• 22 February, 2023

Bishop Claims Second British Title in Sheffield

England’s Adam Bishop took the Britain’s Strongest Man title for a second time on Saturday 28th of January in front of a packed crowd at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield’s Steel City. Confirming his status as one of Britain’s finest strongmen and putting last year’s injury woes behind him, the former professional rugby player looked back to his very best and has got his 2023 campaign off to the best possible start.

Winning four of the five events, Bish was pushed hard by the Welsh Bull, Gavin Bilton, England’s Graham Hicks, the 2019 champion, as well as the local hero, Paul Smith, who narrowly lost out on a podium finish.

With last year’s runner-up, Pa O’Dwyer, pulling out due to injury and Luke Richardson, the 2020 Europe’s Strongest Man, following suit, Bishop and Hicks were the only previous winners in this year’s field and were joint hot favourites to take top honours in a contest featuring six first timers at Britain’s.

Only eight men have ever won Britain’s Strongest Man more than once, the most recent being Scotland’s Tom Stoltman, who along with his brother Luke opted not to compete in Sheffield, choosing to focus on preparing for April’s World’s Strongest Man in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The Albatross’s absence served to leave this year’s title wide open and the 6,000-strong crowd were treated to one of the most exciting contests ever seen at Britain’s Strongest Man. Coming into the final event the top four were separated by just 3.5 points and the title could easily have gone to any one of them. Here’s how the events played out.


Event 1: Deadlift Ladder

The rising bar ladder format is now a regular one at Britain’s Strongest Man where both logs and dumbbells have opened previous contests. The athletes were given just 60 seconds to deadlift five bars weighing 300kg, 320kg, 340kg, 360kg, and 380kg.

With a near identical set-up used in the heats of last year’s World’s Strongest Man, where Bishop was the best performing Brit, this event went to the form book. Bish blasted through all five weights in just 28.09 seconds, over three seconds faster than his nearest rival, Graham Hicks.

The only men to complete the event came from the final two pairings with Gavin Bilton and Andy Black taking third and fourth. Mark Felix managed a quick 4 to finish ahead of the men who failed to lift all five bars.

Last year’s 4th place finisher, Shane Flowers, could only find strength to raise the first two weights and subsequently withdrew from the contest, citing some recent health issues that had caused him to drop 9.5kg in bodyweight leading into the show.


Event 1: Deadlift Ladder
Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Adam Bishop (ENG) 5 in 28.09 s 12 12
2 Graham Hicks (ENG) 5 in 31.79 s 11 11
3 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 5 in 48.35 s 10 10
4 Andy Black (SCO) 5 in 55.46 s 9 9
5 Mark Felix (ENG) 4 in 22.59 s 8 8
6 Paul Smith (ENG) 4 in 31.66 s 7 7
7 Kane Francis (ENG) 4 in 40.29 s 6 6
8 Louis Jack (SCO) 3 in 19.46 s 5 5
9 Zake Muluzi (SCO) 3 in 23.63 s 4 4
10 Ryan Bennett (ENG) 3 in 32.50 s 3 3
11 Cilléin Groom (IRE) 3 in 38.18 s 2 2
12 Shane Flowers (ENG) 2 in 10.23 s 1 1


Event 2: Car Walk

At 450kg, or nearly 1,000lb, this event has frequently put the brakes on many a title contender’s chances. However, there were no mistakes from Adam Bishop who covered the 20m course in a blistering 17.16 sec to make it two wins out of two and a perfect start to his title bid.

Sheffield’s Paul Smith delighted the crowd as he made his first major impact on the contest, taking second place ahead of Graham Hicks. The local favourite has twice placed 5th at Britain’s, and despite being the smallest man in the contest, has built a reputation as one of the fiercest competitors in the sport.

Mark Felix placed well, as expected in an event he has often excelled in. He was over three seconds ahead of Bilton, who made another solid showing.


Event 2: Car Walk
Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Adam Bishop (ENG) 17.16 s 12 24
2 Paul Smith (ENG) 18.46 s 11 18
3 Graham Hicks (ENG) 19.66 s 10 21
4 Mark Felix (ENG) 21.03 s 9 17
5 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 24.35 s 8 18
6 Ryan Bennett (ENG) 26.25 s 7 10
7 Kane Francis (ENG) 34.54 s 6 12
8 Andy Black (SCO) 38.64 s 5 14
9 Cilléin Groom (IRE) 49.53 s 4 6
10 Louis Jack (SCO) 52.46 s 2.5 7.5
=10 Zake Muluzi (SCO) 52.46 s 2.5 6.5
12 Shane Flowers (ENG) Withdrew 0 1


Event 3: Viking Press

The evening’s third event resulted in plenty of movement on the leader board as Paul Smith brought the Sheffield crowd to their feet by winning the 150kg (331lb) Viking Press with a new world record of 13 repetitions.

Going in the final pairing with Bishop, this was an event where Smith was quietly confident and having watched Hicks, Bilton and Gaints Live rookie Ryan Bennett tie on 12 reps, the Sheffield man proceeded to smash out his reps in metronomic fashion, showing remarkable whole-body explosivity.

To his left, Bishop could only manage 8 reps, tying for 7th with Andy Black, while Felix, who struggles overhead, could do no better than 11th with a single lift. Like Bennett, Kane Francis – also making his Giants Live debut – had a strong performance, reaching double figures in an event he claimed to be weak in.

These results handed Hicks the overall lead, with Smith just a single point behind, and a half point clear of Bishop. With Bilton in 4th, these four were now well clear of the rest of the field and it looked likely that they would contest the podium places, although at this stage it was wide open.


Event 3: Viking Press
Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Paul Smith (ENG) 13 reps 12 30
=2 Graham Hicks (ENG) 12 reps 10 31
=2 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 12 reps 10 28
=2 Ryan Bennett (ENG) 12 reps 10 20
5 Kane Francis (ENG) 10 reps 8 20
6 Louis Jack (SCO) 9 reps 7 14.5
=7 Adam Bishop (ENG) 8 reps 5.5 29.5
=7 Andy Black (SCO) 8 reps 5.5 19.5
9 Zake Muluzi (SCO) 6 reps 4 10.5
10 Cilléin Groom (IRE) 5 reps 3 9
11 Mark Felix (ENG) 1 rep 2 19
12 Shane Flowers (ENG) Withdrew 0 1


Event 4: Loading Race

With the opening three events being either static or, in the case of the Car Walk, extremely heavy, event 4 offered the opportunity for the athletes to show their pace and endurance. Four implements needed to be loaded into skips: an anchor, sack, barrel and tyre, each weighing around 120kg (265lb).

In an event that normally favours the smaller, more agile men, the two biggest athletes in the field, Gavin Bilton and Andy Black faired extremely well, with The Bulldozer, Black, taking 4th, whilst a slimmed-down Welsh Bull placed second.

Bishop got his title hopes back on track with his 3rd event win, finishing just under a second quicker than Bilton. Paul Smith, riding the crest of a wave, placed third, showing tremendous speed between the implements, as Kane Francis continued his excellent showing, managing 5th.

Hicks found himself in 6th, ceding the overall lead to Bish and dropping to 4th overall, with Smith in second and Bilton 3rd. These leading four athletes were separated by just 3.5 points, despite Bishop winning three of the first four events. With one event to go, the title was still anyone’s!


Event 4: Loading Race
Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Adam Bishop (ENG) 4 in 39.09 s 12 41.5
2 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 4 in 40.08 s 11 39
3 Paul Smith (ENG) 4 in 41.60 s 10 40
4 Andy Black (SCO) 4 in 41.65 s 9 28.5
5 Kane Francis (ENG) 4 in 42.51 s 8 28
6 Graham Hicks (ENG) 4 in 43.64 s 7 38
7 Cilléin Groom (IRE) 4 in 44.61 s 6 15
8 Louis Jack (SCO) 4 in 45.90 s 5 19.5
9 Mark Felix (ENG) 4 in 49.84 s 4 23
10 Ryan Bennett (ENG) 4 in 52.08 s 3 23
11 Zake Muluzi (SCO) 4 in 64.27 s 2 12.5
12 Shane Flowers (ENG) Withdrew 0 1


Event 5: Power Stairs

In what is now becoming a more regular departure from the traditional Atlas Stones finale, the British title’s destination would be decided by the five weights and 15 steps comprising the Power Stairs. After four gruelling events, at the breakneck pace of an evening arena contest, the implements weighing 200kg, 210kg, 225kg, 240kg, and 250kg would need to be raised up a total of 15 steps – a feat that would surely be too much for many of the competitors.

To retain his lead and take the title Bishop needed to place ahead of Smith in the final pairing and allow no more than two men to finish between him and Bilton, should the Welshman go quicker.

In the earlier pairings Mark Felix received an ovation from the crowd after he became the first man to complete the course – only four men would do so on the night. In the penultimate heat Bilton made good use of his 6-foot, 6-inch frame, besting Hicks by over 5-secoonds and assuring himself a spot on the podium.

In the final pairing Smith, who had battled so hard up to this point, met his match in the Power Stairs and could manage just three implements as Adam Bishop blitzed the event with a champion’s performance, beating his competitors by a massive 10-seconds.

Paul Smith’s 11th place finish saw him drop out of the podium places to 4th and his anguish was shared by almost everyone in the crowd. Hicks took third place behind Gavin Bilton, who climbed to 2nd on his Britain’s Strongest Man debut.

Event 5: Power Stairs
Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Adam Bishop (ENG) 15 in 36.65 s 12 53.5
2 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 15 in 47.35 s 11 50
3 Graham Hicks (ENG) 15 in 52.99 s 10 48
4 Mark Felix (ENG) 15 in 57.19 s 9 32
5 Kane Francis (ENG) 14 in 55.37 s 8 36
6 Andy Black (SCO) 14 in 57.66 s 7 35.5
7 Ryan Bennett (ENG) 14 in 57.83 s 6 29
8 Zake Muluzi (SCO) 11 in 43.32 s 5 17.5
9 Louis Jack (SCO) 11 in 50.79 s 4 23.5
10 Paul Smith (ENG) 9 in 29.27 s 3 43
11 Cilléin Groom (IRE) 9 in 33.82 s 2 17
12 Shane Flowers (ENG) Withdrew 0 1

It’s hard to believe that an athlete could win four of the five events and win by only 3.5 points, but such was the strength in depth in the Viking Press, where Bish had his only slip-up of the evening. Having recently recovered from a triceps rupture, it was perhaps not surprising to see Bishop below his best in a pressing event, but in all other respects he appeared to be in superb shape. There’s little doubt he will have high hopes for Europe’s Strongest Man on 1st April at Leed’s First Direct Arena.

Huge congratulations must also go to Gavin Bilton for making his first Giants Live podium and for producing arguably the most consistent performance of his career. Paul Smith continues to amaze crowds with his enormous athleticism and competitiveness. It will surely not be long before he features on the podium.

Another notable performance was the hugely creditable 5th place from rookie Kane Francis who impressed everybody with his nerveless showing. He looked right at home in front of the Sheffield crowd and we’re certain to see more of him in the very near future.

Bishop, Bilton and Hicks have booked their places for the 2023 World’s Strongest Man later this year and they’re certain to be joined by brothers Luke and Tom Stoltman, the defending champion, to make up a British contingent that will surely do some serious damage!

Overall Standings

Overall Standings
Place Name Overall Points
1 Adam Bishop (ENG) 53.5
2 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 50
3 Graham Hicks (ENG) 48
4 Paul Smith (ENG) 43
5 Kane Francis (ENG) 36
6 Andy Black (SCO) 35.5
7 Mark Felix (ENG) 32
8 Ryan Bennett (ENG) 29
9 Louis Jack (SCO) 23.5
10 Zake Muluzi (SCO) 17.5
11 Cilléin Groom (IRE) 17
12 Shane Flowers (ENG) 1