Oleksii Novikov Recaps His Journey to Bronze at the 2021 Giants Live World Open

The 2020 WSM champ looks back at the events and athletes that made this competition so tough.

At the 2021 Giants Live World Open in Manchester, UK, 2020 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Oleksii Novikov battled his way against some of the best strongmen in the world to a third-place finish. It marked the continuation of his successful reascension to the top tier of the sport following his performance at the 2021 WSM contest, where he failed to make the Finals.

Since the 2021 WSM, Novikov won the 2021 Strongman Classic on July 24, 2021, and trained alongside 2019 WSM champion Martins Licis in preparation for the World Open. In the five events featured in the contest, Novikov never ranked lower than fourth among the 10 competitors. However, during the competition, Novikov sustained a concussion — according to Brian Shaw — that has led to his withdrawal from the 2021 Shaw Classic scheduled for Aug. 27-28 in Estes Park, CO. (Novikov does not address the alleged concussion in the video below.)

The 2020 WSM champion recapped his experience of the World Open on his YouTube channel. He shares how he felt about the events, the competition, and why it was going to be a tough contest from the start. Check it out below:

Going into the contest, Novikov admits that he was worried the events “did not suit” him. Although he did not disclose what his expectations were in each event, he ended up faring quite well, finishing outside the top three in only a single event.

Oleksii Novikov — 2021 Giants Live World Open Performance

Here is Novikov’s full World Open performance:

  • Max Deadlift — Second (tied with Bishop, Singleton, Pavlo Nakonechnyy, and Gabriel Peña), 453.5 kilograms (999.8 pounds)
  • Carry & Drag — Third, 31.59 seconds
  • Viking Press — Second (tied with Bishop), 11 reps
  • Hammer Hold — Second, 43.93 seconds
  • Castle Stones — Fourth, five stones in 20.9 seconds

Novikov finished third overall with 39.5 points. Evan Singleton won the contest with 43 points. Adam Bishop was the runner-up with 40.5 points.

Analyzing the Competition

Despite being the only WSM champion in the field at the 2021 World Open, Novikov believes that his competition was better equipped to handle the specific layout of events. He says Bishop as an excellent deadlifter, quick in the Stones, strong in the Viking Press, and had home-field advantage. Another competitor who had a home-field advantage was Singleton, who Novikov says recently moved to England. Therefore, he got to train using the specific Giants Live kit, which Novikov says is a huge advantage. 

Novikov admits he was wrong about Singleton’s deadlifting ability. He did not expect Singleton to pull over 400 kilograms (881.9 pounds). Singleton ultimately tied Novikov in the Max Deadlift event by locking out 453.5 kilograms (999.8 pounds).

I thought he was not good in the deadlift. I was wrong.

The third athlete that Novikov had his eye on heading into the event was Pavlo Nakonechnyy. The 24-year-old is one of the top contenders to potentially break 2018 WSM champion Hafthor Björnsson‘s deadlift world record of 501 kilograms (1,104 pounds).

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Oleksii Novikov (@novikov_strong_wsm)

Novikov also thought Nakonechnyy’ss combination of mass and speed would make him a force in the Carry & Drag event. Novikov was correct. Nakonechnyy blitzed the farmer’s carry but landed in fifth overall in the event due to stumbling multiple times during the anchor drag.

Assessing His Own Performance

Novikov also underestimated his own ability in the deadlift. His PR prior to the contest was 425 kilograms (937-pounds). After tightening up his deadlift suit as much as possible, he exceeded his expectations by almost 30 kilograms — what a way to kick off the competition. 

It’s an unbelievable number. I’m still happy and can’t believe I lifted that weight.

As was the case with the Max Deadlift, Novikov did not expect a big performance in the Carry & Drag. The Ukrainian didn’t train for the event due to lingering knee pains that caused them to swell. Additionally, Novikov was low on chalk, which means his grip suffered. Nakonechnyy had some extra chalk on him, but he didn’t want to share, Novikov says.

However, with some quick prep work right beforehand on how to best maneuver the beams in the farmer’s carry, and anchor drag tips from Luke Stoltman, who was on-site, Novikov scored a third-place event finish.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Oleksii Novikov (@novikov_strong_wsm)

 

Novikov’s knees were aggravated in the Carry & Drag, affecting his leg drive during the Viking Press event. He had taken some painkillers that somewhat numbed the pain, but it was still sharp enough that he was susceptible to injury. Using mostly upper body strength, he scored 11 reps. His performance was only matched by Bishop and beaten by Singleton, who posted 12 reps.

If my knees were healthy and I didn’t worry about them, I probably would have done more.

Despite it being the event that knocked him out of contention at the 2021 WSM contest, the Hammer Hold is Novikov’s favorite event. He felt his competitors viewed him as the underdog in the event, but he knew he would rank top three. His intuition was correct and he finished second, losing only to Peña.

Novikov entered the final event in second-place overall and knew Bishop’s run of 18.81 seconds was the time to beat. The first stone weighed 100 kilograms (220.5 pounds) — much lighter in practice than Novikov anticipated. Because it was so light (for Novikov at least), he stumbled, which cost him precious seconds. The fourth stone slipped twice as he loaded it, causing another hiccup in his overall time. Those mistakes allowed Bishop to overtake him in the standings and claim second place overall.

Looking Forward

Despite the handful of mistakes Novikov made in the World Open, he was “incredibly happy” with a bronze-medal finish. He is no longer on the official roster for the 2021 Shaw Classic due to suffering a concussion. However, he intends to focus on shoring up his weakness in the Atlas Stones to prevent conceding points in future contests and will continue rehabbing his knees to return to competition fresh.

Featured image: @novikov_strong_wsm on Instagram