Rob Kearney had a following in the strongman community but may not have been as well-known as the bigger names in the sport before he traveled to Melbourne, Australia. That all changed by the time his weekend was over. His name was trending worldwide on Twitter and his photos with Arnold Schwarzenegger were being shared all over the internet.
Kearney talked about how he felt about each event during the Arnold Australia Strongman event which he called his biggest win to date as well as the next day when he got married and treated to a night on the town by Arnold himself.
Name: Rob Kearney
Competition Weight: 280 pounds
Event 1: The Super Yoke
Going into this event, Kearney had only lost one yoke event in his career so he had a right to be confident with this as an opening event. “It was a good way to start the event and set the tone for the weekend for me. It was 500 kilos which is actually the norm now. That’s pretty crazy when you think about it that 1,100 pounds is normal for a competition weight.”
Kearney was paired with Jerry Pritchett in the second to last heat. “My thing was to feel confident and take off as quick as I could and I did. I finished in 13 seconds which was four seconds faster than second place.”
Event 2: Log Press for Max Weight
Kearney is also good at the log press but his split jerk has been the topic of controversy in the past. Having this event here served him well for another reason. “I have the world log press championships in a couple weeks so it transitions into that very well.” His confidence was showing when selecting weights as the event was closing. “I didn’t care what they picked. I was going to hit it.” He would win this event also with a 200 kg (440 pound) press for his second straight victory.
Event 3: Power Stairs
Being one of the shorter men in the field, Kearney knew he may not do as well here. “My goal going into it was ‘don’t suck’. Keep myself in a good position going into Day 2.” Since this was the last event of the day, he was going to leave it all on the field for this one. “I knew since that was the last event of the day I could essentially blow my load on that one event and give it my all. I definitely struggled on the last two implements.” Kearney finished eighth on the day and wrapped up Day 1 with the overall lead.
Event 4: Viking Press
The max frame deadlift was supposed to start Day 2 but a change was made. “Arnold wanted to see the Viking Press so we actually started with it.” This was great for Kearney because he saw an opportunity to silence some critics. “I got a lot of crap going into the contest and still do because people think I’m only good overhead with a split jerk. I saw this as an FU to everybody because I can show I can push press too.” That motivation along with Arnold counting reps fueled his fire because he took the win with 13 reps with the 160 kilos (352 pounds). “It was actually lighter than I had been training with.”
Event 5: Max Frame Deadlift
Kearney was doing well up to completing 470 kilos (1,034 pounds). A technical flaw cost him a lift of 500 kilos (1,102 pounds). “I strapped in and gave it hell. As I had gotten the weight off the ground I was on my heels too much and fell backwards. With a weight like that you only get one good go at it and that’s it. I tried it for a second time and it didn’t budge.” Kearney tied for 6th in this event but still had the overall lead by half a point going into the last event.
Event 6: Atlas Stones
“I definitely had the what ifs going on because of how big an event this is and going against (Matjaz) Belsak in the stones. The guy’s a freak and so young. He’s only 25 and been to the World’s Strongest Man twice already.” Kearney knew that he had to get the first three to four stones fast if he were to win but he actually made a decision that he questions now.
“I took some time to retack before the 4th stone. I noticed Matjaz already had the stone in his lap. So I waited which in retrospect was dumb because if he got that stone before me, that was it and he would take first place.” Belsak fell back and Kearney was able to get the last one for the win.
Another Big Moment
Another reason why Kearney was trending on social media was because the next day he got married and the newlyweds got treated to a night on the town by Arnold himself. “After the event he invited us out to dinner and took us for a yacht ride around Melbourne as well. It was amazing. To have him essentially spoil us for a night was amazing to say the least.”
Kearney’s next event is the World Log Press Championships on April 6th in Leeds, England. For more about him, you can follow him @worlds_strongest_gay on Instagram .