Tangier, Morocco (8-18.Oct)
the World's Strongest Man
1. Magnus Samuelsson 
(SWE, 73 p)
2. Jouko Ahola  
(FIN, 67 p)
3. Wout Ziljstra 
(NED, 62 p)
4. Phil Pfister 
(USA, 51 p)
5. Pieter de Bruyn 
(RSA, 46 p)
4. Riku Kiri  
(FIN, 26 p, dnf)
5. Torfi Olafsson  
(ICE, 19 p, dnf)
6. Mark Philippi  
(USA, 18 p, dnf)
7. Berend Veneberg 
(NED, 9 p, dnf)
10. Hugo Girard 
(CAN, 5 p, dnf)

When Svend Karlsen told me that Magnus Samuelsson could very well be the winner this year, I still had some doubts. 1998 GP-tour was a success for Magnus, so it was evident that he had made a terrific improvement since last year, but I just kept thinking about Las Vegas (WSM 1997), where he lost it in the Squat and Deadlift. Karlsen noted, that the only event this year Magnus might not be good at, is Log Lift for maximum weight.  

I wrote earlier, that the events chosen for the finals don't actually favor Jouko; some of the events best for him were used in the qualifying phase. We knew it was going to be close between Magnus, Jouko, Riku, Gerrit, Wout and Flemming. But what happened then?  

40 competitors from all around the World flew to Morocco to compete for the title. Some top competitors who were invited couldn't come, and some others were not even invited. Trans World International chose to invite 5 competitors from US alone (normally there has been just one or two / country) - what wouldn't they do for bigger audiences?  

Actually, they will do nothing for getting bigger audiences for the sport, but more about that later. 

Of these 40 competitors, World's strongest men, only a few could eat Moroccan food and still compete the day after. Tangier must be a real tourist attraction! The most interesting sights there must be the bugs in the food. As this was known beforehand, you might wonder why hold a competition there? Well, more about that also later. Bill said it's not known if Magnus is the strongest, or just has the greatest tolerance for Moroccan food...  

With this and and dozens of injuries I don't still want to take anything away from Magnus! They way he competed against Ahola, who can't really explain anything, showed that Magnus would have probably won against anybody this year! He would have just deserved a better competition and more healthy opponents, then this victory would taste even better for him. But he can't help it, he did his best and won, that's it. This year, he was the strongest.  

It's always like this - last year people spoke about MVM, Gerrit and Kiri not qualifying. But remember, they didn't even qualify! And also we know that winning competitions means that one has to stay healthy during the whole competition. If you want to show your strength later, the next competitions are already close. And there are strongman WRs to be broken. 

Qualifying, 8-11 Oct, what was written here in Finland

Day 1

Jouko Ahola, Janne Virtanen and Riku Kiri all won the first events in their heats. Ahola was clearly the fastest with a 200kg barrel and a 300kg anchor in strongmen's drag'n'drop event. 

20 guys (of 40) did Carry & Drag as their first event but Jouko and a guy from Fizi, Derek Boyer, were the only ones who even got a time instead of a distance. 

Kiri yoked victoriously with 355kg. 

If Svend had been in Tangier, with his appetite, he'd get the first stomach pains right now. 

Day 2

After two qualifying events Jouko has two victories under his belt. 8pts lead already. Hugo Girard from Canada came second in both events. 

Jouko: It's not sure yet, but if I win the Hercules Hold on Saturday, a place in the finals will be really close. 

Virtanen came second after Olafsson in Deadlift Hold (with a car). Kiri came also second (or was it a tie, I haven't heard for sure yet)  in log press. 

Day 3

Ahola is in the finals for sure. 

Jouko: Sunday's wheel flip I wouldn't even have to do but I do it anyway - for practice. 

Kiri also won the Hercules Hold in his heat, which means both guys are in the finals. 

Although Janne won this test of grip too, his place was left to be decided in the wheel flip. 2nd place will be enough. 

Day 4

Janne Virtanen and Torfi Olafsson tied at qualifying, but when they did the last event again (wheel flip), Olafsson won easily because Janne had injured his hand the last time. 

Now when the Finnish champ didn't qualify, there are only two weaker Finns left to compete in the finals. This doesn't look good :-) 

As I predicted, Ziljstra won his heat and now he can do anything in the finals. 

Finals, 15-18 Oct

Day 1

Many of the qualifiers pulled out of the competition for being too sick or injured. Winning WSM is also about having an iron health. Flemming Rasmussen and Gerrit Badenhorst are out. Also Lee Bowers who was supposed to replace Rasmussen. 

Phil Pfister was chosen to the finals, but he was only third in Olafsson's and Virtanen's heat. Virtanen complained about this later, and the organizers admitted their mistake, but nothing could be done. From what I hear, things heated up a bit. 

Results from the first event, Farmer's Walk, 80m with 120kg oxygen tanks (how come so little weight?) 
1) Ahola 2) Kiri 3) Samuelsson 4) Zijlstra 5) Pfister 6) Philippi 7) de Bruyn 8) Veneberg 9) Olafsson 10) Girard 

This was as expected, bad thing is this list lacks some tough competitors. Only Ahola and Kiri made it to the finish line. 

Results from the second event, Truck Pull 
1) Olafsson 61s 2) Samuelsson 63,xx  3) Kiri 66,28 4) Ahola 66,50 5) Zijlstra 6) de Bruyn 7) Girard 8) Pfister 9) Veneberg 10) Philippi 

Olafsson really did show something here. Samuelsson's performance was to be expected; also Ahola did not do much worse than I would have guessed. They had to pull three trucks (without trailers), total of 24 tons for 30m. All ten managed to finish. 

Lead after day 1: 

1. Ahola (with one win) 17 pts 
2. Samuelsson&Kiri 17 pts 
4. Ziljstra 13 pts 

Day 2

(After day 1) 
I thought they were going to have log lift for max and power stairs today (and I called it a day of horror for Samuelsson) but instead they do car rolling and husafel stone (in which Samuelsson will probably do fine). 

Jouko thought that he might not be in the lead after day two because he's shorter than Kiri and Samuelsson and that's a disadvantage in car rolling. Be he told not to worry, there are still good events left for him. 

Oh no! Not a Swede, please! (well, neigbour countries you see...) 

Third event: Husafel Stone, 175kg 
1) Samuelsson.... 6) Ahola 56m 

Jouko: I made one of the biggest mistakes of my career. I put resin on my chest and hands and it didn't work out at all because the stone was so sandy. I could carry it only 56m, which is way below my normal level. But I'm quite happy with my result in car rolling. 

Fourth event: Car Rolling, Opel Cadett two times around 
1) Samuelsson 25s... 3) Ahola 35s 

Kiri injured his leg here, maybe it's the hamstring again, which has been bothering him for the whole year. He's out, and I must say this we have seen before. 

Three guys really go for the victory any more: 

1) Samuelsson 37 pts 
2) Ahola 30 pts 
3) Ziljstra 29 pts 

Ahola still believes in his possibilities and what else there is to do than try to catch Magnus's lead. 

Day 3

Today we have those log lift for max and power stairs. Only chance for Jouko to catch Samuelsson. Practically there is no chance because there aren't enough serious competitors left to place between them. 

It may very well be that we get a champion who is not at his best in max strength events. But do you still remember Ted Van Der Parre? 

And from what I hear, all the injuries and stomach pains from local food, WSM will never return to third world countries again. Again the idiots who organize this competition are doing as was to be expected. 

Fifth event: Power Stairs 
1) Samuelsson 2) Jouko 3) Z 

WHAT HAPPENED? Samuelsson has clearly made terrific improvement in Power Stairs, but people in Finland wondered if they used weights big enough. Jouko has a lot to explain at home. 

Sixth event: Log lift for max 
1) Jouko 2) de Bruyn 3) Z 4) Samuelsson 

As expected. 

Torfi dropped out, only five continue. 

Lead after day 3: 
Samuelsson 54pts 
Ahola 49 pts 
Z 45 pts 
Pfister 37 
de Bruyn 34 

About publishing these results: Usually when there is a World Championships somewhere, organizers start to advertise it months before, and try to get as many TV-companies and newspapers there as possible. In this case TWI is undermining the whole sport by trying to hold the competition somewhere where there are even no phonelines or spectators. The competition rights should be taken away from them and soon! They try to keep the results from being posted anywhere, so when the competition is aired on TV, it would be more interesting? Hello, anybody home? When the competition is finally aired and if there has been no talk about it the whole year, it might happen something like this: 
- Hey, today there's this WSM on TV. 
- Oh that... did you see it the last year? 
- No, missed it, but I heard some guy from US won. 
- Doesn't seem to be a big sport because we don't hear anything about these competitions. 
  Nothing beats basketball you know. 

Now TWI could even hold this competition again somewhere else after a month or so, if something goes wrong. Nobody would even know and only few people care. 

Ok, when the competition is aired on TV here (that is usually a month before than in USA), I'll put it all on the web for everybody to see! 

(And last year when the competition finally came out, it was horrible work from nearly all of the TV-companies including at least YLE, BBC and ESPN) 

Day 4

Cask circle and Medley. Samuelsson is the World's Strongest Man 1998 if nothing strange happens. Jouko will win Cask circle and Samuelsson Medley. Ziljstra third. 

It came out exactly as I expected. In Medley all these three were inside one second.

Jouko told that if there just had been more competitors... he might have had a better chance. Be he didn't lose to a bad competitor, already before he took a flight to Morocco he said he would bet his money on Samuelsson if he were not going to compete himself. 

Congratulations Magnus! You must come to Helsinki GP to show if you really are the best now! Karlsen and Kiri will be waiting, also Ahola might want to eat properly before the competition.