On Saturday, Apr. 2, 2022, Ukrainian strongman Oleksii Novikov won The 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) contest. The competition venue was held at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, England, and was sanctioned by Giants Live, one of the most prestigious organizations in the sport.
Novikov was coming off a second place finish to Martins Licis at the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic, and has also been involved in the struggle with his home nation of Ukraine against the Russian invasion. 2021 champion Luke Stoltman finished as the runner-up.
You can check out the final standings below, as well as an event-by-event breakdown to see who won each event.
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2022 Europe’s Strongest Man Overall Rankings
- Oleksii Novikov — 52 points
- Luke Stoltman — 48 points
- Konstantine Janashia — 38.5 points
- Pavlo Kordiyaka — 37 points
- Shane Flowers — 36.5 points
- Aivars Smaukstelis — 33 points
- Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted — 29 points
- Marius Lalas — 28.5 points
- Kelvin de Ruiter — 23 points
- Pa O’Dwyer — 20 points
- Gavin Bilton — 19.5 points
- Rauno Heinla — 13 points (withdrew)
Event 1 — Max Log Lift Challenge
The goal is simple — lift the most weight out of any man in the field. This is also known as the Max Log Lift World Championships. Some athletes journeyed to Leeds to only participate in this event, such as current world record holder Chieck “Iron Biby” Sanou and American Log Press record holder Bobby Thompson.
By the time Luke Stoltman lifted 200 kilograms (440 pounds) overhead, he had won the event for the overall contest. He joined Thompson and Sanou as the final three athletes competing for the Log Press win. Thompson’s best effort was 200 kilograms, while Stoltman and Sanou both achieved successful lifts with 218 kilograms (480.7 pounds).
Sanou and Stoltman both attempted to break the world record by one kilogram by attempting 230 kilograms, but neither man was able to lock out the massive weight. Therefore, Sanou and Stoltman tied for the win in the overall event with 218 kilograms each.
- Luke Stoltman — 218 kilograms
- Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted — 185 kilograms
- Pavlo Kordiyaka — 185 kilograms (tie)
- Oleksii Novikov — 185 kilograms (tie)
- Gavin Bilton — 170 kilograms
- Shane Flowers — 170 kilograms (tie)
- Konstantine Janashia — 170 kilograms (tie)
- Marius Lalas — 170 kilograms (tie)
- Kelvin de Ruiter — 0
- Rauno Heinla — 0
- Pa O’Dwyer — 0
- Aimars Smaukstelis — 0
Note: The rankings above show the finish for the ESM event itself. The second through fourth-place finishers split points evenly, as do the fifth through eighth-place position holders. Competitors that failed to achieve a good rep received zero points.
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Event 2 — Deadlift Ladder
Athletes had 75 seconds to successfully deadlift five different weights ranging from 300 kilograms (661 pounds) to 400 kilograms (881 pounds), testing both their strength and endurance capabilities.
No one was able to lift all five weights successfully, but Konstantine Janashia stood with the first four weights in 35.04 seconds. Rauno Heinla took the silver spot, while 2020 World’s Strongest Man Novikov, who was able to step away from his military commitments in Ukraine in order to compete, rounded out the top three.
Thanks to a strong finish, Novikov was able to put himself in a tie for first place overall with Stoltman at this point in the overall competition.
- Konstantine Janashia — 4 reps in 35.04 seconds
- Rauno Heinla — 4 reps in 39.49 seconds
- Oleksii Novikov — 4 reps in 41.92 seconds
- Marius Lalas — 4 reps in 48.2 seconds
- Luke Stoltman — 4 reps in 55.21 seconds
- Shane Flowers — 4 reps in 61.03 seconds
- Pa O’Dwyer — 3 reps in 28.7 seconds
- Aimars Smaukstelis — 3 reps in 29.23 seconds
- Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted — 3 reps in 32.2 seconds
- Gavin Bilton — 3 reps in 38.4 seconds
- Kelvin de Ruiter — 3 reps in 40.5 seconds
- Pavlo Kordiyaka — 3 reps in 48.76 seconds
Event 3 — Carry and Drag
The competitors were asked to carry a 120-kilogram (264-pound) anchor down a 20-meter course. They must then connect it to a 350-kilogram (771 pound) chain and drag both back the full 20 meters. They competed in heats of three at a time. The fastest time determined the winner — Novikov — who needed just 26.26 seconds to get the job done.
Kelvin de Ruiter came in second place by less than a quarter-second. Pavlo Kordiyaka rounded out the top three by finishing in 27.3 seconds. Thanks to this win, Novikov took a four-point overall lead in the contest over defending champion Stoltman.
- Oleksii Novikov — 26.26 seconds
- Kelvin de Ruiter — 26.5 seconds
- Pavlo Kordiyaka — 27.3 seconds
- Shane Flowers — 27.45 seconds
- Luke Stoltman — 28.4 seconds
- Aimars Smaukstelis — 29.03 seconds
- Pa O’Dwyer — 29.54 seconds
- Marius Lalas — 30.11 seconds
- Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted — 33.51 seconds
- Konstantine Janashia — 35.28 seconds
- Rauno Heinla — 35.87 seconds
- Gavin Bilton — 42.22 seconds
Event 4 — Power Stairs
Prior to the start of the fourth event, Heinla withdrew from the contest, leaving 11 men left in the field. No specific reason was given at the time.
Even 4 was a ladder event featuring 5 weights. The objects at this event ranged from 200 kilograms (440 pounds) up to 250 kilograms (551 pounds). Each weight had to be lifted up three stairs one step at a time. Speed matters, but care is essential as well, because the weight must be placed fully on the top step for it to count.
Aivars Smaukstelis surprised the field and audience by taking the win with a time of 27.2 seconds. Pavlo Kordiyaka and Shane Flowers also completed the course in less than 30 seconds to take second and third, respectively. Stoltman and Novikov rounded out the top five, setting up for a dramatic finish.
- Aivars Smaukstelis — 27.2 seconds
- Pavlo Kordiyaka — 28.09 seconds
- Shane Flowers — 29.27 seconds
- Luke Stoltman — 30.1 seconds
- Oleksii Novikov — 30.25 seconds
- Konstantine Janashia — 31.05 seconds
- Marius Lalas — 32.67 seconds
- Kelvin de Ruiter — 35.56 seconds
- Pa O’Dwyer — 40.16 seconds
- Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted — 48.35 seconds
- Gavin Bilton — 51.81 seconds
Event 5 — Atlas Stones
The Atlas Stones would determine the final standings. The stones featured in this event ranged from 100 kilograms (220 pounds) to 180 kilograms (397 pounds). Each had to be placed on its respective pedestal without it rolling off in the quickest time possible, up to 60 seconds.
The top two contenders for the title were Novikov and Stoltman. Novikov entered this event with a three-point lead. Stoltman had to do considerably better than Novikov if he wanted to repeat as champion.
Flowers was in third place overall going into this event, but he suffered an injury as he was going to lift the final stone, and he was unable to finish the event. Novikov and Stoltman were in the final heat, and Novikov was able to take the win. In an act of true sportsmanship, Stoltman celebrated Novikov by lifting his arm in victory.
- Oleksii Novikov — 20.3 seconds
- Luke Stoltman — 20.4 seconds
- Konstantine Janashia — 24.02 seconds
- Aivars Smaukstelis — 24.34 seconds
- Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted — 25.2 seconds
- Gavin Bilton — 25.28 seconds
- Pavlo Kordiyaka — 25.31 seconds
- Kelvin de Ruiter — 30.6 seconds
- Pa O’Dwyer — 31.03 seconds
- Marius Lalas — 4 stones (time not reported)
- Shane Flowers — 4 stones (time not reported)
Novikov is the first man from Ukraine to win the ESM title, and he is the third straight unique champion in the last three years. Novikov finished second to Stoltman in the 2021 contest. The last man to successfully defend the title was Hafthor Björnsson, who won three straight titles from 2017 to 2019.
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