After the spectacular success of last season’s World’s Strongest Nation, both Eddie Hall, and Martins Licis, have confirmed they will be leading their troops into battle for the World’s Strongest Nation. On November 8th, at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena, the strongest men and women of the UK and USA will be fighting it out to see which of these two great nations really is the strongest!
Last year’s contest saw the two greatest strength nations on earth pitted against each other in a thrilling head-to-head showdown. In a unique team event, featuring both male and female competitors, 8-man teams faced off over eight gruelling events, testing every aspect of the competitors’ strength and power. The goal in 2023, like last year, is to find out which of these two nations is truly the strongest.
For Licis and his All-American Heroes it will be a chance to take revenge on Hall’s British Bulldogs after their convincing win last year. Taking a 4-second advantage into the Power Stairs finale, Team UK’s Gavin Bilton placed the final weight atop the last stair to clinch victory for the Brits. Licis, who had been signed as captain just a few weeks previously, could only praise the efforts of his team and fire a warning at Hall, urging him to “heal up, because we need a fair rematch!”
Hall, who had come out of a five-year retirement to help the UK win the Hammer Hold, had injured his back in the Captains’ Event – the Viking Press, leaving Licis to take victory. It was one of only two wins for the Americans who had felt aggrieved at their loss in both the Hammer Hold and the Tug of War where according to them, the refereeing and had not gone in their favour.
Licis, aka The Dragon, is the 2019 World’s Strongest Man winner as well as the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic victor. Announcing earlier this year that 2023 would be a much-needed rest year for the Latvian-born American, his leadership of Team USA in Liverpool will be his first appearance this season. His confirmation as team captain will be a huge boost for Team USA.
Eddie Hall’s last full contest was the 2018 Britain’s Strongest Man where he collected his fifth consecutive title. He was the 2017 World’s Strongest Man winner and became famous all over the world after deadlifting half a tonne (500kg) in 2016, shattering the deadlift world record in the process. None of his customary drive and determination seemed to have deserted him as he drove his team to victory last year, provoking Colin Bryce to comment “I forgot quite how intense you are…the old Beast came out.”
With less than two months before World’s Strongest Nation returns, the Captain’s respective teams have now been announced: here’s the line-up:
Captain: Martins Licic
Women: Inez Carrasquillo, Gabi Dixson, Victoria Long, Nadia Stowers
Men: Kevin Faires, Trey Mitchell, Evan Singleton, Spenser Remick
Team Captain: Eddie Hall
Women: Donna Moore, Rebecca Roberts, Andrea Thompson, Lucy Underdown
Men: Gavin Bilton, Mark Felix, Luke Stoltman, Tom Stoltman
Stealing the Show
Last year’s contest proved to be a staggering success and one in which many felt the female athletes stole the show. Britain fielded three World’s Strongest Woman winners in Donna Moore (3-time winner), Andrea Thompson and Rebecca Roberts, but it was the USA’s Gabi Dixson who received most of the plaudits despite being on the losing side.
The 22-year-old IPL World Champion powerlifter produced the second-best time of the evening in the Hercules Hold, beating all her female competitors as well as three of the male athletes. Using the identical set-up to the men, Gabi’s 1:08.61 seconds was only bettered by world record holder Mark Felix. It was a result that shocked many and has done much to raise the profile of strongwoman and alter perceptions on just what the ladies are capable of.
Unsurprisingly, Dixson and Ines Carrasquillo will feature in the USA line-up once again, following their 5th and 3rdplace respective finishes at World’s Strongest Woman last year. Also returning this year will be Nadia Stowers, the 2022 and 2021 U82kg World’s Strongest Woman. Nadia will be competing against Open Division athletes but proved last year that she can more than hold her own against the bigger women.
Victoria Long’s victory at this year’s Arnold Strongman Classic, as well as her utterly dominant 2022 America’s Strongest Woman win, in which she won every one of the five events, has convinced Licis, if he needed any convincing, that she will be indispensable for Team USA. Long is seen by many to be one of the biggest threats for this year’s World’s Strongest Woman, having twice won the Arnold’s, America’s Strongest Woman and reigned supreme at last year’s Shaw Classic.
Team UK Captain, Eddie Hall, has the luxury of selecting from an immensely talented crop of British strongwomen. He has not hesitated to re-select Donna Moore, Rebecca Roberts, and Andrea Thompson – between them they boast five World’s Strongest Woman titles!
Roberts was the 2021 World’s Strongest Woman, and although she placed 8th last year, she fared much better at the Arnold’s where she claimed the runner-up spot behind Long. Andrea Thompson finished second at World’s and was just four points away from adding to the title she won in 2018. Thompson is a static powerhouse and specialises in both Log Press and Deadlift.
Donna Moore is a woman who many regard to be one of the strongest in history. DonDon is a three-time World’s Strongest Woman winner and is the current world record holder for lifting the heaviest ever Atlas Stone, at 171.3kg, earning her the additional nickname of Queen of the Stones. As the world’s most decorated strongwoman, Donna was a huge asset to the Bulldogs last year and surely an athlete who will make a massive impact once again.
Lucy Underdown is the current Britain’s Strongest Woman and women’s deadlift world record holder with 318kg – the first woman to achieve the 300kg and 700lb milestones. Her 4th place finish at World’s last year, as well as her recent OSG European Championship victory indicates she is becoming a more rounded competitor and big things are expected of her at World’s Strongest Woman later this year.
All four members of the women’s team will be competing at Britain’s Strongest Woman on September 30th. It will be the first time Giants Live has put on a women’s only show in the organisation’s history, illustrating the incredible surge in popularity of strongwoman right now. Much of this rise can be attributed to the incredible performances of the women at last year’s World’s Strongest Nation.
The men’s half of Team USA will see three of last year’s members returning to the fold, including Trey “Big Thicket” Mitchell, Spenser Remick and the man with the iron grip – Kevin Faires. Bobby Thompson will not be making the trip this year, but his replacement is a man who has been tearing it up on the Giants Live tour this summer, with wins at the Strongman Classic and Strongman Open shows – Evan Singleton.
The T-Rex has been in scintillating form since his 5th place finish at World’s Strongest Man back in April. Surprisingly, it was the 6-foot, 6-inch ex WWE wrestler’s first appearance in the final after a couple of years dealing with injury and health setbacks. His performance in Myrtle Beach seems to have boosted his confidence – if that were possible – and is likely to make a big impact in this year’s competition.
Trey Mitchell won the Shaw Classic last season and will be a massive asset to the American team with his superb static power and stone lifting ability. He finished a single place ahead of Singleton at World’s and recently triumphed at the North America’s Strongest Man contest in Victoriaville, Canada.
Both Spenser Remick and Kevin Faires were competing in the UK over the summer; both men took part in the Strongman Classic at the Royal Albert Hall. Remick was the 2022 Official Strongman Games Open winner, a victory that earned him his first appearance at World’s Strongest Man last year. Faires has been a regular on the Giants Live circuit and achieved his first podium finish at the World Tour Finals in Glasgow last autumn.
On the Team UK side, Eddie Hall has been spoilt for choice, once again, with the plethora of power available for him to select from. Team UK’s task of holding off the American’s has been given the biggest of boosts by the inclusion this year of the Stoltman brothers!
Younger brother, Tom, is a two-time World’s Strongest Man and finished runner-up this year behind Canadian Mitchell Hooper. Luke also made the final where he placed 8th in what was his fourth appearance. The pair are the only brothers in history to have competed in the World’s Strongest Man final.
Joining the Stoltman’s will be Gavin “The Bull” Bilton, who finished runner-up at both Britain’s Strongest Man and the Strongman Open and narrowly lost out on a place in the finals at WSM. The former professional rugby player recently won the Strongman Champions League contest in Serbia and looks to be going from strength to strength. In Cardiff last month he deadlifted a new Welsh record of 430kg, and if the fans are to be treated to a repeat of the Tug of War that was seen last year, it’s hard to imagine a better anchor man for the Brits!
Completing the British line-up will be the “Miracle Man” Mark Felix, who at 57, can almost guarantee victory in any grip-related discipline, though Evan Singleton and Kevin Faires will certainly push him hard. In April he became the oldest man to ever compete at World’s Strongest Man and though he announced his retirement from that competition he is still actively competing. He won the 50+ division at the Official Strongman European Championship in London’s Excel last August and is due to compete at England’s Strongest Man on October 1st as part of the Giants Live Weekend of Strength.
Darren Sadler and his events crew will soon be looking to put together the tests of strength the two teams will face in November. Last year there were eight events including a Farmer’s Walk relay, Hercules and Hammer Hold, Axle Deadlift, Log and Viking Press (The Captain’s Event), Tug of War and Power Stairs.
It was the Tug of War that arguably caused the greatest excitement of the evening, with Britain pulling the Americans across the line to take victory in both the men’s and women’s contests. The event formats involved accumulated times and reps and offered an interesting twist on the more established individual contest structure. Both teams would have learnt much from last year’s competition and will have plenty of tactical manoeuvres up their sleeves.
Tickets for what promises to be an unmissable event are on sale at https://giants-live.com/shows/worldsstrongestnation-2023/ Live-streaming will be available at www.officalstrongman.com With another opportunity to see the world’s greatest male and female strength athletes on show, doing what they do best, this is one battle you won’t want to miss!