The man of the year

Strength athletes are peculiar people; It takes a certain combination of qualities to get to the top. Hard work, persistence of course, but very often you'd have to include showmanship, large mouth, big ego and also a good sense of humour. Either it's that bodybuilding builds ego too, or it's a way to handle setbacks and boring work with iron plates. 

There's one problem though: When you get good enough, people might mistake your attitude for being cocky. And if you don't want people to come watch your competitions for just wanting to see you get beaten, then, sometimes, you just need to shut up for a while. 

Three examples: 
First someone, who even starts his letters as it reads in the title (not to me though, to women of course). Svend Karlsen has often told, that I can write about what I will, but he doesn't want to sound cocky.  

Tony Halme, soon to be some 6000$ poorer, has knowingly taken it over the limit: he has long made his living by being a man everyone wants to beat. Tough work - and even needs a special haircut, but I guess he will bring extra spectators to in March. 

Jouko: he started to make challenges only after he lost the WSM last year. He's determined to win Helsinki GP and now he can even say it loud when he's not the title holder. Well, remember Jon-Pall? At his very best he tells to the other competitors before the show starts: "I will beat you, and you, and you, and all of you!" (was this correct?) Admitted, this is not Jouko's style even when he's a challenger, so there must be some other mental qualities which help him to the top. He's a talkative fellow yes, but actually what I know for sure, he loves to train. And that's naturally the most important thing in common with top strongmen. 

Ok now, I talked with Svend a while this tuesday. He's coming to Finland January 27th, and will stay until Feb 7th. He reminded me to let this information out especially for girls under 25y. Like if ... then again, as this sport grows year by year, even I have gotten several female visitors. And in Helsinki last year, there were surprisingly many women, being that every tenth guy in the audience took two seats. Great, they don't all seem to mind if men work out with weights and maybe have some muscle too. However this year, when you think that the Graaf sisters have been invited from Sweden to sing for us, this GP starts to remind a motor show or something more for men's iron guild.  

Well, if all you guys just drag your girlfriends over there, we'll introduce this sport to women also. Just prepare for conversations like: 

 - Thank god YOU're not lifting that 200kg stone 
 - But.. I WILL, some day 
 - Dear, you don't have the muscle! 

"The man of the year" also tried to shock me with stories about how his life has changed after the divorce (mostly kidding me, a single student). But I won't believe him, otherwise he couldn't have the energy to still train two times a day... 

Mornings strongman (how does that sound to you, an impossible combination?), evenings basic gym training. We and Sunday off. I wondered where he gets the motivation, being that even 
Kiri has said two times a day starts to "taste wood". He was actually surprised and emphasized he loves to train, and this year is very important after setbacks last year. At worst he couldn't even tie his own shoelaces while guys had a feast in Morocco. 

Svend has gotten himself a manager and was there even one coach for track and field type of training? Sponsor contracts promise bonuses when seen on TV. That means Eurosport competitions will be very important. Helsinki and WSM will be the two most important competitions. He wasn't able to name any in US yet.  

In Helsinki, he would consider a performance like last year an acceptable start for ´99, but rather win of course. There are two events, he said, he will likely win. Crucifix he doesn't train at all now for his shoulders aren't too happy about it, and even the best time he ever did, was the first time he ever tried it? Viking press he also hasn't tried yet, but will test it at Jouko's during his visit. 

I also got a question about his training lifts this year: He hasn't tried max lifts, instead trains with 90% and concentrates on speed and strongman type of endurance. 

comments about: 

Rumour about Manfred: Politics don't interest Svend. "Like some day they are the closest friends and some other day not". Things can change again. He hasn't heard much. 

$: There's more money in strongman tour this year, but this sport would certainly need someone like Don King in boxing: When he started to push things around, prize money rose from 4M to 100M. 

Coaching others at gym: "Don't coach now, that's one of the good things not having a gym (laughing) - and don't have to be nice to everyone". People keep asking him a lot of questions. 

Powerlifting: Some things about why powerlifting isn't popular right now, like 350kg doesn't really look that heavy on bar, suits, fat men who only do one lift and that's it, etc. 

Ed Coan, who has been the World's best powerlifter actually for years now, was feeling a bit down after getting banned from IPF. Svend tried to cheer him up by saying nobody will even remember what you lifted under IPF, it's the max that counts. We both did agree with him?  

Now something (among other things?) he didn't want me to put here, but well we talked a while about drugs and that there's now this new powerlifting organization in Finland, for professionals, and there's no drug tests. So what did he say about it: "... you know there won't be any drug tests - or the guys test the drugs themselves (laugh). (silent) Don't you put this on your page!"

(The next update from myself will probably be some new photos from Hämeenlinna during February. I will also try to lift some stones there myself. Chris will publish "Kazmaier the wrestler" shortly)