Tom Stoltman entered the 2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) with historic aspirations. Should the former two-time reigning champion (2021-2022) have beaten his elite strongman peers in Myrtle Beach, SC, he would have become only the third competitor to win three consecutive WSM titles. Instead, he fell short with a runner-up finish to eventual victor Mitchell Hooper. At the very least, the Scottish athlete seems to accept his shortcoming.
On Apr. 24, 2023, a day after the conclusion of the latest climactic WSM, Stoltman posted a reflection on his performance to his Instagram. While he didn’t make history, Stoltman already appears to be looking ahead to another title shot and more coming strongman greatness.
To date, only the United States’ Bill Kazmaier (1980-1982) and Iceland’s Magnús Ver Magnússon (1994-1996) have ever won three straight WSM titles. With a victory, Stoltman would’ve been the third and joined their very exclusive company in the contest’s illustrious 46-year history.
Alas, such an achievement wasn’t meant to be for one of modern’s strongman’s biggest names. It would’ve been understandable if Stoltman wanted to lament his misfortunes and missed opportunities. An athlete of his prowess, standing on the precipice of almost unprecedented greatness, taking the time to highlight what went wrong likely wouldn’t have been stunning.
However, like a great competitor with a championship mentality, Stoltman instead showed graciousness in what he left in his latest WSM appearance. A British Record Max Dumbbell Press of 132.5 kilograms (292 pounds) likely helps his standing.
That’s regardless of past performances, like a sixth-place result at the 2023 Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC).
“I gave everything I had this year!” Stoltman wrote. “Hitting the big dumbbell was a personal goal for myself and I was consistent throughout. I’m very proud … I got told I wouldn’t be getting near the podium at [the 2023 WSM] due to my Arnold [Strongman Classic] performance. I worked hard and gave my all!”
Stoltman’s WSM title run officially ended with four podium appearances in the last four years. In both instances where Stoltman didn’t win, he was the runner-up to the champion — Hooper in 2023 and Oleksii Novikov in 2020. Stoltman finished ahead of the third-place Novikov at the 2023 WSM.
As for paying tribute to those who paved the way, Stoltman seemed remiss if he didn’t mention a more established strongman legend. After qualifying for his 15th WSM Finals, Brian Shaw will no longer be a fixture at the flagship strongman competition as he nears his retirement.
Stoltman made sure to pay his appropriate respects to the strength icon.
“Thank you to Brian Shaw for everything you have done for this sport and for myself.”
Stoltman’s excellent past precedent suggests that his 2023 WSM runner-up placing won’t be the last anyone sees of this superstar strongman. If anything, moving forward, he’ll likely channel it as motivation to complete a successful climb to the top again.
Featured image: @tomstoltmanofficial on Instagram