• 9 June, 2022

Tom Stoltman Wins his Second World’s Strongest Man Title

The Scottish GIANT wins his 2nd consecutive World's Strongest Man title!

The Albatross made it back-to-back World’s Strongest Man titles for Scotland as he defeated the 2019 champion, Martins Licis and the 2020 champion, Oleksii Novikov in Sacramento, California on May 28th – 29th. Stoltman became only the second British strongman to win multiple titles, along with England’s Geoff Capes, and the first athlete to win consecutive titles since Brian Shaw in 2016.

The giant Scotsman’s win has cemented his status as one the sport’s top champions; only six other men have ever won back-to-back titles. But it was not all plain sailing for the Invergordon Goliath, as despite never being out of the top 3 in any event in the final, he trailed Oleksii Novikov for most of the contest, following the Ukrainian winning three consecutive events.

The Stoltman brothers both featured in the final, for the third time – a feat that no other siblings have achieved. Big brother Luke placed 7th, a position he has now finished in on three separate occasions. Luke had won his qualifying heat with an event to spare after USA’s Evan “T-Rex” Singleton suffered an anaphylactic reaction and was forced to miss the deadlift.

Route to the Final

Tom’s progress to the final was relatively straightforward; he won each of the first four events in his heat (heat 1). For the first time in World’s Strongest Man history, each of the 30 athletes spread over the 5 qualification heats would contest 5 identical events: Loading Race, Deadlift Ladder, Car Walk, Log Lift and Wrecking Ball Hold, with the 2nd and 3rd placed athletes battling it out in the dreaded stone-off.

Stoltman, was so far ahead after four events he needed only to lift the wrecking ball for a single second to win the heat, while his competitors suffered the agonising pain this type of event entails. With Ireland’s Pa O’Dwyer withdrawing due to a shoulder injury, Scotland’s Andy Black stepped-in to make his World’s Strongest Man debut.

Meanwhile, America’s Kevin Faires missed out on a finals spot through a Stone Off for the second year running, although this time he was 4 points clear of 3rd placed rookie, Gabriel Rhéaume. The Canadian provided the upset of the heat by defeating Faires with 6 lifts of the Atlas Stone, to the American’s 5.


The Line-Up

Tom and his older brother Luke were the only two Brits to qualify for the final, with Adam Bishop, Mark Felix, Gavin Bilton, Shane Flowers and Andy Black all succumbing to the highly competitive heats.

The 2022 final featured no less than 4 past champions, including Tom Stoltman, with 4-time winner Brian Shaw (USA), 2019 Champion, Martins Licis (USA) and Ukraine’s 2020 victor, Oleksii Novikov all ready to fight it out for top honours.

Canada was especially well represented, despite the absence of Jean-François Caron, who had badly injured himself at the Arnold Strongman Classic earlier this year. Last year’s third place finisher, Maxime Boudrealt, had come safely through the heats along with first-timers Mitchell Hooper and Gabriel Rhéaume.

Completing the line-up was America’s Trey Mitchell, last year’s 4th place finisher, and Iceland’s Eyþór Ingólfsson Melsted who also made the final in 2021, placing 10th overall.


The Final – Event 1: KNAACK Giant’s Medley

The athletes were faced with two 125kg/276lb boxes which needed to be carried over a 10m course before lifting and walking with a 455kg/1,003lb yoke over the same distance. Mitchell Hooper, a man many would have been surprised to see in the final, stunned the crowd by winning the event in a time of 21.96 seconds, nearly 3 seconds ahead of Tom Stoltman, who narrowly edged Novikov into third. Luke Stoltman’s fourth place was an encouraging start for the Highland Oak.

Brian Shaw’s 6th place was an inauspicious opening for the man seeking to equal Poland’s Mariusz Pudzianowski’s record haul of 5 World’s Strongest Man titles. The Colorado Colossus was just behind his compatriot, Licis, who was the in-form man coming into this contest having won the Arnold Strongman Classic back in March.


Event 2: Car Deadlift

With a weight of 360kg/794lbs in the hand, and a field absolutely stacked with incredible deadlifters, this was always going to need a relatively high number of repetitions to take the win. Hooper, once again, made an excellent showing, amassing an impressive 12 repetitions to place =4th alongside more seasoned veterans, Shaw and Licis.

Trey Mitchell, renowned for his pulling, bettered 12 by a single rep to take =2nd with Tom Stoltman. This was a fantastic result for Tom, who could easily have lost points here in an event where many of his competitors are able to boast much heavier maximum lifts.

Oleksii Novikov was in a league of his own in this event, producing 15 repetitions to take his first event win. This was perhaps no surprise for a man who holds the 18-inch deadlift world record of 537.5kg/1185lb. Equally unsurprisingly, given the current situation in his homeland, Novikov had established himself as a crowd favourite. Despite all the difficulties in preparation he must have faced, the Ukrainian clearly meant business and was here to win.


Event 3: Flintstone Lift

In a return of the traditional Flintstone barbell overhead lift that had last featured in the 1995 World’s Strongest Man final, the competitors fought it out in a rising bar format, with a starting weight of 175kg/386lb. The world record was held by Wales’s Gary Taylor, with a 210kg/462lb winning effort from the 1995 final in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Oleksii Novikov completed back-to-back event wins with a new world record of 246kg/542lb. Tom Stoltman took his third successive 2nd place with 240kg/530lb – an incredible achievement for a man of his height. Licis finished 3rd with 235kg/518lb. These three men were well clear of 4th placed Shaw who managed 212kg/467lb, tying with Boudreault, Mitchell and Luke Stoltman, of whom many might have expected more, given his famous pressing power.


Event 4: Bus Pull

In an event that is usually dominated by larger, heavier men, Oleksii Novikov, the smallest man in the final, produced yet another startling performance in taking his third consecutive event win and making the perfect start to the second day. The Ukrainian pulled the 18,000kg/40,800lb vehicle the full length of the 30m course in 41.51 seconds, less than a second faster than second placed Martins Licis.

Tom Stoltman, already trailing Novikov by 1.5 points, limited the damage with the third best time of the day. His 44.50 seconds was just 2 tenths of a second faster that Shaw, illustrating what fine margins separate the efforts of these athletes.

Trey Mitchell finished up 5th, with 45.72 seconds, comfortably ahead of Luke Stoltman and Maxime Boudreault, who was finding this year’s final much harder going than in 2021, where he was able to place 3rd. The Canadian would go into event 5 in 8th.


Event 5: REIGN Power Stairs

Going into the penultimate event, defending champion, Tom Stoltman, was 3.5 points adrift from Oleksii Novikov who had only dropped 2 points in the first four events, and at this stage was looking unbeatable.

In event 5, the athletes faced 3 implements of 226kg/498lb, which had to be lifted, in turn, up three steps each in a time limit of 75 seconds. With all the athletes having completed at least 10 gruelling events each by this stage, including the heats, this was to prove a step too far for 7 of the 10 finalists.

Only Licis, who placed 3rd, second-placed Tom Stoltman and winner Max Boudreault managed to complete the event. Boudreault, who is well-known for his considerable talent in Power Stairs, produced a winning time of 39.07 seconds, nearly 2 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Stoltman.

Crucially, this event found the first chink in Novikov’s armour. The Ukrainian could muster only 7th place, managing to lift just 6 of the implements to the top of the stairs. His 3.5-point lead was now reduced to a 1.5 point deficit to Tom Stoltman, going into the Albatross’s favourite event, the Atlas Stones.


Final Event: The Atlas Stones

For most onlookers it would have looked as if the result was a forgone conclusion, with Tom Stoltman a point and a half clear of Novikov and 6.5 points ahead of third placed Licis. Stoltman holds several world records in the Atlas Stones, including his 286kg/630lb single stone lift, and is considered all but unbeatable in this event.

However, past competitions have shown us that mistakes are easily made in this event and many potential World’s Strongest Man winners have fallen foul of these treacherous stones. Indeed, Tom himself lost the 2021 Giants Live World Tour Finals, in Glasgow, with an uncharacteristic mistake on the second to last stone.

However, the Invergordon man made no such errors this time in his head-to-head with the Ukrainian. He not only beat Novikov but was able to produce the fastest time of 25.76 seconds, for all 5 of the stones, ranging in weight from 140kg/308lb to 200kg/441lb. It was Tom’s first event win of the contest and cemented his victory with an impressive margin of 9.5 points over Martins Licis, who moved ahead of Novikov, who could only place 10th in the final event. The pair finished equal on points, but Licis placed second by virtue of his superior placing in the Atlas Stones.

The 40-year-old veteran, Brian Shaw, ended up a creditable 4th, with Maxime Boudreault finishing well, rising to 5th position courtesy of a second-place finish in the Stones, following his win in the power Stairs.

The final standings were as follows:

Place Name Nationality Total points
1 Tom Stoltman GBR 53.5
2 Martins Licis USA 43
3 Oleksii Novikov UKR 43
4 Brian Shaw USA 37.5
5 Maxime Boudreault CAN 34.5
6 Trey Mitchell USA 34
7 Luke Stoltman GBR 30.5
8 Mitchell Hooper CAN 30
9 Eyþór Ingólfsson Melsted ISL 13
10 Gabriel Rhéaume CAN 11


“Mr Consistency”

Tom’s victory was a masterclass in consistency; he never placed out of the top three in any event and produced four second-place finishes and a single event win. Despite Novikov’s incredible run of three event victories, he could never shake the Scot off and was punished for his poor showing in the power stairs.

Such a performance illustrates Tom’s comparative lack of weaknesses. It also highlights his ability to perform at his very best on the sports’ biggest stage, a capacity that his competitors and fans may imagine taking him to several more World’s Strongest Man titles in the coming years. Congratulations Tom!