2012 South Africa’s Strongest Man – Tristen O’Brien

Tristen O'Brien Strongman
Truck Pull

Tristen O’Brien was recently crowned 2012 South Africa’s Strongest Man.

South Africa is a country renowned for the Springboks, the national rugby union team. One of their stand-out features is the size and strength of the players.

Tristen O'Brien Strongman
Truck Pull

These characteristics are perfect for the sport of Strongman, and yep you guessed it, Tristen was a former rugby player…but lets find out more.

Phil Burgess: You recently won South Africa’s Strongest Man, what does it mean to you to win this title?

Tristen O’Brien: It’s a dream come true, we all work hard to achieve the goals we want and this was definitely my first major goal.

Starting out you see the top guys and it looks almost impossible to get there, so to achieve the title in four years meant alot to me

Phil Burgess: How did you get into the sport of strongman?  Did you play any sports prior?

Tristen O’Brien:  I was a rugby player and started training in the gym just to be a little stronger on the field.

I met a guy by the name of Vuyani who showed me a few things and entered me in my first comp. From that first competition there was no way I would turn back.

Taking the Car for a Walk

Phil Burgess: How much do you weigh, and how tall are you?

Tristen O’Brien:  Currently I’m 141kg and 1,85m

Phil Burgess:  Do you follow a strict diet, or is your eating plan more relaxed?

Tristen O’Brien:  I never used to follow a diet but have seen the importance of nutrition so have started to focus on my eating now.

Phil Burgess: What is the most important lesson that you have learnt in the sport of strongman?

Tristen O’Brien:  For me it’s a major respect factor.  I know the work that has to go in, so I respect the athletes as well as guys starting out.

We were all there once…

Phil Burgess: Is Strongman increasing in popularity in South Africa?

Tristen O’Brien: Strongman is definitely growing in SA.  There are alot of new faces as well as the 105 division.

I host a training camp every Saturday and just through that I can see the growth.

Training the Axle Press

Phil Burgess:  How often do you train in the gym, and how often do you train the events?

Tristen O’Brien: I train Monday to Thursday in the gym and events most sat and Sundays.

Recently I’ve been able to incorporate my events into my gym sessions, as the equipment is in the gym which is really helping me up my level.

Phil Burgess: What is the next big competition which you will be competing at?

Tristen O’Brien:  My next major comp is Southern Hemisphere’s Strongest Man which I think will be held in Australia in March 2013.

Phil Burgess: What were the events in South Africa’s Strongest Man competition and which of these did you find the easiest and which the hardest, and why?

Tristen O’Brien:

Day 1:

  • Sand-bag Medley 4x130kg bags loaded onto a pedestal, 10m away each.
  • Yoke 420kg over 20m
  • Overhead Medley 95kg Circus Dumbell, 120kg Keg, 145kg Log, 140kg Axle
  • Tyre Flip for 8 flips

Day 2:

  • 340kg Car Deadlift for Reps
  • 350kg Frame Carry 20m
  • 155kg Viking Press for Reps
  • Atlas Stones 130kg/140kg/150kg/160kg/160kg
For me pressing is my strongest event, so I won both the Overhead Medley and the Viking Press.  I came 2nd in the Frame and Deadlift, which is also a favourite event of mine.  
Yoke however is my weak link and I am not a fan.
Log Pressing..

Phil Burgess: Which Strongman past competitor or current do you respect the most and why?

Tristen O’Brien:  I’m a massive fan of Misha, he is a supremely all-rounded athlete and in my eyes one of the best.

Phil Burgess:  Finally, Do you train with any other top South African Strongmen, or do they all train in separate gyms?

Tristen O’Brien:  I am trained by Ettiene Smith who was also a long time hero. He is incredibly strong and an all-rounded athlete and i believe he definitely sets the bench mark.

We live a distance away so train in separate gyms, however we train events together most weekends.