Britain’s strongest man in 2006, Oli Thompson’s career was put dramtically on hold in 2007 when a deadlift training session resulted in a torn bicep. It seems Oli’s sights are firmly set on regaining his title in 2008.
I caught up with Oli and his training partner Scott Reid (current Britain’s Strongest Man in the 105kg weight class) during a recent training camp at the Ministry of Muscle, to find out how his recovery was coming along and how his plans for 2008 were mapping out.
So Oli, how long have you been competing in Strongman?
I’ve been competing for, let me think, six years now.
And did you start off in novice events?
So how did you gauge your ability before entering that? Did you train with experienced guys or did you just think “I’m strong enough to do this” and got on with it?
I was only training in the gym, I hadn’t done any of the events before. I went just for fun really, to find out. I wasn’t scared of losing, I just wanted to go and see what is was all about.
And what year was that?
I think that was 2002.
How did you get on in the first qualifier?
I did OK, I mean I didn’t qualify for it, but I didn’t see anything that I thought I couldn’t do. I left with a positive outlook on it.
I’ve qualified every year from then on. I came third in 2004, second in 2005 and first in 2006. In the 2006 IFSA worlds I got to the final and came 8th. That’s the worlds, that was hard!
So, the thing that really knocked you back then was the bicep injury?
Yeah, that was in February last year , I was training for the Mohican Sun Super Series. I was deadlifting - and it just came off. I was flying, I was doing really well, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
I was amazed earlier, when you said it didn’t hurt?
No, there are no nerves in there, it didn’t hurt. I just heard it snap and I was just aware of it. You can feel it come up, but there’s no pain. I had an operation on it two and a half weeks later.
What was it like while you were waiting for the op, could you move it?
…they put my arm in a cast .. I ended up cutting it off myself..
It went a bit black! But I had movement in it. I didn’t like the look of it, it was sort of a lot shorter and soft. But I wasn’t really stressed out during that two and a half weeks, only in that I wanted the operation. As far as the Strongman side of things, as soon as I had my injury I sort of detached myself from it - I didn’t think about it.
They put my arm in a cast and wanted me to wear it for months - I ended up cutting it off myself - cause it doesn’t grow without a little bit of stress on it. From their point of view they weren’t looking at it from a Strongman point of view.I think they were covering themselves, making doubly sure by keeping it on twice as long as it needed to be. But that wasn’t in my interest.
So how did they ‘repair’ the bicep?
They drill through the bone and re-attach it with metal clips. Then they put you in a cast while your flesh forms around it and secures it.
Does it feel very different ?
Sometimes it’s a bit lumpy, the stability is missing. I can get away with that, but when I isolate it - when I go straight onto my bicep - that bicep just isn’t as strong as it needs to be at the moment, for what I’m trying to do and where I’ve been before.
I’ve always had very strong arms and there’s a massive difference between this one and that one now, in what I can do. I get away with it - I can still do good stuff - but not what I know I can do.
So will you be pacing yourself this year in your goal of getting your BSM title back?
…you’ve got to try and win .. or it’s pointless..
When I get to a competition, I won’t be holding back because of my arm. I’ve already won Britain’s Strongest Man - you don’t want to go down - you’ve got to try and win Britain’s Strongest Man again or it’s pointless. So I’ve got to win it really. That’ll be how I judge where I go from there - if I win it or not. Second place isn’t something I’ll be chuffed with.
So I know you’ve been closely associated with IFSA in the past. Do you decide now on what events you want to do?
I’ve always done what I want to do. It’s just that generally people fall in line with one organisation or the other. If I don’t qualify for Britain’s Strongest Man I may well end up doing the IFSA World Championships.
Well, thanks for your time Oli and all the very best for 2008. I look forward to seeing you at the BSM Southern Qualifier on May 3rd!
..And last but not least - Courtesy of “Colinllama” - Some great footage of Oli, including the build up to a 400kg deadlift attempt.. and that torn bicep!