The Philippines will see an influx of super sized men in the coming weeks as the athletes arrive to vie for the title of World’s Strongest Man. Eddie Hall will not be back to defend his title, opting to compete in different contests for 2018. While the reasons may be obscure one thing is for certain; there is no lack of talent at this year’s contest. The three biggest names in the business will be there; Savickas, Shaw, and Bjornsson will receive superstar billing when the preliminaries start April 28th.
The smart money is on Hafthor who looked nearly invincible at the Arnold Strongman just a month ago in March. He had never looked better and showed potential to be one of the all time greats. Big Z is coming off a Masters WSM win this past December and has diligently been working to overcome his injuries (and age). Shaw has not looked his absolute best in his last few performances, but it is impossible to be in peak shape all year round and I assume he has been saving himself for the goal of another World title.
It is never that easy though, and there might be a wrench thrown into the machinery of the favorites and that would be one made of Iron. Iron Biby to be exact. No, not an event but the nickname of a 26 year-old phenom from the small West African country of Burkina Faso. Cheick Ahmed al-Hassan Sanou was born larger than life. Always a big kid, Cheick traveled to Canada as a 17 year old to reunite with his brother and start college. He had dreams of becoming a sprinter or gymnast but found heavy weights were easy for him to lift and he fell in love with strongman training.
This weekend’s log lift world championships will reveal this competitor on the international stage. In training, he has strict pressed 480 pounds and if he can get his hips and weight into the bar we could be looking at one of the best strongman pressers of all time. While finding exact stats on this competitor can be tricky, it is clear he is well over six feet tall and closing in on the 400 pound category for sure. He does boast 25 inch arms and from the footage available, I do not doubt that claim.
First time jitters are hard to overcome at this level, and that is one of the biggest hurdles for the newcomer to face. Being there before has merit all in it’s own and a solid third of field is made up of veterans that have size, strength and massive amounts of experience on their side. Mark Felix is back for the first time in three years and seems just as dangerous at 51 as he did when he turned professional 14 years ago. Giving Big Z a run for his money at Masters Worlds this year was 48 year old Nick Best, who will displace many younger competitors in his heats.
One of the strongest men to never win the title, Vytautas Lalas will also be a treat for everyone in the contest.
No matter what the outcome the 2018 WSM promises to deliver the best Strongman entertainment product when it airs six months later around Christmas. That’s right fans, don’t look for a live stream of the action, though many internet users will follow along with the action by scanning Facebook and other sites for spectator videos and updates. I for one am looking forward to this year’s contest to see just how far Iron can push iron and other competitors in WSM, and if the hype is real!
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Featured image: @shawstrength on Instagram