• 14 April, 2024
  • 5 mins

Stoltman Secures Second European Title!

Scotland’s Luke Stoltman captured his second Europe’s Strongest Man title in what was one
of the most dramatic final events in Giants Live history. In front of a sell-out 8,000 strong
Leeds crowd, he trailed Oleksii Novikov and Ondřej Fojtů coming into the final event. In
sensational scenes, the Highland Oak dead heated with Aivars Šmaukstelis in the penultimate
pairing of the Castle Stones. In the final heat, Novikov appeared to pull his right biceps as he
attempted the last stone, whilst Fojtů’s could only lift four of the five implements, handing a single
point winning margin to Stoltman.

Overcome with emotion, Luke held his head in his hands as he realised he had done enough to
repeat his 2021 triumph. On that occasion, he had led Novikov throughout, but this time he had to
come from behind as Novikov fell to 3rd and Fojtů, who had produced a stunning ESM debut
performance, slipped out of the podium places to 4th.

Paying tribute to his wife Kushi and his newborn son Koa, he was leant support on the night by his
brother, Tom, the two-time World’s Strongest Man. Luke hailed Europe’s as the greatest one-day
strongman show in the world and asked the crowd to chant his son’s name. Speaking about Tom’s
World’s prep, he fired a warning at the current Word’s Strongest Man: “What Tom is doing in
training right now is unbelievable. Mitchell Hooper, you’d better watch out!”

Aivars Šmaukstelis was forced to contemplate what might have been, as he missed out on the title
by the smallest of margins. Had the judges, after lengthy deliberation, determined that he had
released his hands from the final Atlas Stone a fraction of a second before Stoltman, the title would
have been his. Such are the small margins by which contests are won or lost, but having finished 3 rd
last year, the Latvian once again proved what a consistent performer he is.

Last year’s champion, Pavlo Kordiyaka made a promising start to the show, with solid 4th place
finishes in the opening two events. An 11th place finish in the Deadlift Ladder, however, put paid to
his title defence and he would eventually finish in equal 7 th with Pa O’Dwyer and World’s Strongest
Master, Rauno Heinla, who at 41 had claimed victory in the Deadlift Ladder.

The Czech Republic’s Ondřej Fojtů confirmed himself, at just 22-years-of-age, as one of
Strongman’s most promising stars. He got off to the best of starts, with a winning carry of the Nicol
Stones, and then topped the line-up, once again, in the Viking Press. His performance was deserving
of a podium finish, but his efforts may well be enough to see him on a plane to South Carolina for
next month’s World’s Strongest Man.

Italy’s Nicolas Cambi was another debutant who made a big impression. Finishing 6th overall, the
former U105kg World’s Strongest Man proved he can mix it with the big boys and recovered from a
disappointing Nicol Stone effort to take a brilliant second in the Car Walk and equal 3rd in the Viking
Press. As a multiple overhead world record holder in the lighter weight division, it was no surprise to
see him do well in event 3 and he is certainly an athlete the Giants crowds will be seeing more of!
There were mixed fortunes for the remaining Brits, with Welsh Bull Gavin Bilton failing to reproduce
his superb form from Britain’s Strongest Man last January. Taking a disappointing 11th in the Nicol
Stones, he never really got out of third gear and must now look to regroup before World’s in May. Shane Flowers’ event win in the Castle Stones was the highlight of his evening and saw him gain a few positions to finish a respectable 5th.

The Georgian Bull, Konstantine Janashia, also struggled with his form and withdrew after
three events. He took 3rd in his last appearance in Leeds, back in 2022, but looked a shadow
of his former self on this occasion. Sweden’s Fredrik Johansson, also making his debut, put in an excellent performance in the Deadlift Ladder but was forced to withdraw after injuring his knee in event 4.

On a night that saw Europe’s finest battling it out, there was a fitting farewell to one of the
continent’s, and indeed the World’s, greatest strength athletes – Mark Felix. A moving film was aired
on the arena’s screens as Mark received a lifetime award from three-time World’s Strongest Man,
Bill Kazmier. Mark will still be appearing at this year’s England’s Strongest Man on June 22nd at the
York Barbican but will be stepping away from Giants Live’s international contests.

Event 1: SBD Nicol Stones Carry
No one moved across the arena floor with more ease than Ondřej Fojtů, and his 24.18m
distance would have been a world record two years ago. Shane Flowers got his campaign off to a
promising start with an excellent effort of 22.62m, while both Luke Stoltman and Aivars Šmaukstelis
were content to stop after one length of the 20m course and made no attempt to make the turn.
Both Janashia and Bilton looked to struggle with their grips and seemed to be in significant
pain after making their one permitted drop. Kordiyaka’s 17.15m was his best Nicol Stone
carry to date but was only good enough to put the defending champion in 5th.

Event 1: SBD Nicol Stones Carry

Place Name Result Points
1 Ondřej Fojtů (CZE) 24.18m 12
2 Shane Flowers (GBR) 22.62m 11
=3 Aivars Šmaukstelis (LAT) 20.00m 9.5
=3 Luke Stoltman (GBR) 20.00m 9.5
5 Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR) 17.15m 8
6 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 16.91m 7
7 Fredrik Johansson (SWE) 14.63m 6
8 Rauno Heinla (LAT) 14.13m 5
9 Nicolas Cambi (ITA) 13.93m 4
10 Oleksii Novikov (UKR) 13.00m 3
11 Gavin Bilton (GBR) 12.64m 2
12 Konstantine Janashia (GEO) 10.21m 1

Event 2: BoohooMAN Car Walk
Only half a second separated the top four athletes as the iconic Car Walk made its return to Giants
Live. Novikov and Cambi produced the most exciting heat as the Italian’s impressive foot speed took
him comfortably ahead of the Ukrainian. With the finish line just before him, Cambi stumbled and it
looked as though Novikov would come past him, but with a tremendous effort he re-lifted his VW
and crossed the line just a tenth of a second ahead of Novikov.

The event win was taken by Luke Stoltman, who has a good record in this discipline. Comfortably
beating Šmaukstelis, the Scot recorded 16.13 seconds and he pumped his fist in delight as the
referees told him his time. His performance would take him into first place overall, ahead of Fojtů in
second and Kordiyaka in 3rd.

All twelve of the athletes were able to successfully complete the 20m course with these 450kg cars.
But this was a damaging event for both Gavin Bilton and Shane Flowers who placed 10th and 11th
respectively and were forced to concede big points to their rivals.

Event 2: BoohooMAN Car Walk

Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Luke Stoltman (GBR) 16.13 sec 12 21.5
2 Nicolas Cambi (ITA) 16.57 sec 11 15
3 Oleksii Novikov (UKR) 16.67 sec 10 13
4 Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR) 16.73 sec 9 17
5 Konstantine Janashia (GEO) 22.38 sec 8 9
6 Aivars Šmaukstelis (LAT) 24.33 sec 7 16.5
7 Ondřej Fojtů (CZE) 26.09 sec 6 18
8 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 27.69 sec 5 12
9 Rauno Heinla (EST) 29.16 sec 4 9
10 Gavin Bilton (GBR) 32.16 sec 3 5
11 Shane Flowers (GBR) 41.54 sec 2 13
12 Fredrik Johansson (SWE) 48.10 sec 1 7

Event 3: MiraFit Deadlift Ladder
As the 2022 World Deadlift Champion and the man with the biggest pull in the line-up, it was no
surprise to see Estonia’s Rauno Heinla take victory. He successfully lifted all five barbells in 41.28
seconds and was one of just four men to manage the final 380kg implement. Oleksii Novikov looked
more at ease in this discipline than he had at any point so far, taking second, whilst Fredrik
Johansson proved why deadlift is his favourite event with his 50.60 second run.
Pa O’Dwyer was the only other man to finish, gaining him his best points of the night. Cambi’s fast
four earned him 5 th , just ahead of a three-man group separated by just over a second. Kordiyaka’s 4
in 62.53 was in stark contrast to his winning performance in last year’s Ladder, though on that
occasion it was of the overhead variety, with Logs, rather than Deadlifts. Luke Stoltman’s 10 th place
finish dealt a blow to his title bid, and he knew that he would be able to afford no more errors if he
was to relive his 2021 victory.

Event 3: MiraFit Deadlift Ladder

Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Rauno Heinla (EST) 5 in 41.28 sec 12 21
2 Oleksii Novikov (UKR) 5 in 47.91 sec 11 24
3 Fredrik Johansson (SWE) 5 in 50.60 sec 10 17
4 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 5 in 61.35 sec 9 21
5 Nicolas Cambi (ITA) 4 in 30.02 sec 8 23
6 Aivars Šmaukstelis (LAT) 4 in 31.65 sec 7 23.5
7 Shane Flowers (GBR) 4 in 31.73 sec 6 19
8 Gavin Bilton (GBR) 4 in 32.77 sec 5 10
9 Ondřej Fojtů (CZE) 4 in 35.23 sec 4 22
10 Luke Stoltman (GBR) 4 in 52.76 sec 3 24.5
11 Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR) 4 in 62.53 sec 2 19

Event 4: Iveco Viking Press
Ondřej Fojtů stormed to a two-rep win with the 150kg Viking Press, just two reps shy of Trey
Mitchell’s record. As the current U23 Log Lift world record holder, he was highly fancied to do well
and his second event win of the night would put him to within a point of Oleksii Novikov, whose 14
reps would be sufficient for second and the overall lead.
Stoltman’s 13-reps saw him join Šmaukstelis and Cambi for a three-way share of 3rd place. It would
mean him relinquishing is lead to both Fojtů and Novikov, but with just three points separating the
top 5, the title would be anybody’s as the athletes headed into the Castle Stone finale.

Event 4: Iveco Viking Press

Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Ondřej Fojtů (CZE) 16 reps 12 34
2 Oleksii Novikov (UKR) 14 reps 11 35
=3 Luke Stoltman (GBR) 13 reps 9 33.5
=3 Aivars Šmaukstelis (LAT) 13 reps 9 32.5
=3 Nicolas Cambi (ITA) 13 reps 9 32
6 Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR) 12 reps 7 26
=7 Gavin Bilton (GBR) 11 reps 5.5 15.5
=7 Shane Flowers (GBR) 11 reps 5.5 24.5
9 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 8 reps 4 25
10 Rauno Heinla (EST) 6 reps 3 24
11 Fredrik Johansson (SWE) 0 reps 0 17
12 Konstantine Janashia (GEO) Withdrew 0 10

Event 5: The Castle Water Stones
The final three pairings would decide the destination of the 2024 Europe’s Strongest Man
title with Cambi, Šmaukstelis, Stoltman, Fojtů and Novikov all in with a good shout of winning.
Shane Flowers posted a superb 18.53 seconds to beat Pa O’Dwyer and give the remaining
competitors something to chase.

In heat 4, Pavlo Kordiyaka’s 5 in 27.52 seconds was comfortably good enough to beat Cambi, whose
10 th place 4 in 32.78 saw him effectively ending any challenge to the podium places. In the
penultimate pairing there was a lengthy delay as the referees attempted to determine whether
Stoltman or Šmaukstelis had removed their hands first from the fifth stone. It was impossible to
separate them and so a tie was awarded, placing them both equal 2 nd with Novikov and Fojtů still to

Both men started well, but as Ondřej started to slow, Novikov moved ahead as they complete the 4 th
stone. Although he wouldn’t have known it at the time, having loaded the 4 th stone in 21.07 seconds,
Oleksii had already handed victory to Stoltman. As he stooped to try a quick pick up of the final
180kg orb, the Ukrainian winced in pain, clutching his biceps. Not only had a second ESM title eluded
him, but with only a few weeks until World’s, it looks likely that Novikov will now be unable to

Event 5: The Castle Water Stone

Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Shane Flowers (GBR) 5 in 18.53 sec 12 36.5
=2 Aivars Šmaukstelis (LAT) 5 in 18.58 sec 10.5 43
=2 Luke Stoltman (GBR) 5 in 18.58 sec 10.5 44
4 Rauno Heinla (EST) 5 in 24.60 sec 9 33
5 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 5 in 27.04 sec 8 33
6 Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR) 5 in 27.52 sec 7 33
7 Gavin Bilton (GBR) 5 in 39.53 sec 6 21.5
8 Oleksii Novikov (UKR) 4 in 21.07 sec 5 40
9 Ondřej Fojtů (CZE) 4 in 21.32 sec 4 38
10 Nicolas Cambi (ITA) 4 in 32.78 sec 3 35
11 Fredrik Johansson (SWE) Withdrew 0 17
12 Konstantine Janashia (GEO) Withdrew 0 10

Overall Standings
Within a few moments the scorers had tallied up the points and Stoltman knew he had done
enough. As he sank into a squat with his hands over his face, the crowd too realised he had
won and moments later, as Neil Pickup officially announced it, the arena erupted in
appreciation of one of Britain’s greatest strongmen. Luke now joins a select group of multiple
winners, and his victory will give him a huge boost as he and his brother prepare for World’s
Strongest Man next month.

Overall Standings
Place Name Overall Points
1 Luke Stoltman (SCO) 44
2 Aivars Šmaukstelis (LAT) 43
3 Oleksii Novikov (UKR) 40
4 Ondřej Fojtů (CZE) 38
5 Shane Flowers (GBR) 37
6 Nicolas Cambi (ITA) 34.5
=7 Rauno Heinla (EST) 34
=7 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 25.5
=7 Pavlo Kordiyaka (UKR) 25
10 Gavin Bilton (GBR) 19.5
11 Fredrik Johansson (SWE) 10
12 Konstantine Janashia (GEO) 2.5

For anyone who missed the show, the contest will still be available to stream through