In this second part of a this interview, we speak to this energetic South African Strength Athlete and former National Judo Representative, about how being bullied changed the course of his life.
In this first part of a two part interview, we speak to this energetic South African Strength Athlete and former National Judo Representative, about his life to date, and how he changed his mindset to overcome an incredibly serious injury.
For me the sport of strongman is dotted with amazing characters with fascinating stories. After having a years break from the sport, it is talking to people like Shane that makes me feel like I’ve come home by coming back to Strongman.
Shane Grierson-Jones is strong in his own right, but it’s the passion in his heart fired up by having Parkinson’s disease, and wanting to show his kids what dad can do, which is truly inspiring.
In this interview Shane tells his story, which personally I find truly inspirational.
Phil Burgess: How did you first get involved in the sport of strongman?
Shane: I used to surf and I loved it (going to start again). It’s the only time a big heavy bloke can feel graceful and get the feeling of gliding; it’s the greatest feeling catching a big wave (double overhead +) and watching people shit themselves trying to get out of your way as you charge the face of a big wave (150kg+11ft Long-board could be a little scary).
However I started getting stiff, not being able to look to my left or right when catching waves, and my paddle strength and balance was causing me problems, so I had to give it up.
After giving up surfing and having a year or so without any physical activity I was feeling heavier and unhealthy, so I decided to join a gym. About 6 months after I started at the gym, I developed a slight twitch in my right hand, and after a few months of doctors appointments, tests and specialist visits to work out why I had this tremor I was told
“YOU’VE GOT EARLY ON-SET PARKINSON’S DISEASE!”
So after much soul searching I worked out what I wanted! I wanted my kids to be proud of me, I wanted them to see me challenge myself. I knew I was strong because after a short time at the gym I was lifting heavier than younger guys who had been doing gym work for years (being older and fatter but lifting more hurt some of there ego’s).
I started looking into options of what strengths sports I could get involved in.
Who doesn’t like strongman? I looked online, and found the ASA website, and called to enquire about Strongman, and any gyms in my local area that might be able to help me train. I ended up training with Matt at Bad Wolf Barbell in Ballina. I trained with him for about a year, and he got me stronger (bench 190kg, squat 290kg and 245kg dead).
I competed for the first time at Static Monsters on the Gold Coast last year about a year after I started at the gym. Bad Wolf Barbell has since closed, and I have been without a trainer since and two operations, so my training has been affected by that this year.
But I have signed up with “The StrongMan Way” Tyson Morrissy.
So this year is going to be different!
Phil Burgess: What are your proudest strongman moments to date?
Shane: All, everything!
Being able to be part of the sport; I think at my age, having Parkinson’s, having only been training for 2 years (without specialised equipment) and competing for 1 are all proud moments.
I’ve made alot of silly mistakes that have cost me better placings at comps, but I’ve learnt from those mistakes and moved on. I feel you’re never to old to learn new things, and the mistakes and the lessons I’ve learnt are all part of the experience.
I’ve met some lifelong friends within the Strongman community who feel like family, and they have helped me more than they or I could ever have imagined, so that is also an amazing part of the sport.
Phil Burgess: I’ve read a lovely post by your wife on Facebook about you, which you should be very proud of. Family is a massive thing to you, I can tell. Is this what drives you?
Shane: My wife’s an angel, saint, perfection, and beautiful. She has been by my side for 26 years. She has kept me out of alot of trouble over the years and helped me to achieve things I would never have had the ability to do without her. She is the strongest and most humble person I will ever meet. She is a 3rd of my size, but with an inner strength I could only wish for.
We have two beautiful daughters, who we home educate, and having Parkinson’s Disease (PD) has made me appreciate the ability to spend this time with them and be involved in a more meaningful way in their lives. My wife and daughters are the reason I’ll fight PD until I’m dead.
When I wake in the morning and feel like I’ve had seizures while sleeping and every muscle and joint hurts when I move; to get up to a waiting healthy breakfast, smiles and hugs; it gives me something to fight for.
As I mentioned before, It was after some soul searching that I worked out I wanted to be able to do something my kids could be proud of. When my disease progresses and I’m stiff and struggling with the associated problems, I want them to say ”when we were younger dad use to compete in strongman comps” or “He might not look like it now but your grandfather was as strong as f#ck!”.
I don’t think I’ve done much or anything yet that they should be proud of, so I feel I’ve still got some work to do on the strongman front.
Phil Burgess: How long have you been aware that you had Parkinson’s disease, and how does it affect your daily life?
Shane: I was diagnosed at 40 (now 43), but looking back and knowing more about the disease I now think I had symptoms in my mid to late 30’s. I remember teaching and having to process what I was going to say in my head before saying it or stumbling on words. Then there were the consistent aches (like you’ve done the hardest workout in your life the day before but you didn’t exercise at all).
Parkinson’s Disease at 40 years old is a really hard kick to the balls. It hits hard; everything changes. For a while I tried to stick my head in the sand, go about life as I had before, and not gain knowledge about my illness. This made things worse, and my family took the brunt of my emotional up’s, and many downs.
Most people think Parkinson’s is a tremor, but it is so much more complex than that, and affects almost every part of my life. To name a few aspects of the disease, there is:
- muscle deterioration ( if you watch me lift my right side is much weaker)
- extreme body/muscle pain,
- speech slurring,
- lack of facial expression,
- balance issues,
- stiffness and slowing of movements and reflexes.
Because the disease is progressive, the ‘symptoms’ change and worsen, medication changes are a constant part of my life; and as a result of these medication changes I am also often affected by a variety of medication side effects (which can sometimes be as bad as the disease they are suppose to be treating).
For me at the moment, the physical effects of PD is the easier part for me to deal with. It is the depression, anxiety and other mental health aspects that I currently struggle with the most.
I have recently started to read to gain more knowledge around PD to help me understand my disease better, and this has also helped alot in dealing with what I am going through.
I realised I had been acting like I was the only one suffering from PD, when in fact it was also affecting the people close to me. My family needed to change their lifestyle to suit my illness, as they are also dealing with the effects of my illness e.g. my bad moods, poor health, and the hard days when getting out of bed is painful.
Becoming aware of how it was affecting them and being more conscious of that has made it easier for us all to come together to support each other and be more positive about what is, at the end of the day, a really shitty situation.
I used to work as a High School Teacher (Woodwork/Metalwork). I had to stop teaching earlier this year as much of what comes with Parkinson’s makes working within a classroom setting impossible. Most obviously, teaching kids how to use power tools such as drop saws and bandsaws when you have a dominant hand tremor isn’t exactly the best way to demonstrate safe work practices.
I pushed through with teaching for quite a while when it was becoming really hard for me on many different levels. It was difficult to admit to myself (and others) that I couldn’t do it anymore, and it was a blow to me to give up a profession that I really loved and worked hard to get into.
Phil Burgess: How has your life changed for the better?
Shane: Parkinson’s has changed every part of my life. So many things that I took for granted were turned upside down with this diagnosis. But I feel I am now learning and living what’s truly important in life. I had a great life before I was diagnosed, but now its like I’ve been given a time frame to do all the things I want to do – I know I don’t have time to put things off until later.
I truly appreciate my family and friends, and I try not to dwell on stupid shit anymore and instead try to focus on being happy and on what is great about life. I tell my family how much I love them and how much I enjoy their company. I take more time to talk to people and actually listen, and if people are going through a rough time I give a shit about what they are going through.
Tomorrow’s not guaranteed so I don’t go to bed angry, upset or regretting what I did or didn’t say, because tomorrow might not happen. Has it changed my life? YES, because it changed me. I’m still a smart-ass, but I feel I have come out a better person through all this and for that I’m thankful.
Phil Burgess: How does it affect your strongman competing and training?
Shane: I’m not too sure really as I never trained or competed without Parkinsons. There is the obvious weakness in my right side, and if I am having one of my bad days it can be really hard to make the effort to train (or compete), but I have to push through that.
I take a tonne of medication, and while my specialist encourages me to keep doing what I do, he admits I’m the first Parkinsons patient he has dealt with that lifts heavy stuff, so there is an unknown element there with regards to strength training and PD.
Aside from the right side weakness, I’m getting slower and stiffer as it progresses, and this does impact my performance in some strongman events which require rapid or ‘explosive’ movements.
Saying all that, with Parkinson’s if you stop exercising you’ll stiffen up like a board and you cannot come back from that with ease, so exercise is a very important part of my ‘therapy’ and life, and my doctors encourage me to keep going with regular exercise, regardless of what form that takes.
Phil Burgess: What are your next comps your looking to compete at?
Shane: I really want to try make it to the Arnolds. But I think the younger guys are too strong and quick, and while that makes beating them more enjoyable, it does make it a harder goal for me to achieve. It would be good if there was a Masters division added.
The event I truly want to aim towards is the Ultimate Strongman Masters, which is an invitational, so I guess I have my work cut out for me if I want to achieve that.
Those two events would be my major goals in strongman, and I’d be really proud if I get to achieve these. I don’t want anything to be given too me, I’m going to earn it, and will be working hard to try reach those goals before I can no longer do this sport.
Phil Burgess: I have really enjoyed this interview do you have any last words for us today?
Shane: Thank you Phil (Viking Strength) for showing interest in my story. Also thanks everyone out there in the strongman/woman community for the support and friendship that continues every time I compete and meet new people.
There are two people that I want to thank especially. These two have always been there from the day I first met them. They check in on how my life’s going when they haven’t heard from me on social media for a while. You both have been a wall to lean on when things got tough.
So to you James Darragh thank-you (even though your sister picked on me for shaking at a comp. I won’t hold that against you. Just shit-stiring). You’re a true friend and I look forward to a long friendship.
Then there is Little Matt Aichholzer. You’re a gentle giant who puts others first, you’ve taught me a couple of tricks and shared your vast knowledge and you have poor “pre-competition smack talk” but you’re one of the reasons I compete. It’s been great competing against both you.
I feel like strongman/woman is kind of an extended family. I feel I get so much from this community both physical and mentally and have given so little back. This sport has made my problems easier to deal with. So again, Thank You!
To my wife and daughters thank you for giving me a reason to battle and for never complaining about my problems (PARKINSON’S) that you inherited. You deserve my best and that’s what Ill always try to give you, even though at times it might not seem like it I am trying.
And that’s that! Thanks!
Stef Mattens would have to be in the top 5. He has created his own Strongman ranking system and even does birthday greetings for every strongman. He has pure love for the sport and the people involved. So now is the time to learn who Stef Mattens is and his views on the sport.
Phil Burgess: Who is Stef Mattens?
Stef Mattens: I’m not real good in judging myself , but people who know me would say I’m passionate in all the things I do, honest and helpful where-ever I can be.
Phil Burgess: Do you have a strength background?
Stef Mattens: I competed and refereed in powerlifting for nearly 10 years , that was fun. I travelled all over the world and met great people.
Phil Burgess: How did you get introduced to the world of strongman?
Stef Mattens: Watching WSM (World’s Strongest Man), ESM (Europe’s Strongest Man) , and Holland’s Strongest Man on TV. I got really fascinated by it, also by the magazines and books. Those were the days before internet , so information was hard to find back then.
Stef Mattens: No I haven’t , because there were hardly any competitions here in Belgium. My friends and I did a few demonstrations of truck-pulling , barrel lifting , tug of war and deadlifts. That was mostly done at charity events , schools and festivals. We just copied what we saw on TV , and tried to entertain the people who showed up.
Phil Burgess: What motivated you to start becoming the worldwide administrative coordinator of Strongman with your rankings and results?
Stef Mattens: I used to write down every result I could find , then Facebook started and I made a strongman-page posting all the results and pictures from international and national competitions worldwide.
After a while I got the idea of starting a World-Ranking , adding up points over a whole year. It took some time to figure out what comps to include and how to make a fair scoring-system, but I got good feedback and suggestions from alot of strongmen.
First year of the ranking (2015) : 670 athletes from 56 countries , after 157 comps. Then 2016 was 1193 athletes from 69 countries , after 299 comps. And now 2017 we are at 1472 athletes from 80 countries , after 258 comps , but there’s still 2 months to go.
Last year I also started a countries-ranking , and for the first time a Strongwomen-Ranking (together with Cindy Roux from South-Africa).
Phil Burgess: Have you had any disgruntled Athletes contact you?
Stef Mattens: Not directly. However a few months ago I saw a discussion on Facebook between some American athletes , bashing the ranking because they were not in it , and they beat guys last year who were ranked higher now.
So, I asked them, where and when they competed in 2017? Two of them didn’t and one did some exhibitions and a gym-competition. I explained to them it’s a ranking from January 01 to December 31 , and it doesn’t include local gym stuff. Not competing means no points, I think that’s obvious, or at least it should be.
Phil Burgess: What has the feedback from the Athletes and Promoters been like in general?
Stef Mattens: Promoters are thankful they can advertise and promote their events on the page. They often ask me to help them get in contact with athletes from other countries.
Athletes frequently ask me where they can compete on an international level outside their country and who they should contact. They are happy to see a worldwide ranking and their name in it. It even helped some to find sponsors !
The higher ranked guys are eager to score points and climb some places. Athletes also write to me to tell me how their comp went, and what was good/not good, or how they got injured.
Phil Burgess: From what you’ve said the ranking favors those competitors who compete more frequently rather than purely the strongest? Would you agree?
Stef Mattens: Yes and No.
If you look at the top 20 now, those are actually the strongest at this time. Sadly , injuries & not competing moves you down the ranks.
However, the biggest comps have the most points. National and Regional comps score less. Consistency throughout the whole year is indeed better than doing only 1 or 2 comps a year.
The scoring system is fairly balanced , not favouring anybody. I carefully look at the results I get : who competed , how many athletes , what were the events , the weights used , who refereed..I ask for feedback from the athletes, look at video’s , pictures..before I attribute the points..
To avoid any speculation I don’t give a list upfront of the scoring system, but only after I examined the results. The rankings show who competed regularly and did well. Let’s say : the strongest of the current year.
Phil Burgess: What do you do when your head isn’t occupied in the world of strongman?
Stef Mattens: First of all , I have a full-time job working at the swimming-pool in my home-town. Besides that, I take care of my father. Since my mother passed away last year, I have to cook and make sure my dad is ok. We’re a bit lost now , but try to make the best of it.
What more do I do ? Well , I have a few other pages on Facebook : Wrestling , Sports & Movies , Belgian athletes , Beauty & Fitness and a Cycling results-page. Not forgetting giving birthday shout-outs to strongmen & other athletes takes some time too.
Days are too short for me.
Phil Burgess: If you could have dinner with any 5 Strongmen or Strongwomen, who would they be and why?
Stef Mattens: Only 5 ? Difficult to make a choice , because there’s so many people I like. The 5 would be Bill Kazmaier , Laurence Shahlaei , Magnus Ver Magnusson , Gerrit Badenhorst , and Donna Moore !
Bill because he’s a legend and I grew up watching him on TV. Mr Intensity , and I’m sure he has many great stories to tell from all those years.
Laurence because he’s a true gentleman, very friendly and helpful. I always enjoy watching him compete.
Magnus because he’s a Viking, and I’m fascinated by that. One of the smartest strongmen ever, and amazing as an athlete , referee and promoter.
Gerrit , because I met him at a WPC World Championship in Italy, ages ago. Great deadlifter , funny guy and he can sing too ! Speaks South-African which is similar to the Flemish I speak.
With these 5 at the table it will no doubt be a fun and entertaining evening !
Phil Burgess: Who is your favourite strongman or strongwoman and why?
Stef Mattens: That’s a real tough one. Strongman would have to be Jon-Pall Sigmarsson . He was a great person , and inspired so many people. Fast , strong , explosive , he had it all. His battles with Bill Kazmaier , Geoff Capes , OD Wilson are epic. Passed away much too soon , very sad day when he left us.
Strongwoman : Donna Moore , of course !
Phil Burgess: How is the sport going in your native Belgium?
Stef Mattens: It’s still growing. We have alot to thank to Jimmy Laureys (6x national champ & WSM + SCL competitor) . Since 2008 we have a national championship , and more athletes , more competitions every year , ladies competing also .
However , I would like to see more youngsters getting involved , but soccer is still the number 1 “sport” here.. I do my best to promote strongman here . Wish I had more time.
Phil Burgess: Early prediction… Who is going to be World’s Strongest Man 2018?
Stef Mattens: Impossible to make a correct prediction on that. Depends on who will compete and what the events will be . Ok , my vote goes to..Hafthor Bjornsson , I think 2018 will be his year. After placing 3x 2nd + 3x 3rd he wants to win it badly !
Won’t be easy. Brian Shaw is looking for revenge from this year and craves a fifth victory to tie Mariusz Pudzianowski’s record. Big Z could also go for a fifth title , but then he should be injury-free from now on.. Eddie Hall won’t defend his title he says.
Outsiders with a chance to win would be JF Caron , Martins Licis , Konstantine Janashia and let’s not forget Laurence Shahlaei and Terry Hollands. It will be a good battle !
Phil Burgess: Do you still believe WSM is the pinnacle of the sport or are the rivals like Ultimate Strongman, SCL , WSF and Arnolds of more important now?
Stef Mattens: Very good question ! WSM has always been the measuring stick. From 1977 on it was the competition with the most exposure , and the most recognisable for people. Winners became legends and known worldwide.
However , it was a 1 day (now 2 or 3) comp , and the strongest did not always win, depending on injury , sickness , form of the day.
The Arnold Classic is the heaviest stuff , static events , huge weights. No running or endurance type events , it’s power all the way.
SCL (Strongman Champions League) has a combination of everything , very well organised , but the best athletes don’t always compete there , depending on where it is hosted.
Ultimate Strongman has huge crowds attending , and most of the top athletes competing. It’s still growing bigger.
WSF (World Strongman Federation) is doing alot to get worldwide coverage , involving more countries and new athletes.
All those federations / organisations do their very best to make the sport bigger and attract new people and new sponsors. Giants Live is also real good ! But , in the end , as Bill Kazmaier’s t-shirt once said : ” there can only be one World’s Strongest Man” !
Phil Burgess: How would you improve the sport if you had a magic wand?
Stef Mattens: So many things I would like to do if I had more time, and money of course.
For example, creating a Pro-league and an amateur-league worldwide. For both host 1 comp every month with the 20 best athletes , and a final with the top 2 of those monthly-comps . Same for u105 & u90 .
Host WSM differently. All national champions are qualified + 2 extra qualifying events. that would amount to 80 or 90 athletes in total where you have the strongest man of each country present. Then have a big tournament with preliminary rounds , quarter & semi-finals & final. Having that many countries represented can boost a bigger coverage and broadcasting in many countries.. But I guess that’s a dream.
I would also encourage (and help) each country to have it’s own national ranking, so that athletes can see where they stand.
Phil Burgess: Do you have any other strongman related plans that you are working on, with the rankings?
Stef Mattens: Yes, if time allows it, I will start a separate world-ranking for u105 and u90 next season. I hope to improve the Women’s world ranking also.
I also plan on making a few changes with the rankings : not a 1 year ranking but a continuous ranking. Haven’t figured that out completely yet, but I’m working on it.
Phil Burgess: Any final thoughts?
Stef Mattens: I am very thankful for this interview , I really appreciate this alot !
Feeling blessed with all the great people I got to know through this sport, and I hope I can continue doing what I do.
Phil Burgess: Thank-you for your time and what you have given to the sport.
From 9 to 11 April, held in India, this was a historical event for the development of World Strongmen Federation, and the sport of Strongman in India. As the first congress meeting of WSF, it brought together representatives from 20 countries. It was approved by the new president of the WSF, Pradeep Medhok Baba (India) and Vice President – Kaizzad Capadia, and the development plan has been built.
There was also a Master class from two Olympic champions in weightlifting – Leonid Taranenko (Belarus) and Dmitry Berestov (Russia)
In the World Cup Event there were 13 athletes representing 12 countries.
- Max-Repetitions Over-head Log Lift (135 Kgs Log)
- Arm over arm ( 15m -5 tn)
- Truck Loading Medley (5 Meter Distance, 4 Ft Height Truck Bed, 5 odd objects weighing approximately 120-150 kilos – Plough, Anvil, Atlas Stone, Chain & Anchor)
- Farmers Walk for distance (135 Kgs per hand)
- 20 Meter Bus Pull (16tn)
- Hold Car Dead-Lift
1. Mark Felix (England)- 68,5
2. Tarmo Mitt (Estonia)- 59,5
3. Mikhail Shivlyakov (Russia)- 53
4. Rolands Gulbis (Latvia)- 50,5
5. Tomasz Kowal (Poland)-48,5
6. Jarek Nowacki (Poland)- 39,5
7. Mathew MacCoy (Ireland)- 39
8. Sergey Trubitsin (Uzbekistan)- 37,5
9. Tim Enersen (Norway)- 33,5
10. Dalius Ziminskas (Lithuania)- 33
11. Vostan Gevorgian (Armenia)- 22,5
12. Sergey Vachinski ( Belarus )- 17
13. Zaki Khan (Malaysia) – 7
Next WSF World Cup planned in Minsk, Belarus on July
Indian world cup of stick pulling according to the WSF and World Ethnosport Society (symmetrical grip).
- Dalius Ziminskas (Lithuania)
- Sergey Trubitsin (Uzbekistan)
- Rolands Gulbis (Latvia)
As Special invitees, the following legendary athletes were the Guests of Honour:
- Magnus Ver Magnusson (4-Times Worlds Strongest Man): star Chief Referee
- Glenn Ross (Famous World Strongman): star Referee
- Leonid Taranenko (Olympic Champion Weight-Lifter with a yet unbroken 266 kg World record in Clean, also on the IOC)
- Dmitry Berestov (Olympic Champion Weight-Lifter)
One of the guys I speak to regularly and greatly respect is Eben Le Roux, the currently Southern Hemisphere’s Strongest Man, and Australia’s Strongest Man.
In this interview he speaks candidly about himself as an athlete and also the sport in general.
PB: I rate you in the top 5 greatest Australian Strongmen ever, what would you say to that?
Eben Le Roux: Well honestly if that is accurate,and I don’t know if it is,it would be an honour to be on that list. With athletes with the likes of Bill Lyndon,Nathan Jones,Derek Boyer etc etc. It’s a big deal and I appreciate the question.
PB: Is Eben Le Roux over the hill in his Strongman career or is your best still to come?
Eben Le Roux: This is a hard one to answer because I’ve had mixed feelings about this. Let’s be honest Phil, strongman in Australia has been suffering,we have been pretty directionless.
I mean we can all see that the potential is there but it just won’t take off….,so am I gonna pull the pin, well I’ve been hanging around hoping for something juicy around the corner.
I keep saying I’m gonna retire but then I start hitting pb’s and it’s full steam ahead again haha,let’s see how I go at the Arnold’s and how the body feels afterwards!
PB: What are your next competitions, and do you know who and what you will be facing at the Arnolds?
Eben Le Roux: At this stage the Arnold’s of course, then maybe the record breakers in Adelaide, after that I got a little strength stunt that I’m doing with an Australian celeb( it’s a secret). In the meantime I’m sure something will pop up, let’s just say I’m hoping for an invite to a specific comp in the UK.
With the events I can’t say 100% and also I want to give the organisers a chance to announce it officially first.
I’ve also heard that a handful of the best in the world is coming down under, records will be broken for sure,that is all I can say for now.
PB: If you could improve the sport in anyway how would you do it?
Eben Le Roux: Improving the sport…. well I know this is in the pipeline but we need a solid federation, look at the NAS North America Strongman fed,it’s working. We can certainly give that a go,but let’s start small, I think we need to educate the young and upcoming guys about what we are planning on doing,what the direction is and what will be expected from them.
There are already promoters putting alot of work in to run regular comps,and we all appreciate that!
I am always willing to give advice to younger guys,( most don’t listen haha) but it’s all about training correctly and sticking with it I reckon,there are no short cuts!
I’ve also found that social media can sometimes do more damage than good, those old strongmen we all look up to so much weren’t posting how strong they are on FACEBOOK,they spent that time training!
The only way to grow the sport will be with discipline, meaning everyone is on the same page and know what is coming next.
PB: What will you do sportwise once you finish competing?
Eben Le Roux: I am actually interested in a few things.
I really like discus and shot put,so I might try that for fun! But hey I don’t think I’ll ever stop lifting!
I’ll definitely drop my body weight a bit and start working on those explosive lifts, well let’s see what I end up doing, I don’t know phil,I’ll need your advice! (Laughing)
PB: How does your wife Marlien support you in the sport?
Eben Le Roux: Well marlien does everything!
She’s the one that cooks my meals, that’s alot of work, just ask the guys at my work, it looks like I’m having a picnic at work when it’s lunch time.
Then there is the mental side of it, she knows how to help me stay focused when things are not working out, I think she knows more about the sport than most of the guys I compete with (laughing), she really is an amazing woman!
PB: Which one of the Australian and New Zealand Rat Pack (under 30’s guys) impresses you the most and you think has the greatest potential from what you have already seen?
Eben Le Roux: Well I’ve said this to Colm Wolfe a few times,he has got insane potential!
He will go far. And then there is Rongo Keene who has proven his strength with his great pressing,I know he is training hard and he will be one to watch.
What about young Coco!, I’m curious to see what he will do in a few years, definitely a quiet achiever!
In the meantime there are a few lighter guys that are coming up fast and will be our next generation of strongmen.
PB: Who excites you the most in the sport of Strongman and why?
Eben Le Roux: The most exciting and also my idol, I have made up my mind now, is Mark Felix! I met him at WSM.
He is a great guy! A fantastic athlete, but what I love about him is how calm he is,even before he will be lifting, and then he will just blow your mind with his incredible strength!
I was lucky enough to hang with him for a bit at WSM and what a true gentleman.
PB: What obstacles have you had in your career and how did you overcome them?
Eben Le Roux: I’ve had so many obstacles I won’t know where to start and we will be here all week, but my worst was probably my back injury years ago.
I was out of it for about a year, I thought I was never gonna be able to lift anything again but I recovered and slowly started lifting again. It took me a long time to get back to a 250 deadlift, now I’m hanging around 400 lol,I think I’m doing ok!
Then another obstacle that I’m sure a lot of people underestimate is when I migrated to Australia from South Africa, it really threw me back, as there was no time to train and I lost a ton of weight and strength. It’s not easy when you know no-one but I can only thank my wife for being so strong and helping me achieve my goals, in the meantime I’ve met some great guys and that helps a lot.
Finding a good place to train,also equipment can be painful, but luckily enough I’ve had some great people help me, today I’ve got guys like Jamie Christensen from PTC Sumner park helping me heaps at his gym!
PB: Thanks Eben
At Viking Strength we regularly talk to the top names in the sport, however sometimes competitors who may have not yet scaled the summits can be just as interesting to talk to. Here I spent 10 mins with Italian Strongman Competitor Angelo Di Filippo.
PB: So how did you get involved in the sport of strongman?
Angelo Di Filippo: i am 29 years old…i am an ex weightlifter and hammer thrower…i start train when i was 9 years old with martial arts, and I am a black belt in karate and judo.
I approached the world of weights when I turned 11 years old…..I competed in the Olympic lifts, but I have always loved, since a kid the brute force events…..in Italy we have a Strongman federation only since 2012,but I was training by simulating tests strongman already long before.
When i was hammer thrower I was among the best athletes in the Italian youth. Over the years that I competed in Weightlifting, I have always placed among the top 5 best Italian athletes
I really like the strongman, mainly because it favors brute force,and brute force is my main quality.
PB: So what Weight Division do you compete in?
Angelo Di Filippo: I compete in the under 96kg class. In italy the weight class is under 96kg and over 96kg…my best results is 4th place in 2012…but i have a problem, most competitions take place in northern Italy…and unfortunately I am not often able to participate because of the distance from where I live.
PB: So how well known is the sport of strongman to the public in Italy?
Angelo Di Filippo: In recent years it is becoming better known,but unfortunately it is still not as famous as other countries. The current Italian champion in my category is Angelo Iannetta
PB : How do you train for Strongman and what’s your favourite event?
Angelo Di Filippo: I work out in different ways,using both the weight lifting exercises and those of strongman.
I particularly like the partial movements, I use alot in my workouts because I think they are very valid to build core strength.
I also like doing grip training and banding….I think the grip is very important for a strongman.
My favorite event is the circus dumbbell for max…. I have a personal record of 75 kg…In italy at this moment this is a very good lift even in the higher weight class.
In Italy we are still early,and it was difficult for us athletes in the early periods also to find the equipment, and we have adapted. Fortunately things are changing, and we too are coming up to par with other countries. The road is long, but the passion of us Italians is strong…strong like a strongman.
In the 2015 season Alana Curnow was one of the most successful and determined strongman athletes in Australia. Then she topped it with a record Atlas Stone Lift of 138.2kg. So it was great to have 10 mins to catch up with her..
PB: So we know Alana the Strongwoman, when you’re not doing Strongman what do you do?
Alana Curnow: I always feel like I should have a more exciting answer for this question, my jobs pretty awesome , I work for Ben and jerry’s but that’s kinda where the excitement ends .. I think anyway . I’m a mother of 3 and I work full time .. so house work and KPIs lol and if I’m lucky catching up with a few friends.
PB: Tell us about the daily life of Alana?
Alana Curnow: 7 am wake up , usually oats for breakfast , supplements vitamin C , magnesium, fish oil , MSM . Pack my car , decide what area I’m working , go to my rep thang for 8 hours, eat my prepped lunch and not be tempted by the thought of ice-cream for lunch .
Later I head to the Hut , train for usually at least 2 hours . Get home at about 7 . Cook dinner , feed animals 2 dogs and 2 cats , have supplements , shower, bed .
PB: Did you do many sports when you were younger?
Alana Curnow: I did a few different sports soccer, basketball and I loved Athletics at school. I was also a very competitive horse rider .
PB: You are now Australia’s top female Stone Lifter, is this event your favourite?
Alana Curnow: It’s a love hate thing . I like it more now with stone sleeves !
I had been training without them but then when I tried out my 4 Armor sleeves .. it was a game changer . I could train stones more frequently.
PB: How often do you train the stones? Any tips?
Alana Curnow: At the moment, once a fortnight . Leading into that record stone lift it was weekly . I’ve found that volume on stones was very effective for increasing my max .
My Tip , train lighter to a higher platform to build your extension technique and strength.
PB: Your progress is really impressive, what do you use to help your recovery?
Alana Curnow: I’m lucky enough to be sponsored by MASS nutrition Kawana , so they are always hooking me up with the best supps . Vitamin C and MSM and creatine really assist with recovery .. and nurofen .
PB: You mentioned MSM, and in previous conversations you have spoken highly of it, can you explain more?
Alana Curnow: MSM is a supplement I sourced out for my horses having one old boy with clicking stiff joints . After seeing this improve I started to look into this supplement more . It turns out this form of sulphur is essential for healthy cell development .
Biologically active sulfur is one of the most critical nutrients for our bodies to remain youthful and energetic. As we age, along with a diet deficient in essential nutrients, our bodies become stiff, our cells become rigid, and our overall energy begins to rapidly decelerate.
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is an organic sulfur compound that’s naturally derived during the earth’s rain cycle. Sulfur is present in many natural unprocessed foods, but it’s quickly lost during the cooking process. MSM is gaining a lot of attention due to the recent focus on longevity and anti-aging technologies. Here’s a a few impressive benefits that MSM delivers:
1. Improves skin health and complexion
MSM is necessary for collagen production. Sagging skin and wrinkles, as well as dry, cracked skin are all developed through a loss of collagen. MSM works together with Vitamin C to build new, healthy tissues. MSM can normalize collagen formation and radically improve skin health.
2. Improves flexibility
Research has shown that MSM is highly effective in improving joint flexibility. Additionally, it helps to produce flexible skin and muscle tissue. This leads to an increase in overall flexibility due to a restoration of the “juiciness” in the tissues.
3. Detoxifies the body
One of the most important features of MSM is that it makes your cells morepermeable. This means that it allows toxins and metabolic waste products to easily be moved out of the cells, while essential nutrients and hydration can be moved in. It’s a calcium phosphate dissolver, so it has a remarkable ability to break up the bad calcium that’s at the root of degenerative diseases.
4. Strengthens hair and nails
Collagen and keratin and both critical for the production of healthy hair and nails. MSM is a bonafide “beauty mineral” that provides the sulfur needed to produce collagen and keratin. It’s also highly noted to contribute to exceptional strength and thickness of the hair and nails, which can be noticed in just a couple weeks of consistent use.
5. Accelerates healing
Lactic acid and other byproducts cause pain and soreness in the body. MSM increases the ability of the body to eliminate waste products at the cellular level. This speeds recovery and frees up more energy for rebuilding.
PB: Thank-you for answering these questions and we wish you all the best at the Arnolds in March 2016.
There was hot weather and hot battles to determine who is the strongest.
14 athletes from 13 countries, 6 hard events. New Polish star – Mateusz won pretty handedly with 4 out of 6 events and seems to be an athlete to watch out for in the future.
1. Mateusz Kieliszkowski (Poland)
2. Sergey Trubitsin (Uzbekistan)
3. Dimitar Savatinov (Bulgaria)
4-5. Oleksandr Lashyn (Ukraine), Evgenii Markov (Russia)
6. Hamza Primov (Uzbekistan)
7. Ari Gunnarsson (Iceland)
8. Tarmo Mitt (Estonia)
9. Rolands Gulbis (Latvia)
10. Sergey Vachynski (Belarus)
11. Alexey Pisarevsky (Kazakhstan)
12. Shurat Alihonov (Uzbekistan)
13. Sergiu Mirzenco (Moldova)
14. Antanas Abrutis (Lithuania)