World’s Strongest Nation PREVIEW!
USA or UK: Which is the World’s Strongest Nation?
USA or UK: Which is the World’s Strongest Nation?
Since declaring their independence from the yoke of British colonial rule on July 4th, 1776, a healthy rivalry has existed between the United States and their transatlantic cousins. In recent years both nations have enjoyed a “special relationship”, but whilst Britain’s global influence has been in decline, the USA has risen to become a global superpower.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the sporting stage, with the Stars and Stripes reigning supreme at the Olympic Games, and over the last forty-five years, at World’s Strongest Man, where the Americans have won more titles that any other nation. However, since 2017, Blighty has been resurgent, with first Eddie Hall, then Tom Stoltman taking three world titles.
Britain’s women have faired even better, taking five World’s Strongest Woman championships to America’s three, since 1997. Britain, it seems, has risen up to challenge the American upstarts. But in the absence of a team-based contest comprised of both men and women, the question of which of these great nations is truly the strongest remains unanswered.
Not anymore! On 26th of November, Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena will host the finale to the 2022 Giants Live World’s Strongest Man Arena Tour, with the inaugural World’s Strongest Nation contest. Two mixed teams of eight, captained by Eddie “The Beast” Hall and Martins “The Dragon” Licis, will battle it out over eight gruelling tests of strength to decide, once and for all, who can lay claim to the title of World’s Strongest Nation!
With six world titles between them, the British Bulldogs are a force to be reckoned with. Eddie Hall leads a team of vast experience and talent, including current world champions and world record holders. Here are the eight members of the British team who aim to take the inaugural World Strongest Nation title:
Not having competed since 2018, Eddie “The Beast” Hall’s fitness will be a subject of much speculation. The first man to deadlift 500kg and the 2017 World’s Strongest Man winner, he is arguably the strongest man Britain has ever produced. His task will be to show not just brawn, but brains too, as he matches his teams’ talents to the eight tasks laying before him and his Bulldogs.
A three-time winner of the World’s Strongest Woman title, DonDon, as her coach calls her, 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 is a huge asset to the Bulldogs and surely an athlete who will make a massive impact on the night.
The Welsh Wonderwoman is the 2021 World’s Strongest Woman and multiple world record holder in a variety of strength and grip disciplines. She is one of many strength athletes to have crossed over from a rugby background to find success in strongman. A 3-time Wales’s Strongest Woman and former Europe’s Strongest Woman, Rebecca is the tallest woman in the contest, an attribute that may stand her in good stead in the Power Stairs. Her mighty grip may also see her put forward for the Hercules Hold by captain Eddie Hall.
The 2018 World’s Strongest Woman and runner-up this year, Andrea will be an ace in the sleeve to her team captain as the evening’s events unfold. Renowned for her overhead lifting, Thompson will almost certainly take part in the Log Press since she is the current world record holder with 140kg. A 4-time Britain’s Strongest Woman winner, Andrea is also a former record holder in the deadlift, so could perhaps be called into action in that event too.
“The Welsh Bull,” at 6 foot, 6 inches and around 200kg will be the largest competitor in the show and is always a crowd favourite. In his last Giants Live outing he raised the Welsh deadlift record to 425.5kg and was just a whisker away from joining the elite group of men to have lifted 1,000lb.
A former soldier and professional rugby player, Bilton has his sights set firmly on achieving his long-term goal of World’s Strongest Man success. In this type of contest, he will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the Tug-of-War, where sheer mass is an asset not to be underestimated.
Having only recently recovered from a serious triceps injury sustained in a training accident, Bish’s form will be hard to gauge. A former professional rugby winger and 2020 Britain’s Strongest Man winner, Adam is renowned for his speed and technical proficiency, particularly in the deadlift where he has a best of 1,000lb and is considered to be one of the best-ever exponents of deadlifting for maximum repetitions.
The Miracle Man, Mark Felix will potentially have two opportunities to put his vice-like grip into action, with Farmer’s Carry and Hercules Hold kicking off the night’s action. Felix has bettered his own Hercules Hold world record on many occasions and will be keen, after a couple of disappointing showings, to add to his current best time of 1:32.37 seconds.
After a couple of seasons in the wilderness, battling a persistent groin injury, Hicksy has returned to action stronger than ever, having recently joined the 1,000lb deadlift club, with his 453.5kg pull at the World Deadlift Championships in Cardiff. However, it is in the Log Press where the Morecambe man may well show his best form. He is building towards an assault on Iron Biby’s 229kg world record and could potentially approach double digits with the 150kg log being used in Liverpool.
Though by comparison with the Bulldogs, this American team is light on world champions and competitive experience, it is nonetheless bristling with talent, youth and raw, brute strength. Handing the Limeys a beating in their own back yard is what this omnipotent octet will be aiming to do. Here are the members of the USA team:
Latvian-born Licis was the 2019 World’s Strongest Man winner and runner-up this year, in Sacramento. Having recovered from some serios injuries caused by a car accident, Licis has returned to his best form, winning the Arnold Strongman Classic in Ohio earlier this year – a feat his rival captain, Eddie Hall has never emulated.
Known as “The Dragon,” Licis is a formidable all-rounder, with absolutely no weaknesses. His combination of awesome power and charisma make him the perfect choice for team captain, and he will no doubt be desperate to lead his adopted nation to victory.
Nicknamed Nez by her coach Gabriel Peña, Carrasquillo has been involved in many sports before finding her way into strongwoman. A former volleyball player, shot putter and powerlifter, Inez was the 2022 Arnold Amateur Strongwoman World Champion and finished 3rd at this year’s World’s Strongest Woman.
She has made a huge impression in the sport in a very short space of time, thanks to her physical stature and tremendous all-round ability – something that will make her a huge asset to the All-American Heroes!
Having twice placed 5th at World’s Strongest Woman, Gabi – or BamBam, as she is sometimes known – is in the very highest tier of women’s strongman. This former discus thrower and rugby player is most at home in the Farmer’s Walk, so look out for her in the opening event. As a national champion powerlifter, she also has a terrific base of static strength to combine with her athleticism.
Nadia is a two-time U82kg World’s Strongest Woman who has achieved some truly remarkable lifts at her relatively light bodyweight. In the recent World’s Strongest Woman contest held as part of the official Strongman Games in Daytona, Florida, Nadia – known as “Storm” swept to a 6-point victory over Ashley Crawford and Britain’s Donna Moore. Her favourite event is the Super Yoke, but she is exceptionally strong overhead, so expect to see her contest the Log Press.
Having just achieved his first podium finish at a Giants Live show, taking third at the World Tour Finals in Glasgow, Faires will be full of confidence coming into Liverpool. Re-taking his world record in the Nicol Stones, Faires proved once again that he has an iron grip and therefore should figure highly in the opening two events: the Farmer’s Carry and Hercules Hold.
Coming off the back of his second-place finish at the Rogue Invitational, and his victory at the Shaw Classic, Trey is very much an in-form man. He is a brilliant deadlifter and may well be called into action in event four – the Axle Deadlift. Best known as a stone lifter, his major strength will not be called upon here, but as a two-time top 6 finisher at WSM, the “Big Tex” is an incredible all-rounder and will undoubtedly make a big impression at some point.
Spenser made his Giants Live debut at the 2022 Strongman Classic, where at The Royal Albert Hall, he finished a creditable 7th. Since then, he has captured the 2022 Official Strongman Games title, defeating South Africa’s Jaco Schoonwinkel, in Daytona Beach, Florida. A very solid Farmer’s competitor, Licis may well use him early on.
“The American Nightmare” will be hoping to make the All-American Heroes’ dreams come true on Saturday night. Renowned for his huge static power, Bobby will be looking to showcase his talents in the Axle Deadlift and Log Press events, especially since he is the current American record holder with 217.5kg in the log lift. A 2021 World’s Strongest Man finalist, Thompson also goes by the moniker “Beautiful Bobby Thompson!”
As a team competition the format for this contest will be somewhat different from a normal Giants Live competition. Each event will be held as a win or loose team showdown with the winning nation taking three points. A bonus point will be awarded to the country that produces the best individual performance in each of the first seven events.
The total points amassed by each nation will then be converted into seconds for event eight, the contest’s finale. Akin to the Gladiators tv show, the leading team will take a time-advantage into the final, gruelling team relay event, with the side that completes it first taking home the World’s Strongest Nation trophy.
With every athlete except the captains going in this event, it should be a highly exciting and revealing contest opener. Each team member must carry the Farmer’s Walk logs 40m, there and back over the 20m course, before tagging in their teammates. The men’s implements weigh 140kg per hand, whilst the women’s are 100kg each. If any athlete cannot complete the required 40m, another team member may finish it for them, before moving on to their own leg of this relay.
The winning team will be the one that completes all seven carries fastest but predicting a winner in this event is no easy task. Both teams have some incredible performers in this type of event, which will provide a tough test of the athletes’ grips. Andrea Thompson won this event at the recent World’s Strongest Woman contest carrying slightly heavier 122.5kg implements 30m in just 17.25 seconds. America’s Kevin Faires is regarded as one of the world’s best in this discipline, on the men’s side, but with the relay format each team may only be as good as its weakest member.
Holding the world record with an astonishing 1:32.37 seconds, Britain’s Mark Felix will be a certainty to represent the Bulldogs in holding these 250kg pillars from the ground. The captains must select two men and women from their respective teams and the squad with the longest accumulated “team time” will take the 3-points.
Donna Moore is reported to have held on for 40-seconds in practice, so will be one to keep an eye on here. Success in this event will once again be dependent on consistency across the 4-man squad. This is an event that often throws up some surprise performances, so don’t expect the British team to have it all their own way!
The team captains will need to select two men and two women whose times will be added together. The team with the longest total time will earn three valuable points, with a further point awarded to the competitor who produces the best performance of the event.
Eddie Hall has the luxury of having the men’s and women’s world record holders for this event within his team. At the 2018 Britain’s Strongest Man contest he held the 30kg hammer at arms’ length for 1:06.66 seconds to establish a record that still stands.
Rebecca Roberts, the 2021 World’s Strongest Woman winner, also holds the women’s world record, which she set at the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic, Rogue Record Breakers event, holding the 20kg hammer for 39.09 seconds.
This axle deadlift contest will be for maximum repetitions, rather than max weight. With a 60-second time limit, the men will be handling 360kg axles, whilst the women’s will be 220kg. The All-American heroes will be full of confidence with Martins Licis holding the men’s world record of eight reps with this particular apparatus. Britain’s Adam Bishop is rarely beaten in this type of discipline, but whether he has fully recovered from his injury remains to be seen.
The two men’s total repetitions will be added to the women’s score to give a total combined rep count. The USA’s Gabi Dixson finished ahead of any of her competitors competing at Liverpool at the recent World’s Strongest Woman competition, achieving 11-reps with a 218kg axle. Just a single lift behind her was Andrea Thompson – a woman renowned for her deadlifting and a former world record holder.
The transatlantic rivals will have 60-seconds to press these 150kg (for the men) and 100kg (for the ladies) logs overhead as many times as their lungs and triceps can tolerate. The most any male athlete has achieved is 9 reps, within the time, and each team must put forward two men and two women, with the best overall total taking the victory.
The Bulldogs’ Andrea Thompson is the current world record holder in this event with 140kg, so for her this will be child’s play. The Heroes’ Inez Carrasquillo though, has recorded a 142kg training lift and will be out to de-throne Thompson.
Graham Hicks looks nailed-on to take one of the GB slots as the current British record holder at 220kg, with perhaps Gavin Bilton to partner him. The Americans will most probably field Bobby Thompson, the present US record holder, with Trey Mitchell a likely teammate with his impressive 209kg personal best.
In what will be a re-match of their pairing in the same event at the 2017 World’s Strongest Man finals, team captains Licis and Hall will battle it out in the 150kg Viking Press – a captains only event. The only minor difference this time around being that Eddie Hall has been four years retired, whilst Licis is still at the top of his game.
In 2017 it was 15 reps to Hall, 8 to Licis, in an event that proved to be one of the most controversial in World’s Strongest Man history. An in-shape Eddie Hall is unbeatable in this event and to what extent he has retained or re-gained his former power will be evident as he strives for captains’ honours and 3 priceless team points.
This penultimate event has never featured at a Giants Live show and has its roots in the ancient Scottish Highlands, as well as appearing over the years at World’s Strongest Man. Three separate rounds will be decided by best of three pulls, the first of which will include teams of three female athletes. In the second round the men will get their turn and in round 3 a full mixed team will battle it out in a 7v7 battle royale.
Once the points have been tallied and converted into seconds, the climax of the evening will get under way with the leading nation taking a time advantage into this medley event.
The captains will get the event underway, carrying 125kg anchors across the course. Once that leg has been completed, five weights ranging in mass from 150kg – 250kg, must be carried over to the Power Stairs by both the male and female athletes. Once in situ at the foot of the 1.5m stairs, they must each be carried one stair at a time to the top. The team that gets all five onto the final step first will carry the day and be crowned the World’s Strongest Nation.