The 2022 strongman season was filled with breakout performances fueled by drama, surprise, and excitement. And there are many moments worth looking back on, such as Martins Licis‘ winning the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC), the retirement of strongman great JF Caron after a devastating injury, competitive strongwomen getting their time in the limelight, and much more.
Three strongman and two strongwoman athletes also had competitive 2022 seasons worth a deeper look: Oleksii Novikov, Tom Stoltman, Mitchell Hooper, Gabi Dixson, and Victoria Long. This mix of veteran talent and young upstarts put on a show all year, and we’re breaking them down below.
[Related: Hafthor Björnsson (+140KG) Wins 2022 Thor’s Powerlifting Meet Via a 970-Kilogram (2,138.5-Pound) Total]
On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, igniting a war that still rages at the time of this article’s publication. Ukrainian men aged 18-60 could no longer legally leave the country and, in many cases, were drafted to fight in the Ukrainian military against Russian forces.
Ukrainian strongman Oleskii Novikov endured an emotional year, as he competed with a heavy heart while his homeland was under siege. For elite strongman events, Novikov was allowed to leave the country, and he pledged to donate his winnings in several contests to the Ukrainian military for supplies. (He also shared footage of himself undergoing Ukrainian military training.)
Despite the ongoing war, Novikov competed in eight premier strongman contests in 2022. He won three of them and only missed the podium once — a fourth-place finish at the 2022 Shaw Classic. Here are his results from 2022:
Oleksii Novikov 2022 Strongman Results
- 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic — Second Place
- 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man — First Place
- 2022 World’s Strongest Man — Third Place
- 2022 Giants Live Strongman Classic — First Place
- 2022 Giants Live World Open — Third Place
- 2022 Shaw Classic — Fourth Place
- 2022 Arnold Strongman UK — Second Place
- 2022 Rogue Strongman Invitational — First Place
In addition to his remarkable string of podium finishes in 2022, Novikov also rewrote the record books on several occasions. At the 2022 WSM contest, where he was contesting for the overall win in the final event against Tom Stoltman, Novikov scored a new Flintstone Barbell world record of 246 kilograms (542 pounds). He was the lone athlete to attempt that weight, and his successful lift won him the event — one of the three events he won at the 2022 WSM Final.
Novikov also scored a new Hummer Tire Deadlift world record at the 2022 Shaw Classic. His 549-kilogram (1,210-pound) pull exceeded the previous record held by the recently retired J.F. Caron by eight pounds.
Novikov’s performance at the 2022 WSM contest was the highlight of the event, given the circumstances under which he was competing. His only blunder was on the Power Stairs event, where he finished seventh due to his struggle with the implements’ size and the stairs’ height. Novikov ultimately took third overall after tying on points with Licis after he effectively conceded the Atlas Stones when Tom Stoltman posted the fastest time.
Although Novikov took home a bronze medal, the reality is he was on the cusp of becoming a two-time WSM champion, and it was only the consistency of Stoltman that fended off his titanic effort.
Olga Liashchuk of Ukraine has been among the top strongwomen in the world for the better part of a decade. She’s finished on the podium of nearly every contest she’s entered since making her competitive debut at the 2016 Arnold Amateur Strongwoman World Championships, where she claimed the bronze.
According to Strongman Archives, of her 13 sanctioned strongwoman contests, Liashchuk has four wins and only missed the podium twice. In 2022, she competed four times and scored the most significant win of her career: the 2022 World’s Strongest Woman (WSW) title. Here are her results from 2022:
2022 Strongwoman Season Results — Olga Liashchuk
- 2022 America’s Strongest Woman — Second Place
- 2022 World’s Strongest Woman — First Place
- 2022 Shaw Classic Open — Second Place
- 2022 Arnold Pro Strongwoman — Fourth Place
Liashchuk won three of the seven events at the 2022 WSW contest, edging out 2018 WSW Andrea Thompson by four points overall. The critical moment of the competition was Liashchuk capitalizing on Thompson’s last-place finish in the Sandbag to Shoulder event. Liashchuk won that event, converting all four implements in 40.61 seconds to Thompson’s two implements in 23.44 seconds.
Mitchell Hooper went from a seemingly unknown in the competitive strongman world to one of the top strongmen on the planet in six months in 2022. The Canadian appeared on the scene as a mystery at the 2022 WSM contest and put on a show that will be remembered as one of the greatest international contest debuts in recent memory.
He dominated his WSM qualifying group, which included Brian Shaw, Bobby Thompson, Gabriel Peña, Mark Felix, and Konstantine Janashia, in a way that threw everyone’s 2022 WSM predictions, including BarBend‘s, into a tailspin.
[Related: Žydrūnas Savickas Wins Masters 40+ World’s Strongest Man Title at the 2022 Official Strongman Games]
Experience ultimately played a factor in his eventual eighth-place finish at the 2022 WSM. Had he ever attempted a vehicle pull in his life before the Bus Pull event, he may have had a better idea of how to actually do it. That shockwave of a debut was only the start for Hooper, as he found himself on the pro circuit immediately afterward.
Here are Hooper’s astonishing rookie season results:
2022 Strongman Season Results — Mitchell Hooper
- 2022 World’s Strongest Man — Eighth Place
- 2022 Giants Live Strongman Classic — Second Place
- 2022 Giants Live World Open — Second Place
- 2022 Shaw Classic — Third Place
- 2022 Arnold Strongman UK — First Place
- 2022 Giants Live World Tour Finals — First Place
- 2022 Rogue Strongman Invitational — Third Place
Aside from his competitive debut, Hooper did not miss a single podium across his seven other shows in 2022. He finished on the podium in 87.5 percent of the competitions he entered and set a Dinnie Stone world record at the 2022 Rogue Record Breakers along the way.
Additionally, Hooper built a YouTube channel — 13,100 subscribers at the time of this article’s publication — where he releases content regularly on his training, his insight on the sport, and tips for others to improve their game.
If not for Novikov’s unbelievable season under unbelievable circumstances, 2022 would have been the year of “The Moose.” Come 2023, Hooper should be a considerable favorite for every contest he’s in.
While many strongmen and strongwomen throughout 2022 had stellar seasons, no one had a season as dominant as Victoria Long. Her three-contest season saw her go three for three in victories and 12 of 16 in event wins.
No other strongman or strongwoman’s event win rate with at least 16 events is close to touching Long’s 87.5-percent clip. Oh, and she was the runner-up in the four events she didn’t win. Here were her results:
2022 Strongwoman Season Results — Victoria Long
- 2022 Arnold Pro Strongwoman (APS) — First Place
- 2022 Shaw Classic Open — First Place
- 2022 America’s Strongest Woman (ASW) — First Place
In the 2022 APS, Long won a third of the six events and claimed silver in the other four. After that, she did not lose an event at a premier contest for the rest of the season — a clean 10 for 10 in event wins across the 2022 Shaw Classic Open and 2022 ASW.
Long might have flown under the radar in terms of coverage, but given the traction that strongwomen garnered as a division in 2022, 2023 is likely going to be a different story. We’ll see how long Long can continue her event win streak since, at the time of this article’s publication, it is the longest one in the sport.
Few athletes are as consistently strong as strongwoman and powerlifter Rhianon Lovelace. She is a human highlight reel of record-breaking feats. If you’re a fan of strength, then there’s little doubt that the almighty social media algorithm has force-fed you clip after clip of the two-time U64-kilogram World’s Strongest Woman winner (2018, 2022).
Before highlighting Lovelace’s 2022, let’s take a moment to reflect on this ludicrous headline from October 2021: Rhianon Lovelace Moved Up Three Weight Classes and Won the 2021 Arnold Strongman Log & Deadlift Championships UK. After jumping up to the Open class — which means there’s no weight restriction — Lovelace won the events outright by pressing a 154-pound log 11 times and deadlifting 397 pounds 13 times.
Fast forward to 2022, and Lovelace fully displayed her one-rep-max strength.
In May, she set a lightweight axle bar deadlift world record of 233.5 kilograms (515 pounds). One week later, she entered the British Powerlifting Union (BPU) Single Lift British Championships in Manchester, England — and, weighing in around 64 kilos, pulled 241 kilograms (530 pounds), which is more than the British deadlift record in any weight class. Cool. Not done yet.
Lovelace’s deadlift love affair continued to June when she pulled more than the all-time deadlift record of 280 kilograms (or 617 pounds). Because the lift didn’t occur in a competition, the record wasn’t official — but that’s quite alright because Lovelace owns that, too.
Featured image: @novikov_strong_wsm on Instagram