Another year of the World’s Strongest Man Arena Tour competition, also known as Giants Live, is over. On 7 September 2019, it came to a culmination of explosive power and excitement at Manchester Arena.
An enthusiastic crowd gathered to see if Mateusz Kieliszkowski, the 2018’s champion, would be able to hold on to his title in 2019.
But this night was not the only one, the athletes had already competed twice before.
Leeds 6 April - First Direct Arena
The World Log Lift Challenge
While there were 9 competitors for the Strongest Man competition, another four athletes joined for the first event, the World Log Lift Challenge 2019.
This event kicked off the competition in style, crushing several records.
The first record to be crushed was the American Log Press Record at 214 kg, by Rob Kearney, aka The World’s Strongest Gay. With Rob weighing around 105 kg himself, this is an amazing feat.
However, this was not enough to win the event. Graham Hicks managed to secure the British Log Press Record, also at 214 kg. Mateusz Kieliszkowski also pressed 214 kg, putting him in the lead to consolidate his title.
These records were all beaten when IRON Biby (Cheick Sanou from Burkina Faso) took the stage. Skipping the 175 kg and 190 kg, he first pressed 202.5 kg as a warm-up and then went straight for 220 kg. Graham Hicks also went for 220 kg, but the judge found that he was unsteady in the lockout, and did not allow the lift.
Iron Biby then went for 229 kg, which would have been a new world record, but this proved too much, even for him. However, his 220 kg was enough to win this event.
Giant 350 kg Axle Deadlift
With 10 reps Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, a.k.a. GoT’s “The Mountain”, proved too strong, winning this event. Mateusz Kieliszkowski only managed 3 reps, giving him 7th place in this event.
Flip Tractor Tyres and Chain Drag
This flipping and dragging event saw a fierce battle between Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson and Mateusz Kieliszkowski, with Mateusz’s 43.14 seconds being enough to beat Hafþór’s 44.49 seconds. It was very clear that the battle between first and second place this night would be between these two men.
The Pillars of Hercules
This event, brand new for 2019, turned out to be disastrous for Mateusz. Coming in second to last, with 40 seconds, Mateusz helped Hafþór to set himself up as a clear favourite for tonight’s victory with 55.13 seconds. This was not enough to win this event, Mark Felix was unbeatable, holding the pillars in place for an overwhelming 82.26 seconds! At the age of 53 years old, Mark proved that age is not a deciding factor in these events.
The final event was a clear victory for Tom Stoltman, with 5 stones in a blistering 21.81 seconds. Fighting till the end, Mateusz Kieliszkowski managed the 5 stones in 22.61 seconds, taking second place in this event. Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson only managed 3 stones, ranking him 7th in this event.
The final result of this evening was that Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson won this evening, and was leading for the title of 2019 with a total of 35.5 points, with Mateusz Kieliszkowski close on his heels with 31 points.
Wembley 7 July
This second evening, unfortunately, saw Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson being absent this night, giving Mateusz Kieliszkowski the best opportunity to close the gap for this year’s title.
With all athletes eager to beat Eddie ‘The Beast’ Hall’s record from 2016, this event is special. The 500 kg deadlift record has been taunting the athletes for three years now, making this one of the most anticipated events.
Mateusz Kieliszkowski managed 400 kg, which was the starting weight but failed to lift 420 kg. With both Jerry Pritchett and Rauno Heinla lifting 455 kg, this event was a tie for first place.
Jerry Pritchett even tried to break his record of 465 kg, by lifting 467.5 kg, but unfortunately did not manage.
Mateusz Kieliszkowski covered the 40-metre course, carrying a 160 kg steel girder in each hand, in 18.78 seconds, winning this event and increasing his lead for this year’s champion.
Even though they didn’t even come close to the other times, Rob Kearney and Adam Bishop did not make it easy for themselves. While Bishop was leading most of the course, in the end, Kearney managed to catch up. With 51.96 seconds for Bishop and 51.98 seconds for Kearney, this was an extremely entertaining race to watch.
The Safe Press event was again dominated by Kieliszkowski, managing 13 reps. Only Luke “The Highland Oak” Stoltman came close with 12 reps, with all the other competitors staying below 10 reps.
Pillars of Hercules
With Mark Felix taking the victory in this event previously, crushing the competition with his 82.26 seconds, everyone was looking in anticipation to see what he could do this time. And he did not disappoint.
Improving his previous record, he managed to hold the pillars for 83.62 seconds, thereby winning this event. With the second place for Kieliszkowski, with a time of 49.64 seconds, Mark Felix is the master of the Pillars of Hercules. At the age of 53, this strong man is one of the absolute favourites of crowds everywhere.
As a bonus, two retired Strongmen also took on the challenge of the Pillars of Hercules.
Magnus Ver Magnusson, aged 56, and Bill Kazmaier, aged 65, showed they could still hold their own and are not to be ignored. Even with 20 kg less per pillar, these men still brought the crowd to its feet, when Magnussen held the pillars for 1:41:20 minutes. Both men got a well-deserved standing ovation from the appreciative crowd.
The final event for the evening was the ever-popular Atlas Stones, where the 5 stones, weighing 120, 140, 160, 180 and 200 kg are hoisted onto a platform as fast as possible.
Tom Stoltman again showed his power and agility in this event when he managed all stones in a time of 20.69 seconds. He was, however, outdone by Martins “King Dragon” Licis, managing the 5 stones in 20.37 seconds.
Mateusz Kieliszkowski came third in this event with 27.43 seconds, which secured his overall victor for this evening with 38.5 points.
The second was Jerry Pritchett with 31.5 points and third was Martins Licis with 30 points.
Manchester 7 September - The Finals
The final night of the 2019 World’s Strongest Man Arena Tour took place on 7 September at Manchester Arena.
With the five events of the evening; a 350 kg Axle Deadlift, the 450 kg Car Walk, a giant 100 kg Dumbbell constructed of steel and rock, the now infamous Pillars of Hercules and the Atlas Stones, this crowd was in for a real treat.
With Hafþór Björnsson absent this night, Mateusz Kieliszkowski was in great shape to be crowned this year’s Giants Live World Tour.
350 Kg Axle Deadlift
Deadlifting the 350 kg weighing Axle has been a crowd-pleaser for years. This sheer show of power came to an unexpected result with 3 of the athletes crushing 7 reps. Oleksii Novikov, Mark Felix and Adam Bishop all managed 7 reps, tying them for 1st place. Mikhail Shivlyakov tore his hamstring during this event but continued to compete, showing that this competition is as much about mental attitude as it is about power and muscle.
450 Kg Car Walk
Some fierce competition took place when Iron Biby and Evan Singleton took on the Car Walk. Both men went for it, trying to better Robert Oberst first-place standing with 14.46. And they did, carrying the 450 kg heavy cars across the track in 11.25 seconds for Singleton, only to be beaten by Biby by .13 seconds. Biby’s time of 11.12 seconds came very close to the current World Record of 11.05 seconds, held by Laurence Shahlaie.
Nobody expected Biby’s time to be beaten, but then Mateusz Kieliszkowski stepped up to the plate. Still aiming for the title, he grabbed hold of that car and carried it to the mark in a new World Record of 10.0 seconds. This new record is most likely to stay unbeaten for some time to come.
Unfortunately for him, Mikhail Shivlyakov’s torn hamstring made him the only competitor unable to carry the car to the finish line. He had to give up after 1.1 meters.
100 kg Dumbbell
This monster created out of steel and rock saw Mateusz Kieliszkowski again taking first place with 9 reps. Only Oleksii Novikov, Evan Singleton and Iron Biby were able to challenge Kieliszkowski, but could not beat Mateusz. The did respectively 8, 7 and 7 reps.
Pillars of Hercules
Since the Pillars of Hercules were introduced to Giants Live in Leeds on 6 April, the granddaddy of them all, 53-year-old Mark Felix, has dominated this event. Leaving the rest of the pack behind by 30 seconds and more, all eyes were on him. Could he win this event, or better still, could he improve upon his record of 83.62 seconds?
The answer to that question was a resounding YES. With a time of 87.52 seconds, Mark Felix again showed everybody that he is the Master of the Pillars.
But the other athletes are closing in. Robert Oberst set a time of 79.63 seconds, making the difference a mere 7.89 seconds. Ben Brunning, a last-minute addition to the line-up, also snuck up on Felix with his time of 75.4 seconds.
While Mark Felix is still dominating this event, we may see one of the other competitors beat him soon.
By the time we reached the fifth, and final, event, Iron Biby and Oleksii Novikov were leading this night. However, Mateusz Kieliszkowski was not far behind and was still aiming to consolidate his title.
Mikhail Shivlyakov had participated in all events up until then but decided not to risk extra injury and did not try the Atlas Stones.
Iron Biby usually does not perform well with the stones, and after he managed to hoist 4 stones, he had to give this one up. This opened the way for Novikov and Kieliszkowski to compete for first place. Novikov did fairly well, with 5 stones in 29.38 seconds, but he was no match for Kieliszkowski. Only needing 21.15 seconds for his stones, Kieliszkowski secured first place in this event, with Mark Felix coming in second with 26.53 seconds, and Ben Brunning coming in third with 26.79 seconds.
The winner of this night was Mateusz Kieliszkowski with 47.5 points.
The second was Ben Brunning Pritchett with 45 points and third was Oleksii Novikov, also with 45 points.
But that was only part of the prizes for this evening.
As this was the final event for the World’s Strongest Man Arena Tour competition, this second Giants Live trophy made sure that Mateusz Kieliszkowski holds on to this title for another year!
This sport keeps growing and attracting new and exciting athletes. Check out where the next events take place near you on the Giants Live website. Here you can read up on past events, find out about the Giants and Legends, or find the next event and purchase tickets.
And if you want to view the shows online, go to https://officialstrongman.com/ for live-streams, view past shows or join their community forum to chat with other athletes and enthusiast.
What is Giants Live?
Started in 2009, Giants Live is the Official World's Strongest Man Qualifying Tour.
During several nights, the athletes compete in 5 different events. At the end of the last night, the top 3 athletes qualify for the World’s Strongest Man final.
This final took place in Bradenton, Florida in 2019 and was won by Martins Licis. Defending champion Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson suffered an injury in the first event but was able to complete the competition and finish 3rd on the podium.
While the shows attract thousands of visitors, even over 10,000 in some areas, it is televised to millions of viewers. This is a huge exposure for not only the athletes but also the organization. The smallest mistake is visible, this is all done by a small, but extremely dedicated team. The reason why is because they want everyone to be able to attend the show, if possible, the cost of the tickets needs to be reasonable. Of course, there are VIP and VVIP tickets, costing hundreds of pounds, but you can already watch the show for 40 to 50 pound.
An event like this is only possible using sponsoring, which is something most event promoters rely upon these days. The UK events were sponsored by BoohooMAN, an affordable apparel retail company, giving the company extra exposure and branding, by reaching millions of potential customers.
For you, it means cheaper tickets and a great night of entertainment.
And it means that every time one of the athletes rips his shirt, he doesn’t need to worry about the cost of his shirts.