estination: Crouch Farm. East Sussex training camp of Oli Thompson and Scott Reid.
My brain was already conjuring up images. This sounded like a refreshing change from the stark metal, glass and bright flourescence of the gyms I’d been shooting till now - countryside, farm machinery, two world-class Strongmen - but my preconceptions disintegrated within minutes of arrival.
The small door swung open to a stark space that would not have looked out of place in a Guy Ritchie movie. Off to one side, a room full of Strongman paraphenalia; Atlas Stones, gigantic tyres and steel cylinders that seemed bolted to the floor. To my mortal frame this looked like a torture chamber.
“Welcome to hardcore heaven” Scott remarked with a fiendish grin as the lights at the periphery were coaxed into life with stacatto clicks. I was here to meet and photograph Scott, Britain’s Strongest Man 2007 in the 105kg weight class.
I’d been told the British 105 scene had a small but determined core of athletes, but if the UK Strongman scene were considered underground then the 105’s seemed positively subterranean. Scott filled me in;
The 105 scene in the UK is very under funded and under valued. There are a good group of athletes that deserve more recognition for what they do - about ten to fifteen guys competing at a national level. I hope we can change this over the coming years.
.. the best ..
in the world ..
The scene is tiny in the UK compared to Scandanavia and the Eastern block countries Over there, 105 athletes are very well known. Like Janie Hartekinen - 3 time world champ - what an athlete. He is the most powerful 105, he never makes a mistake. Marius Rozendal from Latvia has a 345kg deadlift. Sergie Konoshok from the Ukraine is the best 105kg in the world - in my opinion. I think he would have won the worlds by quite a margin if he hadn’t been injured in the pole push.
The international level is a totally different ball game. The standard is extremely high, the guys are hugely popular and the competitions are very heavy. The athletes at this level get treated very well; Hotels, food, the lot are all part of the competitions.
I hope more of the UK guys get to experience this side of the 105kg scene as it is truely amazing! Year after year we do seem to be getting better, so who knows.
I’d heard mention that the weights used in 105’s today are what the heavyweights were competing with just a few years ago, was that the case?
..some of us are pressing
.. a good
Yes that is the case. Some of us are pressing 150kg logs now which was a good heavy-weight lift a few years ago. In the yolk we’ll be using around 310/340kg; heavy-weights would be using 350/400kg. For the Farmers Walk, we would do 120kg each hand for distance - heavy-weights would be using around 140kg. And for the log, 110kg for reps is the norm for us - 125/135kg for heavy-weights.
Are there any parts of the UK that are a ‘hotbed’ of talent?
Yeah the farm where Oli and I train [Ha Ha]. All joking aside there is a huge lack of depth with the talent in the UK compared to the rest of the world.
..all looked good last year
In the UK, Martin Jones, Paul Cater, Neil Evans all looked very good last year and I’m sure we will have a battle again this year. Not forgetting John Hodson, my strongman training partner, he is always a pain in the a*#e! ;))
So, what got you into the sport?
I used to love watching strongman on TV, but ultimately I suppose watching Oli compete inspired me to have a go. When I found out there was a 105kg class there was no stopping me. I had my first crack at the title in 2007. Although I qualified in 2005 by coming 5th in Englands strongest man, the BSM comp didn’t happen that year due to lack of money. In 2006 I qualified again, but had to pull out due to a bad back injury (which I still have). The biggest challenge for the 105’s in the UK has to be raising the profile of the class so we can put on bigger comps and get more guys competing on the International scene.
..And when we first met, you’d had a month off training. Was that due to injury?
It was due to an arm injury I gained in the first event at the IFSA World championships.
.. heavy and very
By the end of the fourth day, the tendon in my right bicep was totally shot to bits - I was in agony. Adding to this, the comp was not as advertised; it was stupid heavy and very intense. Basically I was totally spent when I got back from China and needed to rest big time.
So clearly Oli is a big influence on you. How long have you been training partners? Do you think training with Oli has been the secret of your success?
.. to give up ..
I have been training with Oli for three years now. Training with Oli always pushes you to your limits, he is very strong and a good inspiration to me. Undoubtedly training at Oli’s farm has helped me, but it’s my unwillingness to give up that moves me forward in strongman.
My usual training schedule is Monday: Deadlift or front squats, then chest (always incline press first as this helps your log). Tuesday; Legs. Wednesday: Shoulders and triceps. Thursday: Events. Friday: Upper back and biceps. Saturday: Events. I always use old fashioned, basic movements in the gym. They are all you need for strongman.
If you are thinking about getting into strongman, you need to ask yourself two questions; am I already very strong in the gym and am I crazy. If the answer is yes to both of these then give it a go!
What do you see as the biggest challenge to raising the profile of the 105’s in the UK? .. And what would be the best thing that could happen to the 105’s this year?
Money money money! .. And two athletes get to go to the worlds in China and we get a good high standard British championship this year.
Anything else you’d like to say?!
Good luck to everyone this year, I look forward to some hard comps!!!!!