On Sept. 4, 2021, some of the best in the business competed at the 2021 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) competition in Leeds, England. Prior to the commencement of the event, 2021 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Tom Stoltman was considered a favorite to win. However, he tested positive for COVID-19 days before the competition. With Tom staying in Scotland, older brother Luke Stoltman went on to emerge as the champion.
2020 World’s Strongest Man Oleksii Novikov finished as the runner-up, and Graham Hicks took the final spot on the podium. Stoltman and Hicks are now qualified for the 2022 WSM contest alongside Novikov, who was already eligible.
View this post on Instagram
The final placings for all competitors as well as an event-by-event breakdown can be found below.
2021 Europe’s Strongest Man Results
- Luke Stoltman (GBR) — 40.5 points
- Oleksii Novikov (UKR) — 39 points
- Graham Hicks (GBR) — 30.5 points
- Rauno Heinla (EST) — 30 points
- Marius Lalas (LTU) — 28 points (T-5)
- Pa O’Dwyer (IRL) — 28 points (T-5)
- Ervin Toots (EST) — 20 points
- Gavin Bilton (GBR) — 12 points
- Johnny Hanson (SWE) — 11 points
- Adam Bishop (GBR) — 1 point
Note: Lalas and O’Dwyer ultimately tied for fifth position, with 28 points each.
Max Log Lift / 2021 World Log Lift Championships
The first event of the 2021 ESM doubled as the annual World Log Lift Championships. Cheick “Iron Biby” Sanou, the current record holder in the Axle Press with 217 kilograms (478.4 pounds), was slated to compete as a guest, but did not attend due to a family emergency.
With Biby unavailable, it was unlikely that any competitor could threaten the longstanding record of 228 kilograms (502.6 pounds) held by Žydrūnas Savickas since 2005.
Stoltman went into the Log Press as the favorite, but finished tied for first place with Hicks — both men lifted 195 kilograms (429.9 pounds). Novikov had the next best lift of 180 kilograms (396.8 pounds). With all the other competitors failing to lift the opening weight of 180 kilograms, Stoltman, Hicks, and Novikov were the only ones to score points.
- Luke Stoltman — 195 kilograms (429.9 pounds)
- Graham Hicks — 195 kilograms (429.9 pounds)
- Oleksii Novikov — 180 kilograms (396.8 pounds)
Marius Lalas of Lithuania surprised the field by carrying the 200-kilogram (440.9 pound) shield 54.2 meters to take the win. Stoltman came in second with a distance of 42.2 meters. Coming in third was Ervin Toots with a marl of 37.7 meters.
- Marius Lalas — 54.2 meters
- Luke Stoltman — 42.2 meters
- Ervin Toots — 37.7 meters
- Rauno Heinla — 37.05 meters
- Pa O’Dwyer — 34.85 meters
- Gavin Bolton — 32.1 meters
- Oleksii Novikov — 27.85 meters
- Graham Hicks — 27.4 meters
- Johnny Hanson — 22.3 meters
- Adam Bishop — 7.45 meters
The athletes were tasked to lift 360 kilograms (793.7 pounds) in the Axle deadlift for the most reps. Heinla, an exceptional puller, placed first by completing nine reps. Hicks finished second with eight reps, and Lalas, Novikov, and Pa O’Dwyer all tied for third place.
Adam Bishop, also known for his exceptional deadlift, withdrew from the competition before this event due to an undisclosed injury.
- Rauno Heinla — 9 reps
- Graham Hicks — 8 reps
- Marius Lalas — 6 reps
- Oleksii Novikov — 6 reps
- Pa O’Dwyer — 6 reps
- Gavin Bilton — 5 reps
- Luke Stoltman — 3 reps
- Ervin Toots — 2 reps
- Johnny Hansson — 0 reps
A strongman tradition in Europe, the competitors raced down the 20 meter course while carrying a 450 kilogram (992 pound) Volkswagen Beetle frame. Novikov was quick as a cat in this event, and managed to take first with a time of 11.18 seconds.
Stoltman came in second overall with a time of 13.59 seconds. O’Dwyer timed in at just over 16 seconds for third place.
- Oleksii Novikov — 11.19 seconds
- Luke Stoltman — 13.59 seconds
- Pa O’Dwyer — 16.07 seconds
- Marius Lalas — 16.79 seconds
- Johnny Hansson — 20.6 seconds
- Rauno Heinla — 22.84 seconds
- Ervin Toots — 24.91 seconds
- Graham Hicks — 25.76 seconds
- Gavin Bilton — 7.73 meters*
Note: Bilton did not manage to cross the 20-meter line, so his result is measured in final distance.
The final event came down to the top three of Stoltman, Novikov, and Hicks. Novikov did his part, winning the Atlas Stone challenge by completing all five stones in 18.74 seconds. However, Stoltman came in second with a time of 20.58 seconds — enough to maintain his overall lead and ultimately secure the title. Third place went to Heinla, who finished in 21.2 seconds.
By this point in the contest, Gavin Bilton had withdrawn as well.
- Oleksii Novikov — 6 in 18.74 seconds
- Luke Stoltman — 5 in 20.58 seconds
- Rauno Heinla — 5 in 21.2 seconds
- Pa O’Dwyer — 5 in 22.23 seconds
- Graham Hicks — 5 in 22.42 seconds
- Ervin Toots — 5 in 23.5 seconds
- Marius Lalas — 5 in 24.76 seconds
- Johnny Hansson — 5 in 48.01 seconds
On to 2022
Luke Stoltman earned both his first international title win and national pride for Scotland with his victory. To narrowly defeat former WSM Novikov speaks to his bright future in international competition. With most of the major strongman events of the year wrapped up, Stoltman will have time to sharpen his skills as he looks towards the competitive docket in 2022.
Featured Image: @giantslivewsm on Instagram by Zoie Carter-Ingham