Interview with Colin Bryce – Worlds Strongest Man Commentator and Head Referee

Colin Bryce - Worlds Strongest Man Head Referee and Commentator

Colin Bryce may not be the first name that comes to your head when you think about the worlds strongest man competition, but as the Head Referee and one of the commentary team he plays a huge role.  He has been involved with the competition for many years and has met many of the past and present strongest men in the

Colin Bryce - Worlds Strongest Man Head Referee and Commentator
Colin Bryce - Worlds Strongest Man Head Referee and Commentator

world.  I had been told by a couple of Worlds Strongest Man competitors that I should interview Colin Byrce, so here is the interview we did in January 2012.

What is your role for Worlds Strongest Man, and what duties do you have to perform in your job?

Colin Bryce:    I have a few roles with Worlds Strongest Man.    During the year I help organise the Giants Live Qualifying Tour. This involves a lot of travelling and organising of contests. The tour is looking to unearth new talent as well as create international contests for the top athletes.

When we get to the actual Worlds Strongest Man contest in September my role changes to Head Referee. By this point all the organisation is done and its down to the athletes and set up crew to do what they do best. I just have to make sure that all the athletes play within the rules and rules we have created are implemented.

My final role is as the UK colour commentator for the finished shows. I have been commentating the shows with Paul Dickenson this past year which is a real pleasure. He is a very sharp witted commentator to work with.

What is the funniest thing you have seen at a Giants Live or Worlds Strongest Man Qualifier?

Colin Bryce:   I am going to embarrass an old friend here.

It was when Derek Boyer, having completed the deadlift in LA in 2007, then made a speech telling his partner how much he loved her.   Sadly for Derek he hadn’t read the rules properly and he was still holding the bar after the seventh and final lift.    His time should have been about 25 seconds.

He finally put the bar down at around 40 seconds and lost a huge amount of points. It went from being a romantic moment to one of tragic comedy. I think he can laugh about it now.

 What do you believe is the biggest challenge for Worlds Strongest Man, and the sport of Strongman in general?

Colin Bryce:   I believe the World needs more promoters. More risk takers. More action men.   It very easy to sit back and say how a contest should be run. Its a whole different story getting off of your backside and putting your money where your mouth is.

What’s the stupidist thing you’ve seen a competitor do?

Colin Bryce:   I think its Derek again!    Although Regin Vagadal diving for the line in 1996 at the Worlds Strongest Man in Mauritus with 365 kilo superyoke on his back was pretty dim witted.

He lost his mind for a second and thought he was in a 100m race.     He lost a lump of his head to the tarmac that day.

What strongman past or present asks the most questions about events?

Colin Bryce:  Raivis Vidzis wins that hands down. I used to limit him to three questions a day at Worlds Strongest Man comps.

Great guy, but when contest day came he was a nervous wreck.    I must also say that Brian Shaw asks a lot of questions.    However, they are normally months before.    He wants to get his training perfect for every contest.    No stone is left unturned with Brian.

What is the hardest event to set up and why?

Colin Bryce:    A proper World Record attempt on something major such as the log.    These contests are hard  because you need the men to be firing on all cylinders.    However, when you get the ingredients right such as in Mohegan Sun when Derek Poundstone did the Apollons Axle World Record, its well worth it, as it brings the house down.  

You need to get big prize money, big crowds, top athletes, perfect kit and then hope the men perform. It isn’t easy to get the right mix.

What is your favourite event and why?

Colin Bryce:   I love horrifically hard medleys.    Such as sack loads through the water and sand.  Its nauseating to do and creates great drama as men begin to crumble.    

On the flip side – a light medley is one of the worst events.  Its not taxing and no big weights have been moved.

 Who is your all time favourite strongman and why?

Colin Bryce:  As the current referee of WSM i will avoid saying anyone ion the last ten years. I dont like to appear to favour anyone. So looking back in time it has to be one of the original guys. Jon Pall Sigmarrson was way ahead of his time.

He was very strong and wildly charismatic. I had the pleasure of knowing him for a few years in the Eighties. Likewise, Kaz (Bill Kazmier) had a jet propulsion and animal strength that has not really been replicated.    Kaz is also great company,  I can listen to the World according to Bill Kazmaier all evening long over a beer or two.   He is a very funny guy.

Have you ever had any events go badly wrong? And what happened?

Colin Bryce:   For me the disasterous car flipping contest at Worlds Strongest Man 1997 in Morocco was the worst.

The event destroyed Mark Philippi’s knee.   The set director made some horrible misjudgements when creating the set and it was my job to spot him with a barrel.   On the second flip he got crushed under the car as i was unable to squeeze the barrel under the front tyre as planned.    This was meant to be the catching system for the event.

It really haunts me that afternoon that he got hurt so badly and I was there to spot him.  I wish I could have got the barrel under, but there just wasn’t room. I will not explain all the details, as it will only involve finger pointing and its 14 years after the event.  

The only amazing thing about that day was I really did lift a car of an injured person. A bit like the story of a granny lifting a car off of someone. Well I lifted the side of a one tonne car with relative ease under such terrifying stress.

Im glad to say Mark and I are still good friends to this day. So he certainly never blamed me.

What do you love the most about the Worlds Strongest Man competition?

Colin Bryce:  I love extreme strength.  I was a fairly strong man myself which makes my understanding of their ability even more pronounced.  The top guys just take it to a whole different level.  Its just stunning to see what the human body can do.

Which Strongman is the easiest to interview and why?

Colin Bryce:  Derek Poundstone.  

You just say hello and he will talk for the next 15 minutes.    By the time he draws breath you have enough for your tv show!

Who do you think will be the top 3 finishers at the 2012 Worlds Strongest Man and why?

Colin Bryce: It would be unfair for me to say. I have too close an affiliation to the mechanism that selects the events to suggest a winner.   I will say though that it’s no secret that Brian Shaw and Zydrunas are on a different level at the moment……….


  1. Very interesting interview,good read!,loved the part about Derek holding on to the deadlift,i saw that,he would’ve won that event and never dropped it so ended up like 4th!

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