Renowned strongman commentator and 2016 Europe’s Strongest Man, Laurence “Big Loz” Shahlaei has worked as a coach for many high-level strength athletes, including the 2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM), Mitchell Hooper. Following Hooper’s 2023 WSM victory, Shahlaei and his wife Liz Shahlaei shared their thoughts and opinions about the news on his YouTube channel.
The Shahlaeis started the video with a recap of the last day of competition, beginning with the Circus Dumbbell. They noted that 2020 WSM winner Oleksii Novikov was expected to do well based on his long string of dominating the event in past competitions, while Hooper and defending champion Tom Stoltman may likely lose points on the leaderboard.
Liz expressed her thoughts about the refereeing during this event, highlighting some potentially questionable lockout calls, while Big Loz noted that the calls were at least consistent with all the athletes.
He was most shocked that 2020 World’s Strongest Man Oleksii Novikov didn’t win the event — Novikov would tie for second place, along with Tom and Luke Stoltman, and Pavlo Kordiyaka. All four competitors completed a lift with the 132.5-kilogram (291-pound) dumbbell. Hooper and Evan Singleton tied for the win in that event, successfully lifting the 140.4-kilogram (309-pound) dumbbell.
Next up was the Truck Pull. Every man that was still in the competition finished in less than 40 seconds, which surprised Loz. Hooper won that event with a time of 30.24 seconds, which padded his overall lead over Stoltman going into the final event.
“I have to say, I’ve never seen the Truck Pull done so quickly at World’s Strongest Man.”
Indeed, the last time a vehicle pull was performed faster in a WSM Finals event was Manfred Hoberl’s blazing 29.64-second truck pull in the 1994 WSM contest.
Shahlaei also noted that he was glad there appeared to be no controversy over who won the event, as Hooper’s time exceeded the runner-up by more than two full seconds.
“The winner was a clear winner,” Big Loz said while pointing out that Hooper’s previous performance in the event — 49.24 seconds in the 2022 WSM — wasn’t as competitive as his recent performance.
“He’s worked extremely hard at this. This whole competition has just been phenomenal. I’ve been blown away.”
The couple then covered the Atlas Stones, in which Hooper placed second behind Stoltman. However, Hooper’s collection of points on the leaderboard was still good enough to clinch the title. Loz and Liz even showed Loz’s live reaction as the results were shared online. The coach summed up his client’s performance as a dominant one.
“It’s been an emotional week. We’re so proud of Mitch Hooper. We’re proud of all the athletes. Obviously I’m coaching Mitch, and I’m invested in him.”
They concluded the video by recapping the top ten as a collective, and he saluted four-time World’s Strongest Man (2011, 2013, 2015-2016) Brian Shaw, who made his last appearance at the contest.
“It’s been a pleasure and a nightmare at times to compete against him in my career, but it’s been an honor, and I hope he goes on and does great things.”
Featured Image: @biglozwsm on Instagram