On Jan. 5, 2021, on his YouTube channel, Laurence “Big Loz” Shahlaei announced his long-awaited return to strongman competition. The last time Shahlaei competed was at the 2019 WSM contest, which Martins Licis won. He ruptured his Achilles tendon on the first day of competition while moving a 595-kilogram (1,311.8-pound) yoke during the farmer’s walk and yoke medley event. He has since been documenting his recovery on his YouTube channel and social media.
Before that, Big Loz was a dominant force in the sport and one of the more popular strongmen (he still is). The 6’2″, 350-pound Englishman has competed in the World’s Strongest Man (WSM) contest 11 times — his debut was in 2008, and his best finish was in 2011 when he barely missed the podium in fourth place (2011 was the first of four Brian Shaw victories). Big Loz was England’s Strongest Man (ESM) in 2009, he has four Britain’s Strongest Man (BSM) podium finishes — including two wins in 2012 and 2013, and he was Europe’s Strongest Man in 2016.
According to a video on his YouTube channel, Big Loz has entered the 2021 Giant’s Live BSM event. The show is currently scheduled for April 24, 2021, in Sheffield, England. Check out his full announcement and why he decided to return to competitive strongman in the video below:
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Not wanting to rest his laurels solely on his name recognition, Shahlaei earned his spot in the upcoming 2021 BSM event via an online qualifier. Although he is self-aware enough to recognize he is “not the strongman he once was” following his injury (and the fact that he is now 37 years old), he still believes in his ability to challenge the younger strongmen in the field.
I’ve got to prove to myself whether I can still do this or not.
During his recovery, Shahlaei watched as other older strongmen like Terry Hollands, Mark Felix, Nick Best, and Zydrunas Savickas held their own against the best strongmen in the world.
“This is a way for me to test if I am still good enough,” Shahlaei says in his video. “I didn’t want to go straight into a Giants Live show based on reputation. I don’t know if I’m the same strongman as I was a few years ago.”
Big Loz admits that his training, compared to a few years ago, isn’t as intense. Now, with a show on the horizon, he’s dialing up the discipline. Though, he does also warn fans not to get their hopes up for a WSM return.
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Outside of Competition
Shahlaei very much remained a prominent figure in strongman even when unable to compete. He was a weekly commentator for both seasons of the World’s Ultimate Strongman “Feats of Strength” series — that saw many new world records achieved, including 2018 WSM champion Hafthor Bjornsson‘s 501-kilogram (1,104-pound) deadlift — and became far more active on his YouTube channel. He discusses his personal strongman journey, shares his thoughts on current news within the sport, and produces strongman history videos like his in-depth look at every WSM champion ever.
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Ultimately, Shahlaei’s return is a “fun challenge.” He does not want to give fans the impression that he’ll be back on the WSM stage. Rather, he wants to prove to himself that he’s still got what it takes to compete. He stated that he would consider competing at an even higher level competition against the best in the world if he posts a solid result at the 2021 BSM contest.
Featured image: @biglozwsm on Instagram