Oleksii Novikov is one of strongman’s biggest names and someone many had an eye on entering the meat of the 2023 competitive season. Given recent developments, it looks like the Ukrainian superstar will have to contend with a minor bout of adversity to live up to astronomical expectations.
During a Mar. 18, 2023, YouTube video, Novikov revealed he suffered “a small tear” in his lat muscle during a training session in preparation for the upcoming 2023 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) and World’s Strongest Man (WSM) contests. Novikov didn’t disclose precisely when the injury occurred or its exact degree, but characterized it as a minor ailment suffered at some point during a sandbag-focused workout.
He will proceed with his plans to compete in the 2023 ESM on Apr. 1 in Leeds, England, and the 2023 WSM on Apr. 19-23, 2023, in Myrtle Beach, SC. Novikov is the defending ESM champion and the winner of the 2020 WSM.
Despite his injury, Novikov made it seem like it wasn’t much of a hindrance. The video of his reveal featured the strongman powering through various upper-body centric movements including a standing log press, an incline press with the same log implement, and even the famed Fingal’s Fingers: a staple event at many strongman contests.
At the same time, a careful Novikov maintained he wasn’t trying to “activate” his lat muscles as much as he normally would. Novikov’s resolve to defend his ESM title and vie for a second career WSM championship might be admirable, but the injury could put a hitch into his plans. If the strongman is anything less than 100% at either competition — again, the exact timeline and nature of his injury and ensuing recovery process are unknown at the time of this writing — it could potentially impact both respective podiums.
Here is the roster for the 2023 ESM at the time of this article’s publication:
2023 Europe’s Strongest Man Roster
Here is the 2023 WSM roster:
Tom Stoltman (United Kingdom) — Reigning two-time WSM Champion
Pavlo Kordiyaka (Ukraine)
Evan Singleton (United States)
Mitchell Hooper (Canada)
Trey Mitchell (United States)
Adam Bishop (United Kingdom)
Aivars Šmaukstelis (Latvia)
Kevin Faires (United States)
Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted (Iceland)
Paul Smith (United Kingdom)
Rauno Heinla (Estonia)
Bobby Thompson (United States)
Mateusz Kieliszkowski (Poland)
Gavin Bilton (United Kingdom)
Spenser Remick (United States)
Eddie Williams (Australia)
Pavlo Nakonechnyy (Ukraine)
Konstantine Janashia (Georgia)
Graham Hicks (United Kingdom)
Luke Stoltman (United Kingdom)
Mathew Ragg (New Zealand)
Gabriel Rhéaume (Canada)
Brian Shaw (United States)
Jaco Schoonwinkel (South Africa)
Mark Felix (Grenada)
Fadi El Masri (Lebanon)
*Maxime Boudreault (Canada) (qualified but withdrew due to shin injury)
According to Strongman Archives, Novikov recorded a podium finish in seven of eight competitive strongman appearances in 2022. In addition to his ESM victory, the athlete was triumphant in the 2022 Giants Live Strongman Classic and the 2022 Strongman Rogue Invitational. Novikov finished in third place behind Martins Licis (second) and two-time reigning champion Tom Stoltman at the 2022 WSM.
It appears Novikov won’t let any obstacles get in his way of fruitful 2023 performances. Whether he can persevere through his injury and still shine at the 2023 ESM and WSM remains to be seen. Regardless, something says this superstar will find the means to make it all come together beautifully.
Featured image: Oleksii Novikov [ENG] / YouTube