THE countdown begins for the thrilling battle of human strength and will power as 30 athletes from across the globe arrived in the country to compete in the 41st World Strongest Man (WSM) to be staged in various Philippine tourist destinations.
The Department of Tourism (DOT), which facilitated the country’s hosting of WSM, said the popular sports television series will be shown in over 70 countries and will feature select destinations such as Rizal Park, Intramuros, Bonifacio Global City, Corregidor Island, Tagaytay City, Bataan, Davao City, and Coron Island, Palawan.
“This year’s edition of the World’s Strongest Man will not only be a thrilla in Manila as it will showcase some of our top tourist destinations and promote the country as a worthwhile venue for international sports events,” said DOT Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo.
Englishman Eddie Hall, known as ‘The Beast,’ returns to defend his crown as the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ against 29 other competitors, including former titleholders.
Hall triumphed in last year’s WSM competition held in the Republic of Botswana in South Africa. The 30-year old Hall posted a world record deadlift on a 1020-pound long bar.
Among the athletes who arrived on Tuesday were USA’s Bryan Benzel and Iceland’s Hafþór Júlíus ‘Thor’ Björnsson, who plays Ser Gregor Clegane (The Mountain) in the Game of Thrones TV series.
Those who arrived on Wednesday were Adam Derks (USA), Martin Forsmark (Sweden), Konstantine Janashia (Georgia), Dennis Kohlruss (Germany), Marius Lalas (Lithuania), Zydrunas Savickas (Lithuania), Vytautas Lalas (Lithuania), Martins Licis (USA), Krysztof Radzikowski (Poland), Robert Oberst (USA), and Rongoihaere "Rongo" Keene (Australia).
Finally, reaching Manila on Thursday were defending champion Hall, Matjaz Belsak (Slovenia), Nick Best (USA), Iron Biby (Burkina Faso), Adam Bishop (Great Britain), JF Caron (Canada), Johan Els (South Africa), Mark Felix (Great Britain), Johnny Hansson (Sweden), Graham Hicks (Great Britain), Terry Hollands (Great Britain), and Rob Kearney (USA), Mateusz Kieliszkowski, (Poland), Peiman Maheripourehir (Iran), Laurence Shahlaei (Great Britain), Brian Shaw (USA), Mikhail Shivlyakov (Russia), Aivars Smaukstelis (Latvia), and Luke Stoltman (Great Britain).
The WSM events will take place for nine days in various locations in and outside Metro Manila starting on April 28, including four qualifying days (April 28–May 1), three rest days, and two days for the finals (May 5–6).
DOT Undersecretary Kat De Castro said the competition events include truck or airplane pulling, carrying a refrigerator, lifting an Atlas stone weighing over 1,000 pounds, and lifting huge logs.
“The competition is about stamina, skill, tactics, training and strategy. Every event is designed to push the strongmen to their absolute limits, challenging not only their physical strength, but their agility and mental toughness, too,” said De Castro.