There’s less than a week to go before the nation’s best strongwomen will be battling it out for the title of Britain’s Strongest Woman. The action gets underway at the Doncaster Dome this Saturday 30th October, at 5.00pm, and the line-up is best described in one word: STACKED!
No fewer than eight World’s Strongest Woman titles have been won by the thirteen athletes who’ll be facing off over five punishing events this weekend. As the opening leg of Giants Live’s Weekend of Strength, this will be the first time Giants has hosted a women’s only contest – and what a way to start! Picking a winner from this line-up of superwomen is no simple task!
Following the monumental success of the women’s performances at the World’s Strongest Nation last November, the popularity and success of strongwoman has never been in such good health. The USA vs UK team show was well and truly stolen by the ladies, with America’s Gabi Dixson besting all the male athletes, barring Mark Felix, in the Hercules Hold. That performance, amongst others, has proven to be a game changer and the future is looking bright for the female athletes.
And if Britain’s Strongest Woman isn’t enough to satisfy the appetite of strength fans, on the following afternoon the Dome will be hosting a second competition, and this time it will be the turn of the men. England’s Strongest Man will be going ahead on Sunday 1st October in the second instalment of what promises to be a weekend strength extravaganza!
Both contests are available to watch via livestream at www.officialstrongman.com
Defending champion, Lucy Underdown, is riding the crest of a wave at present, and will take some stopping on Saturday night. In August she claimed the OSG European Championship, defeating Rebecca Roberts, and just last month she raised her own deadlift world record to an astonishing 318kg, or in old money, 700lb!
With no other female lifter on the planet yet to reach 300kg in competition, Lucy’s deadlifting is in a league of its own. The Kent based police officer claimed this title last year, beating Katie Smith and Naomi Hadley into 2nd and 3rd. Prising the trophy from her grasp this time around will take some doing!
Welsh Wonderwoman, Rebecca Roberts, is the 2021 World’s Strongest Woman and former European champion. Placing 3rd at this year’s Arnold Strongman Classic, she is unquestionably among the world’s elite and a clear threat to the title. At a lofty 6-foot 4-inches she is usually the tallest woman in any contest and is renowned for her prowess in grip-related and carrying events. She will be near impossible to beat in the Yoke Carry.
Bringing another World title to the table, as well as a bevy of world records, will be England’s Andrea Thompson who topped the rostrum at World’s in 2018. She has been on the podium twice since, and was second last year, losing out to Ukraine’s Olga Liashchuk, despite winning three of the six events. She has been recovering from biceps surgery in the build up to Saturday’s contest.
Andrea has enjoyed huge success at Britain’s Strongest Woman, taking the title four times, winning in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Look out for Andrea in the opening event – Log Press – she is the world record holder, lifting 140kg (308lb) at the World Championships last year. She has also set world records in Deadlift, including a staggering 800lb (363kg) Hummer Tyre Deadlift at the Arnold’s in 2022.
England’s Katie Smith was runner-up at both Britain’s and England’s Strongest Woman last year and is quickly moving up the rankings. She placed 3rd at the OSG European Championships back in August, behind Roberts and Underdown. She is a consistent performer and could well cause some upsets on the night and challenge the podium places.
Moving Up in Weight Class
What BSW line-up would be complete without the queen of British strongwoman, Donna Moore. She has won the sport’s top title three-times: in 2016, 2017 and 2019. Moore was also the Arnold Strongman Classic winner in 2018. She is renowned for her supreme stone lifting ability and has established the world record for maximum Atlas Stone lifting with a successful effort of 171.3kg (378lb).
Donna has recently dropped a substantial amount of body mass from her peak weight of 105kg/231lb, slimming down to under 82kg in order to compete in the middle-weight category with the aim of winning the World Title in that division. She was 3rd at the 2022 World’s Strongest Woman U82kg class but will be competing in the open division in Doncaster.
With four strongwoman weight divisions, several of this year’s contenders will be moving up in weight class to compete in this “open” contest. The most notable of these is a Welsh athlete considered to be the strongest pound for pound woman on the planet – Rhianon Lovelace.
Rhianon will be stepping-up from her the U64kg weight class in which she is the reigning and two-time World’s Strongest Woman – to mix it with the big girls. For most athletes a daunting and unthinkable task, but to “Rhi,” who has set world records across four weight divisions, just another day at the office! Her records include best ever U64kg lifts in Atlas Stone, Axle Press, and most notably deadlift, where her 282.5kg/623lb pull is a record across three weight categories. Even more impressively, her world record Axle Deadlift of 261.5kg/577lb is the greatest axle deadlift by any woman in any weight category.
At Britain’s Strongest Woman she has never been beaten, appearing 4 times since 2018, and winning the U64’s each time. It will not be the first time she has mixed it with the heavyweights: at the 2021 UK’s Strongest Woman she placed an impressive 6th, and at the Arnold UK event she finished 1st in the Log & Deadlift Championships.
Joining her from the U64’s will be Kate Connolly who pushed Lovelace hard at the recent European Championships. Connolly podiumed at World’s Strongest Woman in 2021 and has twice finished 4th. She is outstanding overhead, so should get off to a good start with the Log Press first up.
England’s Chloe Brennan competed formerly in the U64’s but moved up to the U73kg division, where she recently won the European Championship despite no-lifting in the Log Press, which was the contest’s opening event. Brennan also won the Arnold Pro UK title last year but is perhaps best known for being the first woman to successfully lift the Rogue replica Dinnie Stones, which have a combined weight of 332.5kg/733lb. Even more impressively, she was still competing in the U64kg division at the time. Chloe is an accomplished performer in the Super Yoke, so should do particularly well in event 4.
Emma-Jane Smith will be moving up from the U82’s where she placed 8th at World’s Strongest Woman. She is a three-times Scotland’s Strongest Woman and like Brennan has achieved renown through lifting the famous Dinnie Stones. She was the first woman to ever lift the original granite stones without the use of straps, achieving an unassisted partial lift in 2019.
Joining Emma-Jane from north of the border is another three-time Scotland’s Strongest Woman and U82kg lifter, Laura Baxter. Taking up weight training just four years ago to help her disabled daughter, Baxter is the reigning Britain’s Strongest Woman from the U82’s.
Midland’s based Naomi Hadley, at 6-foot, 1-inch, will be the second tallest woman in the contest, after Rebecca Roberts. In August, the mother of four, who has a 6-foot, 6-inch wingspan won the European Championship in the Master’s 40+ division. Her best event is the Yoke Carry, so she’ll be looking to pick up good points in event 4. She is the reigning England’s Strongest Woman and placed third at this event last year.
Ayshea Ullah of Ireland will be joining Naomi from the Master’s 40+ class. Ullah placed 4th at the European Championships, two places adrift of Wales’s Claire Myler who took an impressive silver. Claire is the Master’s 50+ World’s Strongest Woman and will be the oldest woman competing at Doncaster. Her 260kg deadlift best is a record for any woman over 50 and will stand her in good stead in event 2: Axle Deadlift.
Darren Sadler and his crew have selected five hugely demanding events for the thirteen athletes contesting the title this year. With the fast-paced evening show format, they combine static repetition lifting with two carrying events and by the time these ladies get to the Power Stairs finale, there will be some very fatigued bodies.
Event 1: Log Press
In the opening event the competitors will lift 90kg/198lb logs for as many repetitions as possible in 60-seconds. The athletes will lift head-to-head in pairs and will be required by the referees to wait for a down signal at lock-out before lowing the implements back to the pads. Andrea Thompson is the world record holder for max log and if her biceps is fully healed, she will be extremely hard to beat here.
Event 2: Axle Deadlift
The women’s lower bodies and backs will be put to the test in the second discipline. Lifting in pairs, the contenders’ will be pulling 220kg/485lb axles for as many repetitions as possible inside a minute. It’s hard to imagine anyone bettering Lucy Underdown in this one and it will be fascinating to see just how many reps she will get; well in excess of 10 is likely. The women will be lifting in reverse order of their placing in the previous event.
Event 3: Sandbag Steeplechase
As a relatively new event on the Giants Live roster, the Sandbag Steeplechase was inaugurated at the European Championships in August and is scheduled to be used at England’s Strongest Man. Two 100kg/220lb bags must be picked and carried 10m, then dropped over a 1m hurdle. The competitors, who will be racing in twos, must then collect the bags from the other side and carry them a further 10m to be loaded onto a plinth.
Lucy Underdown won this exact event at Europe’s in a time of 41.98 seconds. Both Kate Connolly and Rhianon Lovelace went quicker, with Lovelace finishing in a blistering 30.47 seconds, but their sacks were 75kg and a 33% increase in weight could make a significant difference to their times in Doncaster.
Event 4: Yoke Carry
The penultimate event will see the athletes racing down a 20m straight, carrying 260kg/573lb yokes. Rebecca Roberts will be very hard to beat in this event and may well go sub-10 seconds. She won at OSG Europe’s with a 10.54 second clocking with a 280kg yoke, heavier than the one being used in Doncaster. Chloe Brennan recorded 10.98 seconds with 240kg and should fare well, as could Naomi Hadley who recorded a 12.65 second run, also with 240kg.
Event 5: Power Stairs
To finish off what promises to be a titanic contest, the women will be ascending the Power Stairs with four weights of 120kg/265lb, 130kg/287lb, another 130kg implement and a 150kg/331lb weight to finish. Being the final event, the heats will be determined by reverse order of total points after the first four events, meaning the two leading ladies will go in the final heat.
The stairs are a gruelling finish to any contest and body dimensions can prove pivotal in this event. Some competitors will naturally lift the weights higher as they stand straight and will clear each step more comfortably.
The whole contest will be available to watch via livestream at www.officialstrongman.com