• 29 January, 2024

Tom Stoltman Storms to a Third Britain’s Strongest Man Title

The Albatross cemented his position as Britain’s greatest ever strongman with a commanding victory at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena. The crowd of 8,000 fans were treated to a stunning display from the two-time World’s Strongest Man, who was simply a class apart from his competitors. Joined on the podium by his big brother Luke, the Scottish siblings were split by the Welsh Bull, Gavin Bilton, who claimed his second runner-up finish in successive years.

Despite a tremendous win in the evening’s opener – the Deadlift for Reps – defending champion, Adam Bishop, couldn’t seem to find his rhythm. For the former double champion, it was a case of what might have been; unable to complete a crucial 3rd rep in the Axle Press, he began to lose ground. A superb run in the Sandbag Throw failed to revive his podium chances and after struggling in the Castle Stones, he eventually dropped to 6th overall.

Shane Flowers replicated his 4th place finish from 2022, shattering his own Sandbag Throw world record in the process. It was yet another highly consistent display from the Englishman, who was comfortably ahead of Kane Francis in 5th place, but unable to bridge the gap to The Highland Oak in 3rd.

Gavin Bilton produced a trio of top three finishes in the first four events to stay within 3.5 points of the leader going into the Castle Stones. Bilton continues to show great improvement each season and at present appears to have few weaknesses. Defeating Luke in this contest was a significant scalp for the former rugby player, but in Tom Stoltman, he was faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

The Invergordon man seemed unruffled by Bishop’s win in the Deadlift and cruised to victory in both the Axle Press and the Blacksmith’s Medley. His 4th place in the Sandbag Throw could well have been better had he not mistakenly believed his penultimate bag had failed to clear the 15-foot bar. Such is his superiority in the stones, few would have given Bilton a chance, and Tom delivered victory in his customary fashion, with a resounding win.

Losing his World title to Mitchell Hooper seems to have ignited a fire in Stoltman and it will be fascinating to see the pair rejoin their rivalry this season. Tom’s magnificent win underlines the tremendous form he is in and when he returns to Myrtle Beach on May 1st there’s every chance of him adding a third World’s Strongest Man title to his growing list of accolades.

Event 1: IVECO Deadlift for Reps

Bishop and Tom Stoltman were in a league of their own, and as the final pairing, knew exactly what they had to do to take the win. Going rep for rep they both maxed out on five a-piece at 400kg, but it was Bishop who had slightly more in the tank and was able to squeeze out a single repetition on the 360kg bar. Try as he might, Tom couldn’t muster the energy and had to settle for second.

The new format for this event produced some exciting contests and in the previous heat, Shane Flowers and Gavin Bilton had a similar battle. Both men completed three reps at the 400kg weight, but it was the Welshman who edged it with one at 360kg.

Fast approaching his 58th birthday, Mark Felix was the only man to fail at 400kg. It‘s testament to how far Strongman has come in the last few years that an incredible eleven men were able to deadlift 400kg in a domestic competition, with seven of them achieving multiple reps!

Event 1: Deadlift for Reps
Place Name Result Points
400kg 360kg
1 Adam Bishop (ENG) 5 reps 1 rep 12
2 Tom Stoltman (SCO) 5 reps / 11
3 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 3 reps 1 rep 10
4 Shane Flowers (ENG) 3 reps / 9
=5 Luke Stoltman (SCO) 2 reps 2 reps 7.5
=5 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 2 reps 2 reps 7.5
7 Kane Francis (ENG) 2 reps 1 rep 6
=8 Paddy Haynes (ENG) 1 rep 1 rep 4.5
=8 Sean Gillen (IRE) 1 rep 1 rep 4.5
10 Conor Curran (SCO) 1 rep / 2.5
11 Paul Smith (ENG) 1 rep / 2.5
12 Mark Felix (ENG) / 2 reps 1


Event 2: SBD Axle Press for Reps

Being 10kg heaver than was used in previous competitions, these axles were always going to prove extremely demanding, especially after the athletes’ exertions in the Deadlift for Reps. England’s Paul Smith set the early pace, lifting on his own in the first heat, and completing three reps. Luke Stoltman was the first man to hit four, which Gavin Bilton equalled in the penultimate pairing.

Once again, it was Bishop and Tom Stoltman who came out last and both men blasted through their first two reps. Bishop, who had sustained a triceps rupture last season, looked as strong as ever overhead, but missed his third lockout and could not regain his composure. Stoltman, meanwhile, looked well within himself as he eased to four reps and then calmly completed a fifth to take the win and the overall lead.

Event 2: Axle Press for Reps
Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Tom Stoltman (SCO) 5 reps 12 23
2 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 4 reps 10.5 20.5
3 Luke Stoltman (SCO) 4 reps 10.5 18
4 Paul Smith (ENG) 3 reps 9 11.5
=5 Adam Bishop (ENG) 2 reps 6.5 18.5
=5 Shane Flowers (ENG) 2 reps 6.5 15.5
=5 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 2 reps 6.5 14
=5 Sean Gillen (IRE) 2 reps 6.5 11
9 Kane Francis (ENG) 1 rep 4 10
=10 Paddy Haynes (ENG) 0 reps 0 4.5
=10 Conor Curran (SCO) 0 reps 0 2.5
12 Mark Felix (ENG) / 0 1



Event 3: BoohooMAN Blacksmith’s Medley

In a brand-new event for Giants Live, the athletes raced in pairs, completing a carrying medley of anchor and anvil before arm-over-arm hoisting a 130kg anchor high above the arena floor. Kane Francis produced a rapid 28.01 second run to beat Paddy Haynes in the second heat and his time held sway until the 5th pairing, when Luke Stoltman edged into the lead.

There was nothing to separate Bilton and Tom Stoltman in the final heat, as they dropped their anvils and prepared to hoist. It was Tom who was quicker to make his first pull on the rope and he stayed just ahead of Gavin as they completed their pulls. Tom’s finishing time was just 0.05 seconds quicker than his brother’s, affording him a more comfortable lead over the Welshman.

Defending champion, Adam Bishop, looked tired as he moved through the carries and seemed to struggle on the rope pull. His finishing place of 9th effectively put paid to his chances of making the podium.  

Event 3: Blacksmith’s Medley
Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Tom Stoltman (SCO) 27.72 sec 12 35
2 Luke Stoltman (SCO) 27.77 sec 11 29
3 Kane Francis (ENG) 28.01 sec 10 20
4 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 28.55 sec 9 29.5
5 Shane Flowers (ENG) 28.59 sec 8 23.5
6 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 29.26 sec 7 21
7 Paul Smith (ENG) 30.61 sec 6 17.5
8 Sean Gillen (IRE) 30.88 sec 5 16
9 Adam Bishop (ENG) 31.68 sec 4 22.5
10 Mark Felix (ENG) 34.53 sec 3 4
11 Paddy Haynes (ENG) 36.08 sec 2 6.5
12 Conor Curran (SCO) / 0 2.5


Event 4: MIRAFIT Sandbag Throw

The old world record, established by Shane Flowers at the 2022 Britain’s Strongest Man contest, was bettered four times in this event. Adam Bishop ripped through the six bags of ascending weight in just 15.94 seconds – nearly 3 seconds quicker than Flowers’ previous 18.38 second effort.

Shane hit back with a scintillating 13.65 second run to win back his record and take the lead. With four men left to go, it seemed possible that Flowers’ new record would be short-lived, but neither Bilton, Francis or the Stoltman brothers could match his time.

In the event, both Gavin and Tom produced times that eclipsed the previous record. Bilton’s 14.86 second effort was good enough for 2nd, whilst Tom’s 17.63 second run saw him give up a couple of points to The Bull, meaning he would have much less breathing space going into the Stones.

Event 4: Sandbag Throw
Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Shane Flowers (ENG) 6 in 13.65 sec 12 35.5
2 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 6 in 14.86 sec 11 40.5
3 Adam Bishop (ENG) 6 in 15.94 sec 10 32.5
4 Tom Stoltman (SCO) 6 in 17.63 sec 9 44
5 Kane Francis (ENG) 5 in 16.63 sec 8 28
6 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 5 in 20.73 sec 7 28
7 Luke Stoltman (SCO) 5 in 23.90 sec 6 35
8 Paul Smith (ENG) 4 in 12.18 sec 5 22.5
9 Sean Gillen (IRE) 4 in 21.68 sec 4 20
10 Paddy Haynes (ENG) 4 in 26.20 sec 3 9.5
11 Mark Felix (ENG) 4 in 57.70 sec 2 6
12 Conor Curran (SCO) / 0 2.5



Event 5: The Castle Water Stones

Although virtually unbeatable in the Stones, Tom Stoltman is by no means infallible, as was witnessed in 2021 when his slip-up cost him the World Tour Finals trophy. However, he has not lost a stone run since, and as the accumulated tiredness caused by the evening’s gruelling events took its toll on most of the athletes’ runs, The Albatross made no such mistakes as he moved confidently towards the event win and overall triumph.

Only four men completed the event, with Paddy Haynes taking third – by far his best performance of the night. Kane Francis proved his mettle with a 32.38 second completed run, but it was the Stoltman brothers who took top honours with a one-two finish. Tom’s run was nearly 3-seconds quicker than his closest competitor’s and if he was feeling the pace of a hugely demanding set of events, he wasn’t letting it show.

Event 5: Castle Stones
Place Name Result Points Overall Points
1 Tom Stoltman (SCO) 5 in 23.70 sec 12 56
2 Luke Stoltman (SCO) 5 in 26.49 sec 11 46
3 Paddy Haynes (ENG) 5 in 30.39 sec 10 19.5
4 Kane Francis (ENG) 5 in 32.38 sec 9 37
5 Shane Flowers (ENG) 4 in 21.23 sec 8 43.5
6 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 4 in 21.57 sec 7 47.5
7 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 4 in 22.89 sec 6 34
8 Sean Gillen (IRE) 4 in 25.09 sec 5 25
9 Mark Felix (ENG) 4 in 25.22 sec 4 10
10 Paul Smith (ENG) 4 in 30.86 sec 3 25.5
11 Adam Bishop (ENG) 4 in 33.81 sec 2 34.5
12 Conor Curran (SCO) / 0 2.5


Overall Standings

In the end, Tom’s margin of victory was significant, though he would certainly have been feeling the pressure, knowing that with a lead of just 3.5 points he could afford no errors in the Stones. Winning his third British title, only Eddie Hall and Jamie Reeves have ever won more.

At the other end of the leader board, Conor Curran had been forced to retire injured after the axle press and had to be content with 12th. Mark Felix announced that this would be his final appearance at Britain’s Strongest Man. The crowd gave him the ovation of the night following his stone run.

Overall Standings
Place Name Overall Points
1 Tom Stoltman (SCO) 56
2 Gavin Bilton (WAL) 47.5
3 Luke Stoltman (SCO) 46
4 Shane Flowers (ENG) 43.5
5 Kane Francis (ENG) 37
6 Adam Bishop (ENG) 34.5
7 Pa O’Dwyer (IRE) 34
8 Paul Smith (ENG) 25.5
9 Sean Gillen (IRE) 25
10 Paddy Haynes (ENG) 19.5
11 Mark Felix (ENG) 10
12 Conor Curran (GBR) 2.5

A winning margin of 8.5-points was more than enough to secure Tom his fourth Giants Live title and it looks certain he’ll win many more. Bilton bagged his third Giants podium, as well as his ticket to Myrtle Beach and World’s Strongest Man. Seeing Luke Stoltman back on the podium signalled a welcome return to form for the 2021 Europe’s Strongest Man. His place in South Carolina is also assured.

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