Brian Shaw’s legacy is unquestionably secure in the pantheon of strongman greats. The 40-year-old living legend has been professionally carrying yokes and placing Atlas stones onto podiums for the better part of roughly 15 years. As he looks ahead to the next phase of his life that doesn’t involve lifting extremely large objects a few select times in the calendar, Shaw is ready to close an important chapter.
On Jan. 9, 2023, Shaw announced that the 2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) would be his last appearance in the famed international contest. When the latest edition rolls on Apr. 18-23, 2023, in Myrtle Beach, SC, Shaw will make “one more big push” for a historic fifth career WSM title.
When Shaw finally gets set to compete in the 2023 WSM, it will mark his 16th appearance in the illustrious contest. He has appeared in the WSM Finals, which comes after the heat stage cutoff, in 14 of his previous contests, only falling short of advancing in his WSM debut in 2008. To date, Shaw has never finished lower than sixth place (2019) in the WSM and can boast 10 podium results.
More impressively, when taking a historical context of wins, Shaw’s four WSM championships tie him for the second-most all-time with Žydrūnas Savickas, Magnús Ver Magnússon, and Jón Páll Sigmarsson. With five WSM titles, only Poland’s Mariusz Pudzianowski has more victories as he stands alone at the top of the sport. Shaw’s last WSM title happened in 2016 when he happened to overcome eventual 2017 WSM champion Eddie Hall (third place) and future 2018 WSM champion Hafthor Björnsson (second place).
When discussing what his last appearance will mean to him, Shaw was frank and seemingly optimistic about his prospects at the 2023 iteration of the competition.
“After taking some time to think about it, I want to give World’s Strongest Man one more big push.” Shaw said. “I feel like I’ve got it in me. My body feels great, and mentally, I think this year I can be in a much better spot. […] Now, there’s a lot of work to be done. I’m not going to skate around that fact. I don’t think this is going to be easy in any way, shape, or form. But the work can be put in and this can be awesome.”
To win his fifth career WSM title, Shaw faces a tall task in a stacked field of superstars. In addition to Shaw, the roster will likely include some form of reigning two-time champion Tom Stoltman, 2019 champion Martins Licis, and 2020 winner Oleksii Novikov.
One thing’s for sure: If Shaw can overcome this final gauntlet of talented peers, his status as a living strongman legend may only grow in scope in a WSM swan song.
Featured image: @shawstrength on Instagram