Martins Licis’ Team USA were too good for the Brits as they powered to victory in Liverpool. They blew Eddie Halls’ squad away in the opening two events to make the best start possible in what was an exciting sequel to last year’s inaugural contest. Team UK took a while to get into their stride and closed what was at one point an 11-point gap to trail by just 3 points going into the Power Stairs. The Americans, however, were just too fast and it was Evan Singlton who sealed the win as he lifted his 250kg weight onto the final stair.
The T-Rex has already won twice on the Giants Live tour this year, and he proved to be the ace in Licis’ sleeve after taking three bonus points for the Americans. Achieving the fastest time in both the Sandbag Steeplechase and the Farmer’s Walk he also completed the most reps in the Dumbbell Press. Revelling in the role of Pantomime villain, he taunted Gavin Bilton after his team’s win in the Dumbbell and received much jeering and booing from the crowd for the rest of the evening.
In the opening six events, 3 points were awarded for an event win, with a bonus point given to the team whose member produced the best single performance in any given discipline – male or female. For every point the leading team was ahead by going into the Power Stairs finale, a 0.5-seconds head start was given. Both captains were in possession of a joker card, which they had the option to play on any of the first six events, doubling the 3-points available for a win.
After promising to return triumphantly after last year’s defeat, Licis and his team were gracious winners and praised the UK for mounting a tremendous comeback. Taking their first event win in the Axle Deadlift, thanks to Lucy Underdown’s sensational 13-rep performance, which earned her the bonus point, the Brits were left with a mountain to climb after the Dumbbell. Never believing they were beaten they closed to within 3 points, giving the Americans a meagre 1.5-second advantage in the Power Stairs.
Kevin Faires broke Mark Felix’ Wrecking Ball Hold world record with an incredible 1 minute, 53-seconds, adding over half a minute to the Balckburn man’s time. Faires is famed for his grip strength and has twice held the Nicol Stone world record. His iron hands didn’t prevent Team UK from completing their second event win though, as Felix bettered his own previous best with a 1 minute, 37-second effort that was good enough to help the Brits to a much-needed win.
The British squad completely dominated the Tug of War, winning all three pulls in convincing fashion. Following the age-old principle that “mass moves mass” Hall had no doubts about his teams’ superior bodyweight and successfully played his joker, as Licis had done in the Dumbbell. The women’s quartet of Donna Moore, Rebecca Roberts, Andrea Thompson and Lucy Underdown boasted 5 World’s Strongest Woman titles between them and wasted no time in dispatching Team USA. The American men faired little better and with Eddie Hall joining his team’s mixed eight, they completed a clean sweep of wins to claim a vital 6 points.
A second and a half advantage can be nullified with just one minor slip in the Power Stairs and the Americans knew it would count for very little if they were careless. Faires bested The Bull, whose weight overhung the final step and needed to be wrestled fully onto the platform. The Americans capitalised on Bilton’s minor error and both Erin Murray – the U82kg World’s Strongest Woman – and Martins Licis lifted faultlessly to extend the USA lead. Inez Carrasquillo stumbled and recovered as Rebecca Roberts and Luke Stoltman tried to narrow the lead, but Evan Singleton could afford to take his time as he completed the American victory.
The American captain was justifiably proud of his team’s performance and paid tribute to the British never-say-die attitude. They had clearly come to win and had hit the ground running in the opening events, looking too quick for the British. With one World’s Strongest Nation title apiece, next year’s show is a mouthwatering prospect and with little to separate the two nations it’s a contest that could, once again, come down to the wire.
The competition was available to livestream and is still available via officialstrongman.com.
Event 1: Mirafit Sandbag Steeplechase
All eight athletes from each team, excluding the captains, were straight into the action in the opening event. Racing head-to-head, each competitor picked up their sandbag (100kg for the women, 150kg for the men), dropping it over the hurdle placed at 10m. Retrieving the bag from the other side, they then heaved it onto the table at 20m before the next athlete begun.
Andrea Thompson, having not long recovered from biceps surgery struggled, as did Lucy Underdown, who let her bag slip from her grasp as she attempted to finish her run. The Americans, in contrast, were near-perfect in their execution and quickly developed a commanding lead. Inez Carrasquillo is so good at this event, she went twice, with both times eclipsing all her female competitors. Singleton finished off in style to take the win and the bonus point, affording Team USA the best possible start in their quest to wrest the title from Team UK’s grasp.
|Event 1: Sandbag Steeplechase|
|Inez Carrasquillo||18.20 sec|
|Rob Kearney||21.39 sec|
|Nadia Stowers||22.69 sec|
|Kevin Faires||20.44 sec|
|Erin Murray||19.59 sec|
|Spenser Remick||21.39 sec|
|Inez Carrasquillo||18.19 sec|
|Evan Singleton||17.56 sec||1 (Bonus)|
|Team Total Time||2:39.39 sec|
|Andrea Thompson||33.57 sec|
|Gavin Bilton||17.66 sec|
|Lucy Underdown||32.47 sec|
|Mark Felix||29.63 sec|
|Donna Moore||24.43 sec|
|Luke Stoltman||18.00 sec|
|Rebecca Roberts||19.99 sec|
|Tom Stoltman||18.12 sec|
|Team Total Time||3:13.87 sec|
Event 2: ClearScore Farmer’s Walk
In similar fashion to the opening event, all eight athletes from both teams faced off in what was a thrilling Farmer’s Walk race. The gruelling 40m distance tested the competitors’ hand strength to breaking point with the women’s implements weighing in at 90kg each and the men’s 140kg apiece.
Athletes such as Kevin Faires and Rebecca Roberts were in their element here, but it was Evan Singleton that reigned supreme as he literally broke into a run with these huge wooden logs. Roberts was the fastest woman of the night, but she could do nothing to stop Team USA walking away with the win.
|Event 2: Farmer’s Walk|
|Inez Carrasquillo||21.68 sec|
|Spenser Remick||23.26 sec|
|Nadia Stowers||34.25 sec|
|Martins Licis||21.12 sec|
|Erin Murray||24.65 sec|
|Kevin Faires||20.36 sec|
|Gabi Dixon||21.48 sec|
|Evan Singleton||18.10 sec||1 (Bonus)|
|Team Total Time||3:04.90 sec|
|Andrea Thompson||21.87 sec|
|Gavin Bilton||25.17 sec|
|Lucy Underdown||26.55 sec|
|Luke Stoltman||20.11 sec|
|Donna Moore||32.53 sec|
|Tom Stoltman||19.94 sec|
|Rebecca Roberts||20.87 sec|
|Mark Felix||26.61 sec|
|Team Total Time||3:13.65 sec|
Event 3: SBD Axle Deadlift
Pulling power would make or break each team’s chances in event 3, with the athletes facing these unyielding axles. There were four heats in all: two men’s and two women’s, with the total repetitions from each team determining who would take the three points. The fight for the bonus point was particularly intriguing, with some incredible deadlifters on display. None more so than Britain’s Lucy Underdown who recently lifted 700lb (318kg). Her 13 reps on these 220kg axles was an unbelievable performance and she certainly earned her team’s bonus point!
The men faced 360kg axles and could not match the rep-count of the women. With the men’s pairings all lifting 3 or 4 reps, Lucy’s score was decisive, and Team UK were finally able to get themselves onto the scoreboard and establish themselves in the contest.
|Event 3: Axle Deadlift|
|Andrea Thompson||8 reps|
|Lucy Underdown||13 reps||1 (Bonus)|
|Gavin Bilton||4 reps|
|Tom Stoltman||3 reps|
|Team Total Reps||28 reps|
|Gabi Dixson||10 reps|
|Nadia Stowers||6 reps|
|Rob Kearney||4 reps|
|Evan Singleton||3 reps|
|Team Total Reps||23 reps|
Event 4: boohooMAN Circus Dumbbell
Having exhibited their brute strength in the Axle Deadlift, the athletes showed their explosive power in the Circus Dumbbell. The men and women went head-to-head in an event that was in many ways the most technically challenging of the evening’s disciplines.
Britain’s Donna Moore – who has held world records in this event – and Andrea Thompson gave the UK a 1-rep lead as the two men’s pairings began. America’s Evan Singleton took top honours in the Max Dumbbell lift at this year’s World’s Strongest Man and his winning 7-reps was enough to overhaul the deficit and help his team to another maximum 4-point haul.
|Event 4: Circus Dumbbell *USA Played Joker|
|Nadia Stowers||4 reps|
|Inez Carrasquillo||5 reps|
|Rob Kearney||6 reps|
|Evan Singleton||7 reps||1 (Bonus)|
|Team Total Reps||22 reps|
|Donna Moore||4 reps|
|Andrea Thompson||6 reps|
|Luke Stoltman||6 reps|
|Gavin Bilton||3 reps|
|Team Total Reps||19 reps|
Event 5: Wrecking Ball Hold
This event was first held at a Giants Live contest at this year’s Strongman Open in Cardiff. On that occasion the supreme grip power of Mark Felix surpassed Evan Singleton’s 75.03 seconds establishing a best mark of 81.08 seconds. Trailing the American’s 4-15, the Brits knew they would need every ounce of Felix’s grip power to get them back in the mix.
Just as at last year’s Hercules Hold, the women used exactly the same apparatus as the men, but on this occasion USA’s Gabi Dixson was unable to make an impression as the swaying ball forced her off-balance and she dropped the orb after just 6-seconds. With Team USA trailing by over 50-seconds they looked written off, but Kevin Faires set-up a hugely exciting decider after single-handedly overhauling the entire Team UK advantage with his world record hold.
In the final heat, 57-year-old Mark Felix showed why he’s known as the Miracle Man, yet again. He could not surpass Faires’ brilliant time, but he was more than good enough to outlast Singleton to give UK the much-needed win.
|Event 5: Wrecking Ball Hold|
|Lucy Underdown||46.43 sec|
|Rebecca Roberts||57.47 sec|
|Gavin Bilton||1:02.02 sec|
|Mark Felix||1:37.38 sec|
|Team Total Time||4:23.30 sec|
|Gabi Dixson||6.84 sec|
|Nadia Stowers||46.01 sec|
|Kevin Faires||1:53.00 sec (WR)||1 (Bonus)|
|Team Total Time||4:01.84 sec|
Event 6: Tug of War
With Eddie Hall opting to use his joker, team USA knew their 9-point lead would count for little if the British contingent were to win at least two of the three pulls. There were three pulls in total, a women’s contest, a 4-man men’s match-up and an 8-a-side, mixed gender duel. With Team USA unable to get a foothold, Team UK romped to 3 wins in a row and closed the gap to just 3-points.
Team USA, having dominated in the opening stages now had just a slender lead.
|Event 6: Tug of War *UK played joker|
|Pull 1: Women (4v4)|
|1st||Team UK: Moore, Roberts, Thompson, Underdown|
|2nd||Team USA: Carrasquillo, Dixson, Murray, Stowers|
|Pull 2: Men (4v4)|
|1st||Team UK: Bilton, Felix, L. Stoltman, T. Stoltman|
|2nd||Team USA: Kearney, Licis, Remick, Singleton|
|Pull 3: Mixed (8v8)|
|1st||Team UK: Moore, Roberts, Thompson, Underdown, Bilton, Hall, L. Stoltman, T Stoltman||6||13|
|2nd||Team USA: Carrasquillo, Dixson, Murray, Stowers, Faires, Kearney, Licis, Remick||0||16|
Event 7: Castle Water Power Stairs
|Event 7: Power Stairs *USA take 1.5 sec advantage|
|1st||Team USA: Faires, Murray, Licis, Carrasquillo, Singleton|
|2nd||Team UK: Bilton, Moore, L. Stoltman, Roberts, T. Stoltman|
Three men and two women alternated carrying a weight each to the top of the stairs. The first team to get all five weights to the top would be crowned the World’s Strongest Nation 2023, with the two female participants tackling 125kg and 130kg implements and the men facing 225kg and a pair of 250kg weights. Their 3-point lead afforded the American’s a 1.5-second head start.
Martins Licis once again stepped up to help his team in this winner-takes-all finale. With the British struggling to clear the first step as they duck-walked their weight to the foot of the stairs, Team USA looked technically slick in comparison, clearing the step on each occasion. They were not going to let their lead slip and there were jubilant scenes as all nine team members celebrated their superb win on the top step. Massive congratulations to the American squad whose nine members can now lay claim to coming from the World’s Strongest Nation.