After delays from multiple calamities, there is a new World’s Strongest Man for 2020. Oleksii Novikov, a 24-year-old Ukranian competing in his second WSM, took first place and the title over the weekend after the event wrapped in Bradenton, Florida. Novikov is tied as the youngest person ever to win the competition.
The World’s Strongest Man event was delayed from its typical May schedule by the early days of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic was still a problem—a few competitors slated to participate had to drop out due to positive tests—but careful planning and precautions allowed the contest to take place.
Then, the weather proved to be nearly as formidable a hurdle for the competition to clear. The first day of qualifying events was delayed after inclement conditions from Hurricane Eta, which battered the area, made the outdoor stage too dangerous.
Eventually, the field was prepared and the competition was able to take place. The adjustment meant that the rest day originally scheduled for Friday was removed, according to BarBend, so the 10 finalists had to gut their way through the entire competition without getting a full day break.
The field was missing some of the biggest names in the sport, as Hafthor Bjornsson, defending champ Martins Licis, and Rob Kearney missed the event, due to retirement and injuries. But Novikov bested four-time champion Brian Shaw of the U.S.A. and rising star Tom Stoltman of the U.K. on his way to the title. Shaw placed outside the podium, and Stoltman finished as runner-up. Canadian JF Caron took third place to round out the top competitors.
Novikov performed well throughout the events, with standout wins in the Farmer’s carry and deadlift. He broke a 37-year-old world record in the deadlift competition, pulling 537.5 kilograms (1,185 pounds) from 18 inches off the floor. (Notably, this Strongman-specific event is different from the standard deadlift mark, which remains at either 501 kg from Björnsson or 500 kg from Eddie Hall, depending on which you choose to credit).
The 2020 World’s Strongest Man competition is finished, but the TV coverage of the event will still be broadcast next month. The programming will be available on CBS Sports in December, with the full schedule to be announced “in the coming weeks,” according to a statement. A two-hour finale event will air on CBS on December 26.
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