The 2023 Arnold Strongman Classic was loaded with memorable storylines and clips for future highlight reels: from Mitchell Hooper‘s consistency to take the overall title in his rookie year after placing third or better in all five events to the return of Mateusz Kieliszkowski with a silver-medal finish.
One of the expected highlights for those future reels was the anticipated performance of Luke Stoltman in The Austrian Oak event. Stoltman is known as one of the best overhead pressers in the sport and the favorite to win any overhead event he enters. However, he struggled in the log lift in Columbus, OH, scoring zero reps on The Austrian Oak.
On March 8, 2023, Stoltman took to his YouTube channel to share what went awry on the competition floor:
Before the confessional with Luke in the video above, two-time reigning World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Tom Stoltman mentioned how difficult the log lift was not only because of how heavy it was (195 kilograms (429.9 pounds)) but because his “legs were kind of like jelly” after the Wheel of Pain event that occurred two hours before The Austrian Oak.
Luke Stoltman’s first mistake was trying something new during the competition.
I never wear grip shirts normally.
Luke tried a grip shirt since it was a heavy log for reps rather than progressively heavier singles with rest between rounds. When rolling the log from the lap to the rack position, it settled higher on his chest than he is used to, and it through him off his center:
I just went dizzy. I started seeing stars; the lights started flickering — I couldn’t focus on anything.
On the verge of losing consciousness, Stoltman had to drop the log and bow out. At the 11:10 mark in the video above, Stoltman’s balance seems somewhat off after he drops the log and walks away.
[Related: 2023 World’s Strongest Man Events Released]
Although he was unable to score meaningful points in the event due to the scoring structure — each rep with The Austrian Oak was worth 100 points, while a rep on the lighter log (175 kilograms (385 pounds)) was worth 10 points — Stoltman regained the favor of the crowd via six reps on the smaller log. Four of those reps were entirely for the show and didn’t influence the rankings.
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Featured Image: @luke.stoltman on Instagram