper could afford to finish no worse than 6th and still be guaranteed victory.
With fatigue now playing a major role, and the stones weighing in at a colossal 150kg (331lb), 160kg (353lb), 180kg (397lb), 200kg (441lb) and 210kg (463lb), only Trey Mitchell was able to complete the run of the 7 athletes in the first four heats. In the 4th pairing Oleksii Novikov needed to hold-off Evan Singleton to retain 3rd place. Neither completed the run, but Novikov’s four stones in 27.43s was good enough to keep him on the podium.
In the final pairing Hooper knew that the task of beating Tom Stoltman, widely regarded as the King of the Stones, was not one he needed to concern himself with. A moderately quick four stones would be enough to secure him his first World Title. Over a weekend where he barely put a foot wrong, Hooper lifted all 5 stones to take second place from Tom, whose winning time was 33.26s.
Tom’s event win secured him in 2nd place overall, a place he has not finished worse than, in the last four successive World’s. Hooper’s lead was cut by a single point to 4.5 points – enough to cement him the World’s Strongest Man title and round-off a truly dominant performance. The Moose’s trajectory of improvement is still in steep ascent. This could be the first of many titles yet to come!