Brain Shaw wins World’s Strongest Man 2015 in thrilling final

I’ve always had my favourites when it comes to World’s Strongest Man, a sport I’ve been following for almost 4 decades, and since he burst onto the scene in 2009 it’s been Brian Shaw. I say 2009, but Brian was actually in the heats of the 2008 competition, but lost out to Arild Haugen and eventual winner Mariusz Pudzianowski in heat 3 of the qualifiers. That’s something I don’t recall, which for me is quite puzzling given my of almost encyclopaedic memory of World’s Strongest Man competitions, and deems a rewatch in the near future.

With 2 World’s Strongest Man titles under his belt already, he was one of the odds on faviourites for the 2015 competition and halfway through the final it looked like he was going to run away with it. A slight hiccup in the Super Yoke to start the final saw Shaw lose handily to Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, but wins in the Deadlift and Truck Pull put Shaw at the top with a 3 point lead, and saw 4 time winner Žydrūnas Savickas languishing back in 3rd place. I turned to my wife and said this is when Big Z usually starts to take it up a gear, and true to my prophetic words he won the Power Stairs and Log Press, with Shaw getting beaten by Björnsson in the Power Stairs too.

With just one event to go I did think that Big Z was on his way to title number 5 rather than Shaw to title number 3. Add into the equation that Björnsson has been the King of the Stones in the last 2 years and a poor performance could even see Shaw relegated to 3rd place, I was a little worried. As much as I wanted Shaw to win, I wanted Big Z to win more than Björnsson, who seems to have lost his likeability factor in the last 12 months, replaced instead with an arrogance that has maybe come from his time starring in Game of Thrones. Does ‘Thor’ now think he’s above World’s Strongest Man? I have no problem with a cocky attitude, as long as it’s warranted and isn’t so much that it starts to grate. See the late great Jón Páll Sigmarsson for the perfect combination of personality and talent. It could of course all be a case of lost in translation, so on with the show.

Shaw v Savickas in the Atlas Stones Photo Credit: theworldsstrongestman.com

Back to the final and we have just the Atlas Stones to go, as is traditional. Björnsson is up against 4th place Eddie Hall who has been a sensation in in his first appearance in the final, and can you believe it – Eddie Hall beat him! It wasn’t close either, Eddie Hall trounced the King of the Stones by almost 8 seconds, which at this point in the competition is huge. It’s now down to Shaw vs. Savickas, and whoever wins, takes the crown. On the first stone it looked pretty close, but then Shaw pulled ahead, only for Big Z to catch up. It couldn’t have been closer going into the final stone, but Brian Shaw managed to beat the legendary Lithuanian and take the title of World’s Strongest Man 2015. Worth noting that while they were battling to be champ, neither man posted a time faster than Eddie Hall, who is the 2015 King of the Stones and came 4th overall. Can this guy go all the way and give the UK it’s first World’s Strongest Man since Gary Taylor in 1993?

I watched the final with my 7 year old son, much like I did with my father at the same age, and we were both jumping off the sofa as the final came to its climax. A tradition I enjoyed as a child is now one I can enjoy every year with my own son, and maybe he’ll do the same his own children one day too. It turns out that Savickas may have been carrying a back injury into the final, which is scary considering how close he came to winning the whole thing. But don’t let that take anything from Brain Shaw, who showed once again that he is on his way to becoming one of the very best of all time, and has now equalled Bill Kazmaier’s 3 victories and joins him as the most successful American in World’s Strongest Man, as well as one of the nicest and most intelligent. I eagerly await the 2016 competition, and my annual ritual of avoiding any spoilers for months on end until the traditional holiday period broadcast.

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