Jimmy Laureys is the current 2012 and 5 times in total – Belgium’s Strongest Man.
His crusade as you will see is not just to become a top competitor, but to also raise the profile of the sport in his country.
Phil Burgess: You have won Belgium’s Strongest Man 5 years in a row from 2008 to 2012? Which one of these victories meant the most to you and why?
Jimmy Laureys: For me it is 2008. Because I became the first ever winner of Belgium’s Strongest Man in history.
Strongman existed before, but very regional, like the strongest man of Flanders, Antwerp, Brussels… but never of Belgium.
You can imagine I’m proud about that! And then winning it 5 times in a row, its a great feeling!
I’m hoping and fighting to be Belgium’s strongest man 10 times in a row. I would like to see who can beat that!
Phil Burgess: How did you get involved in the sport of strongman?
Jimmy Laureys: I began training at age of 15 and got into martial arts and Powerlifting. I was 4 years ‘Junior Power Lifting Champion’ in Belgium, in a row.
Then I read a post on an online forum, asking if there were strongmen in Belgium.
I knew the sport from television and always wanted to try it. The post came from Holland and I signed myself up for the competition with some big heavy guys. I never did it before but came 2nd in my first strongman competition.
From then on I knew what my true calling was: Strongman! Also to promote it in my country to make it a well known sport.
And by doing that I got the attention of the organisers of the Strongman Champions League. They invited me to compete, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Phil Burgess: I have read that you are very competitive and are known by some as the “Belgian Beast”, tell us more..?
Jimmy Laureys: ha ha, yes I am called that sometimes. The “Belgian Beast” was given to me by the Netherlands spectators in the beginning and it stuck on me like glue.
Now they still compare me with a beast; in competition a wild and powerful one, and when its done the Fluffy one from “Monsters inc” Sully hahaha.
When in competition it’s for life and death, but otherwise I just like to have fun.
Phil Burgess: What is the worst injury you have suffered? How did it happen, and how long was the recovery, and has your training had to change since?
Jimmy Laureys: In the beginning of my sport career, I had a motorcycle accident and couldn’t walk for more than a year. But it didn’t keep me from entering the gym and keep trying to better myself.
After 2 and a half years of rehabilitation, I amazed many doctors by doing my sport again (and even win!) and doing great in my competitions.
They told me I could never run, sprint , squat, or do anything else with my foot and right leg again, I sure proved them wrong!
I told myself I would find a way and I did.
And other injuries… I had some ruptured muscles, and some little injuries.
I also ruptured my left biceps off, clean from the bone. But everything is 101% again. Recently my shoulder got operated, but it’s recovering.
Phil Burgess: Apart from winning Belgium’s Strongest Man in 2012, what other competitions have you competed in this year, and what have been your results?
Jimmy Laureys: I competed in Champions League in Germany, the FIBO, where I came 9th, spraining my ankle whilst running the yoke.
Then there was China, where I got 12th out of the 20 athletes. We were all close together in the ranking, and that’s the only 2 comps this year.
My shoulder had been hurting for a long time, so I needed the operation.
2012 was my worst year in competition.
Phil Burgess: What are your goals in the sport of Strongman, both short term and long term?
Short Term – First recover from my shoulder operation and recollect my points for the Champions League, get better, harder and bigger!
I’m training again 3 to 4 times a week and it’s getting better. I’m looking forward to competing again!
Long Term – Nationally, I want to get the sport more noticed and famous.
Maybe open my own gym if possible, that’s always been a big dream.
Internationally , become one of the best in the world… that’s every athletes dream I think! And I hope to leave an impression or a legacy with my name on it!
Phil Burgess: What is your favorite strongman event and what skills or attributes do you have which help you excel in this?
Jimmy Laureys: My favorite events are Atlas Stones, Tire Flip and the Farmers Walk.
I also like medleys, yoke and log.
Dead-lift is always spectacular, but I think Atlas Stones and Farmer’s made me most famous.
I have a very firm hand grip that helps me with farmers, super strong legs and very strong back.
Due to my height and weight I’m still very explosive and fast, which stuns people most of the time.
I don’t use any specific training approaches, I train very old-school, and if I find something that works I stick to it.
Phil Burgess: There seems to be an incredible amount of torn biceps injuries in strongmen, why do you think this is? And what things/events do you think the organizations running the sport should change?
Jimmy Laureys: I think it’s not the muscle that is weak, but the attachment to the muscle. Most of the time strongman who injure their biceps were doing Tire Flip and Stones in my experience.
I don’t think they really have to change the events, but they keep making it heavier every year. If you look back 10 years the weights have increased alot. If you look how we started out and where we are now…
There are a few good athletes who are coming up but don’t get the chance to compete because it’s getting crazy heavy sometimes!
Phil Burgess: When you are not training and competing, what do you do as a job, and what do you do to relax?
Jimmy Laureys: I’m just a normal factory/warehouse employee like everyone else.
In Belgium sponsorships are hard to find, especially in my sport. I have my own federation but it’s a non-profit one. I give lessons also to people who want to get to know the sport or gain strength.
In my spare time I like to go to the movies, have fun with my fiancee and kids and play X box 360.
Phil Burgess: Finally, any advice you would like to share with any aspiring young strongmen?
- Work hard, train hard!
- Get bigger, get better!
- Use your head, don’t just do.
- Listen to your body and take rest whenever necessary!
- Do everything that is necessary to promote the Sport and put it in the spotlight.
- And give our sport a good impression to the rest of the world.