Wales’s Rebecca Roberts snatched the Britain’s Strongest Woman crown from Lucy Underdown in a thrilling Power Stairs finale in Doncaster. In what was a landmark women’s only event for Giants Live, both ladies were tied on 47.5 points going into a thrilling winner-takes-all final event. Roberts’ flawless 29.78 second run was too much for Underdown, who lost a fraction of a second on the first weight and could not catch up.
Dedicating victory to her terminally ill father, there wasn’t a dry eye in the arena as the sell-out crowd saluted Roberts’ triumph. Underdown, who had captured the European title on the same event back in August, showed remarkable sportsmanship as she congratulated Roberts atop the stairs.
Both athletes had competed brilliantly all evening, trading event wins as they distanced themselves from the rest of the field. Only recently recovered from biceps surgery, England’s Andrea Thompson took the bronze medal after winning the night’s opener. She backed-up her Log Press victory with a superb run in the Yoke Carry, but she was not yet at full strength in the Sandbag Steeplechase or Power Stairs and the fight for the British title became a two-horse race.
As the current world record holder in the deadlift, Underdown took a much-expected win in the Axle Deadlift putting her just a single point ahead of the Welshwoman, and when she got the better of Roberts again, in the Sandbag Steeplechase – an event won with a stunning effort from Scotland’s Laura Baxter – it looked like it might be Lucy’s night. Crucially, however, Thompson got between them in the Yoke Carry, which Rebecca won by just 0.02 of a second, and the points were level as they went into the Power Stairs.
It had been an emotional evening for the women battling it out for the British title. As part of the show’s opening video the athletes spoke about what motivates them to train and compete and in their post-event interviews, many of them spoke of the huge growth in strongwoman and of the support they were receiving. The competitors left nothing on the arena floor and the Dome’s packed crowd were treated to a captivating display of women’s strength from a field that had won eight World Titles between them.
Donna Moore was as solid as a rock all evening and finished 4th overall. The three-times World’s Strongest Woman had four, 4th place finishes and ended the contest 6-points clear of Birmingham’s Naomi Hadley who had produced some very strong performances in the Yoke, Steeplechase and Power Stairs.
The likes of Chloe Brennan, Kate Connolly and the athlete regarded as the strongest pound for pound woman on the planet, Rhianon Lovelace, had all made several steps up in weight class and showed remarkable grit in battling implements designed for the heavyweight athletes. Brennan started slowly but found her form in the Yoke and Power Stairs, whilst Connolly, whose overhead strength is well known, managed an incredible 3 reps in the 90kg Log Press to place her =6th amongst much larger women.
Lovelace attacked the events in her usual style: with total commitment and aggression. She ground out 4 reps in the Axel Deadlift and looked thrilled to manage a lock-out in the Log. Her 7th place Sandbag run was super-impressive considering the bags were over 1.5 times her own bodyweight. But her agonising 43.32 second Yoke Carry took so much out of her that she was unable to attempt the Power Stairs and finished a highly creditable 10th overall.
As Roberts and Underdown waited to begin their Power Stairs final heat, they exchanged a fist-bump in a remarkable display of camaraderie that characterised the entire contest. As the starter’s whistle blew, they both exploded into action and it was Underdown who made the first step a fraction quicker, but she seemed to falter on the second, allowing Roberts to establish a narrow lead. Rebecca appeared quickest on the top steps, using her knees to push the weights fully on, with no need to waste time dragging the implement clear of the lip. As she gripped the final 150kg weight it was clear she wouldn’t be caught, and tears began to flow within seconds of finishing as a wave of cheering hit her from the crowd.
It was an astonishingly composed performance from Roberts, who was the 2021 World’s Strongest Woman. She appears to be in superb condition and had to be at her brilliant best to hold off a rampant Lucy Underdown. Both these ladies will be flying the flag for Great Britain at the OSG World’s Strongest Woman event in Charleston West Virginia, in December. Many of the other competitors will be joining them, in various age and weight divisions. The future of Strongwoman in Britain looks to be going from strength to strength!
Event 1: SBD Log Press
The 90kg Slater log was made to look like a twig in the hands of world record holder Andrea Thompson who cruised through the 8 reps she needed to take victory in the opening event. Roberts and Underdown have improved massively in this event and showed it with 7 reps apiece. Donna Moore and Emmajane Smith looked solid with 5 and 4 reps respectively, whilst Kate Connolly’s 3 repetitions was a tremendous effort for an U64kg lifter. England’s Chloe Brennan (U73kg) was not able to complete a rep, nor were Masters athletes Claire Myler and Ayshea Ullah, with the Open Division 90kg load proving too much.
|Event 1: Log Press|
|1||Andrea Thompson (ENG)||8 reps||13|
|=2||Rebecca Roberts (WAL)||7 reps||11.5|
|=2||Lucy Underdown (ENG)||7 reps||11.5|
|4||Donna Moore (ENG)||5 reps||10|
|5||Emmajane Smith (SCO)||4 reps||9|
|=6||Kate Connolly (ENG)||3 reps||7.5|
|=6||Katie Smith (ENG)||3 reps||7.5|
|8||Laura Baxter (SCO)||2 reps||6|
|=9||Naomi Hadley (ENG)||1 rep||4.5|
|=9||Rhianon Lovelace (WAL)||1 rep||4.5|
|=11||Ayshea Ullah (IRE)||0 reps||0|
|=11||Chloe Brennan (ENG)||0 reps||0|
|=11||Claire Myler (WAL)||0 reps||0|
Event 2: MIRAFIT Axel Deadlift
There are times when an athlete is so far ahead of their competitors that their performance looks almost laughably effortless. Having lifted a 318kg, 700lb world record just a few weeks ago, this 220kg Axle was never going to pose too much of a problem for Lucy Underdown, and she sped through 13 reps to top Roberts’ total without breaking sweat. It appeared that she could have approached 20 reps if the need had arisen and all anyone in the field could do was marvel at the Englishwoman’s incredible prowess in this event.
Thompson, a former deadlift world record holder, managed a very respectable 8-reps considering she only recently underwent biceps surgery, whilst Moore and Hadley’s 7 and 6 reps kept them well inside the top half of the line-up. For Kate Connolly and Rhianon Lovelace, a load over three times their bodyweight was always going to be a tall order, so Lovelace’s 4-reps was a truly remarkable feat.
|Event 2: Axel Deadlift|
|1||Lucy Underdown (ENG)||11 reps||13||24.5|
|2||Rebecca Roberts (WAL)||10 reps||12||23.5|
|3||Andrea Thompson (ENG)||8 reps||11||24|
|4||Donna Moore (ENG)||7 reps||10||20|
|=5||Naomi Hadley (ENG)||6 reps||8.5||13|
|=5||Katie Smith (ENG)||6 reps||8.5||16|
|7||Claire Myler (WAL)||5 reps||7||7|
|8||Rhianon Lovelace (WAL)||4 reps||6||10.5|
|9||Laure Baxter (SCO)||3 reps||5||11|
|10||Ayshea Ullah (IRE)||2 reps||4||4|
|11||Emmajane Smith (SCO)||1 rep||3||12|
|=12||Chloe Brennan (ENG)||0 reps||0||0|
|=12||Kate Connolly (ENG)||0 reps||0||7.5|
Event 3: SBD Sandbag Steeplechase
This was an utterly gruelling event for these women, with the hurdle doubling the number of pick-ups, draining the energy reserves from these tiring ladies. Laura Baxter attacked the 100kg bags with true ferocity and blasted through the course in 37.97 seconds. Her time, coming in just the second pairing, stood up through the whole event and could not be bettered. Roberts and Underdown had an epic race in the final heat, and although Lucy took the win, she fell half a second short of Baxter’s time and had to settle for 2nd.
Only five women completed the course, testament to the difficulty of this event. The larger women, with their longer arms and higher carrying positions, dominated, as might be expected, whist the lighter and shorter ladies showed no lack of courage as they battled through the full minute allocated. After a good start, Katie Smith struggled and could finish only 12th, effectively ending her hopes of a podium. She revealed later that she had been ill in the build up and was struggling to find her breath.
|Event 3: Sandbag Steeplechase|
|1||Laura Baxter (SCO)||Completed: 37.96 sec||13||24|
|2||Lucy Underdown (ENG)||Completed: 38.46 sec||12||36.5|
|3||Rebecca Roberts (WAL)||Completed: 40.76 sec||11||34.5|
|4||Donna Moore (ENG)||Completed: 52.19 sec||10||30|
|5||Naomi Hadley (ENG)||Completed: 52.35 sec||9||22|
|6||Claire Myler (WAL)||1 sack loaded: 31.32 sec||8||15|
|7||Rhianon Lovelace (WAL)||1 sack loaded: 31.86 sec||7||17.5|
|8||Andrea Thompson (ENG)||1 sack loaded: 43.81 sec||6||30|
|9||Emmajane Smith (SCO)||2 over hurdle: 24.58 sec||5||17|
|10||Ayshea Ullah (IRE)||2 over hurdle: 31.46 sec||4||8|
|11||Chloe Brennan (ENG)||2 over hurdle: 34.65 sec||3||3|
|12||Katie Smith (ENG)||2 over hurdle: 35.88 sec||2||18|
|13||Kate Connolly (ENG)||2 over hurdle: 43.35 sec||1||8.5|
Event 4: MIRAFIT Yoke Carry
Roberts had won this event at the European Championships back in March, but few were expecting Thompson to push her so hard. In the end she clinched victory by the smallest of margins in the penultimate heat with a superb sub-10 second clocking. In the final pairing Laura Baxter faced off against the competition leader, Underdown, and although the Englishwoman prevailed, her time was well short of the blistering pace exhibited by Thompson and Roberts.
Rebecca’s two-point advantage brought the overall scores level with just the Power Stairs remaining. Chloe Brennan was able to show the crowd her talents, with a fantastic 4th place finish against women of close to double her bodyweight, underlining her world-class ability in this event.
|Event 4: Yoke Carry|
|1||Rebecca Roberts (WAL)||9.65 sec||13||47.5|
|2||Andrea Thompson (ENG)||9.67 sec||12||42|
|3||Lucy Underdown (ENG)||12.66 sec||11||47.5|
|4||Chloe Brennan (ENG)||13.78 sec||10||13|
|5||Naomi Hadley (ENG)||13.86 sec||9||31|
|6||Ayshea Ullah (IRE)||15.05 sec||8||16|
|7||Laura Baxter (SCO)||15.62 sec||7||31|
|8||Donna Moore (ENG)||19.17 sec||6||36|
|9||Emmajane Smith (SCO)||19.82 sec||5||22|
|10||Katie Smith (ENG)||19.98 sec||4||22|
|11||Kate Connolly (ENG)||23.30 sec||3||11.5|
|12||Rhianon Lovelace (WAL)||43.42 sec||2||19.5|
|13||Claire Myler (WAL)||16.18m||1||16|
Event 5: SBD Power Stairs
The high tempo of a Giants Live evening show was beginning to take its toll on the competitors as they prepared to lift the four metal weights to the top of the Power Stairs in what would be the contest’s final discipline. For the lighter women, completing all twelve stairs proved a step too far, and it was Claire Myler who set the early running with a spectacular 41.76 second total run that would eventually place her 3rd.
Moore and Thompson both completed the course in respectable times before Roberts and Underdown began the evening’s final heat. It was the perfect finale to a breath-taking evening of strongwoman, with two of the world’s very best female athletes putting together a stunning display of power and endurance. Roberts grasped the moment with both hands, producing a technically brilliant winning performance. The crowd saluted not only her, as the victor, but showed huge appreciation for Underdown too, who had played her part in producing a truly memorable contest. These two ladies are at the top of their game and will surely be in the running for victory at World’s Strongest Woman, in December.
|Event 5: Power Stairs|
|1||Rebecca Roberts (WAL)||12 in 29.78 sec||13||60.5|
|2||Lucy Underdown (ENG)||12 in 33.76 sec||12||59.5|
|3||Claire Myler (WAL)||12 in 41.76 sec||11||27|
|4||Donna Moore (ENG)||12 in 45.57 sec||10||46|
|5||Naomi Hadley (ENG)||12 in 52.94 sec||9||40|
|6||Andrea Thompson (ENG)||12 in 53.84 sec||8||50|
|7||Katie Smith (ENG)||11 in 61.13 sec||7||29|
|8||Chloe Brennan (ENG)||11 in 74.54 sec||6||19|
|9||Laura Baxter (SCO)||10 in 26.70 sec||5||36|
|10||Emmajane Smith (SCO)||9 in 42.19 sec||4||26|
|11||Ayshea Ullah (IRE)||9 in 54.66 sec||3||19|
|12||Kate Connolly (ENG)||8 in 47.96 sec||2||13.5|
|13||Rhianon Lovelace (WAL)||Withdrawn||0||19.5|
|1||Rebecca Roberts (WAL)||60.5|
|2||Lucy Underdown (ENG)||59.5|
|3||Andrea Thompson (ENG)||50|
|4||Donna Moore (ENG)||46|
|5||Naomi Hadley (ENG)||40|
|6||Laura Baxter (SCO)||36|
|7||Katie Smith (ENG)||29|
|8||Claire Myler (WAL)||27|
|9||Emmajane Smith (SCO)||26|
|10||Rhianon Lovelace (WAL)||19.5|
|=11||Ayshea Ullah (IRE)||19|
|=11||Chloe Brennan (ENG)||19|
|13||Kate Connolly (ENG)||13.5|