The 2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) contest kicked off with a bang on Apr. 19, 2023, in sunny Myrtle Beach, SC. The participating athletes were fortunate to work through the first Qualifying Round events on a day that never veered far past the high 70s in temperature.
The first leg of the competition saw the competitors work through the early-morning Loading Race, the early-afternoon Deadlift Machine, and closed with the near-evening Log Ladder. Here’s where the leaderboard stands after Day One, along with a short recap of how each athlete fared in the competition’s kickoff events.
RankNamePointsGroup 11Tom Stoltman — United Kingdom15.52Bobby Thompson — USA143Pavlo Kordiyaka — Ukraine134Konstantine Janashia — Georgia9.55Eddie Williams — Australia66Pa O’Dwyer — Ireland5Group 21Oleksii Novikov — Ukraine162Thomas Evans — USA143Luke Stoltman — United Kingdom124Gavin Bilton — United Kingdom95Kristjan Jon Haraldsson — Iceland8.56Fadi El Masri — Lebanon3.5Group 31Mitchell Hooper — Canada182Mathew Ragg — New Zealand13.53Aivars Smaukstelis — Latvia10.54Graham Hicks — United Kingdom9.55Spenser Remick — USA6.56Mateusz Kielszkowski — Poland5Group 41Brian Shaw — USA15.52Rauno Heinla — Estonia14.53Jaco Schoonwinkel — South Africa144Adam Bishop — United Kingdom85Kevin Faires — USA5.56Gabriel Rheaume — Canada5.5Group 51Trey Mitchell — USA162Evan Singleton — USA15.53Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted — Iceland1.54Mark Felix — United Kingdom7.55Paul Smith — United Kingdom76Jean-Stephen Coraboeuf — France5.5
Here are the results from each Qualifying Round Group, including each athlete’s individual finishes, corresponding time, and placing within the Loading Race, Deadlift Machine, and Log Ladder events.
The contest’s first event tested the competitors’ strength and athleticism. Shortly before the Loading Race began, Cheick “Iron Biby” Sanou withdrew from the competition.
They had an objective of running through a four-to-six-meter (13-to-19.6-foot) field of sand as fast as they could while loading gradually heavier implements onto an elevated platform. The time limit for the Loading Race’s completion was 90 seconds. The implements featured two stacks of bundled logs (106 kilograms/234 pounds and 114.7 kilogram/253 pounds), a 124.7-kilogram (275-pound) anvil, a 120.2-kilogram (265-pound) sandbag, and a 120.2-kilogram (265-pound) “Husafell” sandbag.
Reigning Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) champion and Group 1 competitor, Pavlo Kordiyaka, had the best time (41.38 seconds) while successfully loading all five implements. Meanwhile, presumed top WSM contenders Oleksii Novikov (51.14 seconds) and Mitchell Hooper (42.05 seconds) both breezed through the race to lead Group 2 and Group 3, respectively.
Pavlo Kordiyaka — Five implements, 41.38 seconds
Tom Stoltman — Five implements, 43.84 seconds
Bobby Thompson — Five implements, 56.56 seconds
Konstantine Janashia — Five implements, 61.1 seconds
Pa O’Dwyer — Five implements, 65.89 seconds
Eddie Williams — Five implements, 66.44 seconds
Oleksii Novikov — Five implements, 52.14 seconds
Kristjan Jon Haraldsson — Five implements, 54.58 seconds
Thomas Evans — Five implements, 57.4 seconds
Luke Stoltman — Five implements, 62.78 seconds
Gavin Bilton — Five implements, 63.01 seconds
Fadi El Masri — Four implements, 49.57 seconds
Mitchell Hooper — Five implements, 42.05 seconds
Aivars Šmaukstelis — Five implements, 52.71 seconds
Mathew Ragg — Five implements — 58.72 seconds
Spenser Remick — Five implements, 67.15 seconds
Mateusz Kieliszkowski — Five implements, 67.53 seconds
Graham Hicks — Four implements, 53.4 seconds
Jaco Schoonwinkel — Five implements, 47.1 seconds
Rauno Heinla — Five implements, 51.41 seconds
Brian Shaw — Five implements, 53.7 seconds
Adam Bishop — Four implements, 43.12 seconds
Gabriel Rhéaume — Four implements, 51.03 seconds
Kevin Faires — Three implements, 65.3 seconds
Evan Singleton — Five implements, 46.9 seconds
Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted — Five implements, 56.41 seconds
Trey Mitchell — Five implements, 66.64 seconds
Paul Smith — Four implements, 44.79 seconds
Mark Felix — Four implements, 54.32 seconds
Jean-Stephen Corabeouf — Three implements, 40.63 seconds
The second event of the 2023 WSM, the Deadlift Machine, was a requisite showcase of power and endurance. The athletes had a 75-second time limit to perform as many repetitions as possible on a specially designed deadlift machine.
The weight for the Deadlift Machine was increased after each rep, in the following order: 281 kilograms (619.5 pounds), 298 kilograms (657 pounds), 312 kilograms (687 pounds), 329 kilograms (725 pounds), 345 kilograms (760 pounds), 362 kilograms (798 pounds), and 379 kilograms (835.5 pounds). Any athletes who had the capacity to perform the seventh and final weight could do so as many as they pleased within the allotted time frame.
Hooper (Group 3), Brian Shaw (Group 4), and Trey Mitchell (Group 5) all tied for the most number of repetitions performed with eight. Hooper and Novikov (six reps in Group 2) were the only athletes to score a second consecutive event victory for their Qualifying Round Group.
Bobby Thompson — Seven reps
Tom Stoltman — Six reps
Konstantine Janashia — Six reps
Pavlo Kordiyaka — Five reps
Pa O’Dwyer — Five reps
Eddie Williams — Five reps
Oleksii Novikov — Six reps
Thomas Evans — Five reps
Luke Stoltman — Five reps
Gavin Bilton — Five reps
Kristjan Jon Haraldsson — Four reps
Fadi El Masri — Four reps
Mitchell Hooper — Eight reps
Mathew Ragg — Seven reps
Graham Hicks — Seven reps
Aivars Šmaukstelis — Five reps
Spenser Remick — Five reps
Mateusz Kieliszkowski — Four reps
Brian Shaw — Eight reps
Rauno Heinla — Eight reps
Adam Bishop — Seven reps
Jaco Schoonwinkel — Six reps
Kevin Faires — Five reps
Gabriel Rhéaume — Five reps
Trey Mitchell — Eight reps
Mark Felix — Six reps
Evan Singleton — Six reps
Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted — Six reps
Jean-Stephen Corabeouf — Five reps
Paul Smith — Four reps
As has been the past precedent for WSM contests, the first day of the 2023 WSM concluded with the Log Ladder. The competitors had to power through a challenging ladder of logs, which gradually increased in weight. Once again, they had a 75-second time limit.
Competitors were presented with a series of five fixed-weight logs. They were allowed as many attempts as needed to successfully put the log overhead. After one complete repetition, they progressed to the next weight: 124 kilograms (275 pounds), 140 kilograms (310 pounds), 158 kilograms (350 pounds), 170 kilograms (375 pounds), and 181 kilograms (400 pounds).
Seven of the 30 competitors were able to complete the entire series of five lifts, including reigning WSM champion Tom Stoltman (Group 1), two-time Shaw Classic winner Trey Mitchell (Group 5), and WSM debut athletes Thomas Evans and Mathew Ragg (Group 2 and Group 3, respectively), with Evans completing the lifts in the fastest time of the entire field.
Tom Stoltman — Five reps, 42.5 seconds
Pavlo Kordiyaka — Five reps, 46 seconds
Bobby Thompson — Four reps, 25.83 seconds
Konstantine Janashia — Four reps, 68.35 seconds
Eddie Williams — Four reps, 55.89 seconds
Pa O’Dwyer — Three reps, 25.8 seconds
Thomas Evans — Five reps, 38.96 seconds
Luke Stoltman — Five reps, 52.76 seconds
Oleksii Novikov — Four reps, 32.5 seconds
Gavin Bilton — Four reps, 56.84 seconds
Fadi El Masri — Two reps, 17.43 seconds
Kristjan Jon Haraldsson — Two reps, 16.28 seconds
Mitchell Hooper — Five reps, 39.51 seconds
Mathew Ragg — Five reps, 56.84 seconds
Graham Hicks — Four reps, 28.31 seconds
Aivars Šmaukstelis — Four reps, 30.44 seconds
Mateusz Kieliszkowski — Four reps, 33.24 seconds
Spenser Remick — Four reps, 38.79 seconds
Brian Shaw — Four reps, 33.99 seconds
Jaco Schoonwinkel — Four reps, 34.77 seconds
Rauno Heinla — Three reps, 21.6 seconds
Kevin Faires — Three reps, 28.93 seconds
Gabriel Rhéaume — Three reps, 32.96 seconds
Adam Bishop — Three reps, 33.25 seconds
Trey Mitchell — Five reps, 39.44 seconds
Evan Singleton — Four reps, 35.48 seconds
Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted — Four reps, 39.93 seconds
Paul Smith — Four reps, 45.84 seconds
Jean-Stephen Corabeouf — Three reps, 22.34 seconds
Mark Felix — One rep, 7.58 seconds
While Hooper and Novikov may have separated themselves from the pack, a host of 2023 WSM competitors still need to make their mark at the contest. Not everyone can dominate in the early goings and earn themselves plenty of breathing room in the process. Thursday’s Qualifying Round events, which feature the Conan’s Wheel, Kettlebell Toss, and customary Stone Off to decide five of the 10 berths in the Final, should present a tense show for the athletes and spectators on hand.
With the next legendary WSM Final on the horizon, Thursday will likely go down as a seminal moment in the 46th edition of strongman’s definitive competition.
Featured image: Todd Burandt / Courtesy of World’s Strongest Man