Ervin Toots and Gabriel Pena Withdraw From 2020 World’s Strongest Man

After one day of competition, these two athlete had to call it quits.

More unexpected drama has unfolded at the 2020 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) competition in Bradenton, FL. Both Ervin Toots of Estonia and Gabriel Pena of Mexico have withdrawn from the competition. Neither strongman competed on the second day of the qualifying stage. Pena was experiencing heart problems while Toots sustained an injury, of which the details are still unknown, during the squat event. 

Ervin Toots

Here were the results Toots posted in the two events from day one of the qualifying stage:

  • Farmer’s Carry — Third place, 18.76 meters
  • Squat — Fifth place, zero reps.

Toots shared minimal information about his injury in a post on his Instagram page. He appeared to hurt himself on day one during the squat event. Athletes had to back squat with 315-kilograms (694.5 pounds) for as many reps as possible in 60 seconds. Toots scored zero reps on the event and shared few details about his injury afterward.

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A post shared by Ervin Toots (@ervin.toots)

[Related: Day One Of 2020 World’s Strongest Man Canceled]

Gabriel Pena

News of Pena’s withdrawal did not come to light until day two of the competition. It turns out that he was hospitalized due to heart issues, which Pena noticed after his deadlift performance. He scored nine points after two events during day one of the competition, which included a second-place finish in the deadlift event. Here were his results:

    • Farmer’s Carry — Fourth Place, 9.89 meters
    • Deadlift — Second place, eight reps

In an Instagram video, Pena talked his fans through exactly why he dropped out of the competition. After competing in the deadlift, Pena noticed that his heart was working harder than it usually does. He checked his own pulse and thought it felt a bit irregular. He visited event medics on Nov.13, 2020, who then directed him to the paramedic team to have Pena take an electrocardiogram. It turns out Pena was experiencing atrial fibrillation, which is when the top chambers of the heart flutter erratically. While a-fib isn’t uncommon, the medics deemed it unsafe for Pena to undergo the rigors of strongman events. Check out the video below. 


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A post shared by Gabriel Peña (@texastitangabe)

“For this being my first World’s Strongest Man appearance, for me being as elated as I am to be here…those words felt like a swift and heavy hammer,” Pena said in his Instagram video, which he recorded from a hospital bed at the Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton, FL. “The doctor is very positive on his outlook, that with just medication alone, my heart rate will bounce back to normal.”

Pena goes on to explain that if his heart rate doesn’t return to normal, he’ll have to stay in the hospital until Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, and undergo surgery so doctors can shock his heart back to a normal rhythm. He also made a point to let fans know that he wasn’t carried into the ambulance. He walked to it himself. 

More 2020 World’s Strongest Man News

All 10 WSM finalists have been announced. Also, Mark Felix will attempt to set a Hercules Hold record on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, despite not qualifying for the Finals. Another interesting piece of news is the last-minute event change. The last event of day two of the qualifiers was supposed to be the Head-to-Head Atlas Stone event. The second and third-place finishers in each group would load a stone over a bar until one gave up to compete for a spot in the Finals.

According to WSM Facebook Live stream announcer, Nick English, the new event was a head-to-head Atlas Stone series, with eight — eight! — stones. The weights for each stone ranged from 137 kilograms (302 pounds) to 200 kilograms (441 pounds). This was still a competition amongst the second and third-place finishers for a spot in the Finals. 

Featured image: @theworldsstrongestman on Instagram