Icelandic strongman, Hafþór Júlíus "Thor" Björnsson—otherwise known as the Mountain from Game of Thrones—came to Leeds on 1st April 2017 with one goal - to take back his crown as Europe’s Strongest Man.

Reigning champion, Laurence Shahlaei, and Eddie “the Beast” Hall weren’t going to give him an easy ride.

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Icelandic strongman, Hafþór Júlíus "Thor" Björnsson—otherwise known as the Mountain from Game of Thrones—came to Leeds on 1st April 2017 with one goal - to take back his crown as Europe’s Strongest Man.

Reigning champion, Laurence Shahlaei, and Eddie “the Beast” Hall weren’t going to give him an easy ride.


>>Athlete list and score table can be seen here<<

Beauty and the Beast

As if the prospect of defeating two formidable rivals weren't enough of a challenge, Thor had also been diagnosed with Bell's Palsy a few days before the show—a condition that causes paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. But the athlete, despite looking a little more snarly than usual, seemed unfazed, reassuring the audience:

“I may be sick but I'm still here to make a great show. This isn't a  beauty contest – THIS IS STRONGMAN!”

An epic entrance for an epic audience

It was a sell-out crowd of 11,000 at the First Direct Arena. No other strongman show has ever had a live audience this big. A battle of epic proportions was about to go down. The atmosphere was electric and the competition was as fierce and as entertaining as ever.

To honour the sudden ascendancy of strongman to the mainstream and in keeping with the new stadium, we witnessed the most dramatic strongman walk-on yet.

The 11 athletes entered the stage with a BOOM, one by one, to their own theme tune, amidst plumes of smoke and even pyrotechnics.

Thor emerged to a deafening Icelandic drum and Viking clap which started slow and gradually built pace to an intense wall of noise cuing the arrival of the giant.

When Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast came on, there was no doubt which athlete was about to step on stage next. But what the audience perhaps didn't expect was Eddie's arrival in a genuinely quite terrifying horror movie-style mask and chains. It's not a sight you'd ever want to find yourself face to face with in a dark alley, that's for sure.

Last year's champion Shahlaei was the final athlete to take to the stage, dressed appropriately as the reigning King in crown and royal robe complete with Sceptre.

With the theatrical formalities out of the way. It was time to get down to the serious business of deciding who would be Europe's Strongest Man 2017.

Event 1 – Bus Pull

We wanted to put the athlete's pulling power to the ultimate test with a truck pull event, but arena health and safety restrictions put a spanner in the works. Instead, event 1 was held as a Charity event at a secret location the day before the main arena show where the athletes pulled an 8-tonne vintage bus across a 20m course. Exclusive footage of the event was then shown on big screens at the live show.

It was a tough course on a gradual incline which many of the athletes just couldn't overcome. Thor was the only man to successfully pull the bus over the finish line, but Terry Hollands proved that although he may have lost a few kilos, he's still got it when it comes to pulling trucks. Terry secured a second place spot with a distance of 19.57m and Eddie came in third with 19.15.

>>Full score table can be seen here<<

Event 2 – Axle press

The overhead Axle press was a ‘last man standing' round with a staggering starting weight of 160kg which all but one athlete (Zageris) completed.

Sadly, we lost one athlete when the weight on the bar went up to 180kilos. Adam Bishop pulled out with a suspected bicep tendon rupture on his 180kg attempt. We hope Adam makes a speedy recovery.

Laurence, Eddie, Thor and Belsak all made the 180 lift and so did Janashia, to roaring support from the audience, on his second attempt.

The weight then went up to 200kg. Laurence attempted the lift but couldn't make it. Eddie and Belsak both nailed it. Thor struggled with the lock out on his first attempt and had to go for a second go, locking out second time around to the satisfaction of referee and 4 x World's Strongest Man, Magnus Ver Magnusson.

Only two athletes attempted the next weight of 206 kilos: the Beast and the Mountain. The Beast was first up and it was an easy lift for him—and a new British record! Thor managed the lift too, although it wasn't quite as clean as Eddie's, struggling again with a sticking point in his lock out.

New world record!

Eddie, in true Eddie style, then had no problem smashing the World Record axle press with a 216 kilo press, addressing his doubters:

“Don't EVER put a limit on what I can do, ‘cos I will prove you wrong every time.”

It must have been tough to watch for Žydrūnas Savickas—“Big Z”—who was a special guest at the show and watching from the side lines as his previous record of 215kg was so effortlessly surpassed right in front of his eyes.

>>Full score table can be seen here<<

Event 3 - Tyre flip and drag

Next up… something a little different!

The athletes had to flip a humongous 450kg tyre 4 times, before dragging a giant anchor and chain back across the course, for time.

It was Thor's turn to take top spot with a time of 29.06 seconds, followed by Terry with 35.66 and the Beast with 36.88 seconds.

>>Full score table can be seen here<<

Event 4 – Deadlift for reps

At this point in the competition, reigning champion Laurence Shahlaei unfortunately had to withdraw from the contest. ‘Big Loz' as he is affectionately known by his fans, told the crowd he had been taken ill a few days before the show and had been unable to eat properly. After advice from doctors backstage, Loz retired from the contest deciding instead to save his energy for World's Strongest Man. Get well soon, Loz!

In the fourth event—an 800lb deadlift ‘for reps'—to chants of ‘BEAST, BEAST, BEAST', Eddie, World Record deadlift holder, stole the show with an incredible 10 reps in 60 seconds.

Felix, also known for his deadlifting prowess, made 7 reps and was just beaten to second place by 8 reps from the mighty Thor.

>>Full score table can be seen here<<

Event 5 – Car walk

For the penultimate event, the remaining athletes strapped themselves into VW Beetles, Flintstone's style, for the 20m car walk.

Sadly, Dainis Zageris was feeling unwell and pulled out of the competition, missing the final two events. We hope you're feeling better, Dainis!

It was another win for Eddie with a speedy 12.51 second run, but Thor was nipping at his bumper plate, just .31 of a second behind!

>>Full score table can be seen here<<

Event 6 – Atlas stones

The only way to end a strongman show!

And what an ending it was! The atlas stones was a strongman-shootout to determine whether it would be the Beast or the Mountain taking home the trophy.

But the audience was first treated to a good old fashioned Stoltman shirt rip-off when the Scotsman beat German Godzilla, Raffael Gordzielik, taking 7th place overall. This isn't the last we've heard of the Highland Oak, either. Stoltman announced he intended to “put Scotland on the map!”. We can't wait to see what this promising young athlete has still got to bring.

Belsak and Felix were up next. Felix completed all 5 stones in 30.68 seconds, ultimately putting him in 3rd place for the event and 5th place for the contest.

Hollands then beat Janashia to secure his spot on the podium, leaving Janashia in fourth place. Asked about his intentions for World's Strongest Man, Hollands—the come-back King—made it clear he was in it to win it.

“No-one turns up for the participation trophy.”

And when asked why he decided to come out of retirement and return to strongman, Terry gestured at the audience and said:

“For crowds like this. Five years ago we would never have dreamed we'd have crowds like this. To get on the podium in front of this crowd is just amazing.”

Thank you strongman fans!

>>Full score table can be seen here<<

The final show down

The air was thick with anticipation, adrenaline and smelling salts for the final decider.

The whistle went, the Beast and the Mountain sprinted for the first stone. They mirrored each other step for step, stone for stone, second by nail-biting second, until Eddie fumbled on the fourth stone, giving Thor the small lead he needed for the win.

In a beautiful display of strongman solidarity, the athletes then dramatically tore off each other's shirts before Thor addressed his rival:

“I'd like to say thank you to the Beast for pushing me to the limit!”

These two men are not only pushing each other but also the boundaries of physical human limitations. We can't wait to see what happens when these behemoths lock horns again!

There's nothing quite like experiencing a strongman show live, up close and personal. The Official World's Strongest Man Qualifying Tour Final is the last chance for athletes to qualify for World's Strongest Man 2017 and will take place in Manchester along with the World Deadlift Championships on 30th September. Tickets are still available here. You don't want to miss this! 

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