World Team Championships 1999 
Panyu, China 

I hear the opening ceremonies were really something to see. 35000 people and about 800 million TV spectators followed the happening live. Every competition event also got live TV coverage in China. 

The crowd got a bit smaller during the weekend, but maybe asking 6$ for a ticket was too much in a region where the average salary is only 300$ per month. And people were able to follow it from the TV. 

Friday, Oct 8th: 
Only Farmer's Walk was scheduled right after the ceremony. I find this a little strange. 

Jouko and Janne were the first to try it of 9 groups. As they couldn't really know what the others will do, they walked as long they could: 119 meters carrying 6 persons on a stretcher! 

Samuelsson brothers got 97 and Poland (Jaroslav Dyme & 
Marius Pudzianowski) came third with 95.5 meters. 

Saturday, Oct 9th: 
Super Yoke, Boat Pull and Stones of Strength 

Ahola & Virtanen won both the yoke and boat pull. In yoke they were the only team to walk full 25 meters. In boat pull they were ten seconds faster than Veneberg & Ziljstra (HOL), who in turn won the Stones of Strength by 5 seconds. The 6 giant stones were pig shaped! 

Standings after two days 

Finland, 35 
Sweden, 27 
Holland, 23 
Poland, 22 
Canada, 21 
Atlantic Islands, 17 
South Africa, 14 
China and Hungary (tied), 9
Sunday, Oct 10th: 
Truck Pull, Loading (sacks), Conan's Wheel and Wheel Flip 

J&J won the Truck Pull and Conan's Wheel. Loading Poland won, Jouko tripped over and the guys finished only 4th. They could have started celebrations after 7 events already, but naturally they still flipped the wheel for a 2nd place. 

This was the last competition for Jouko this year. Virtanen will compete next after two weeks in Iceland. 

Final results 

1) Finland, 67 points 
2) Sweden, 53 points 
3) Poland, 51 points 
4) Holland, 45 points 
5) South Africa, 40-1/2 points 
6) Atlantic Islands, 35 points 
7) Canada, 31-1/2 points 
8) China, 19 points 
9) Hungary, 18 points 

Daily news thanks to Hämeen Sanomat, a Finnish newspaper. Full results from Ironmind

Hämeen Sanomat wrote... 

The guys from Poland, Jaroslav Dyme & Marius Pudzianowski, performed exceptionally well and achieved a surprise 3rd place. 

- '97 with Riku we weren't this convincing. Here the events were also somewhat strange, but we were able to press hard every day. Janne was in very good form and performed well in every event. 

"Jalo" will keep concentrating on strongman competitions, although many think that he would also now have a good chance to take the Finnish title in Greco-Romanic wrestling. That would mean a place in the Olympics. (Rather just that.) 

- The season has went very well and now I'm waiting for more invitations to tough international competitions. The next competitions will be already after two weeks in Iceland. 
- I hope Jouko will keep helping me with training, although we now are rivals. 

Interestingly Hämeen Sanomat wrote after this latest victory, that Jouko has already achieved more during his career than any other strongman. Here's the text in brief: He has been World's Strongest Man and World Team Champion twice (with Riku Kiri '97), last year he got two 2nd places. He also won the GP-tour this year and has dominated strongman competitions for the last three years. Before Jouko, Iceland's Magnus Ver Magnusson was the number one strongman with four WSM titles. The Icelander wasn't however as superior in other international competitions. 

Interesting. Also... people start to forget J-P Sigmarsson, who still holds the lead if you think of WSM competitions only: 4 times 1st, 2 times 2nd and once 3rd, which is one 3rd place more than MVM has. They both competed / have competed as many years. Both have many many other titles. 

Yes, probably Jouko has even more titles by now, but nowadays there are more competitions per year. I won't go on to world records, this comparison is impossible as the guys are (still) so close. 

Older articles in Hämeen Sanomat included 


Janne Virtanen celebrating the highly successful trip to Malta: 

- It was an extremely close competition to the end. I succeeded beating Svend Karlsen with only half a point. 

He made it directly to the strongman elite. 

- I have good chances for winning the title next year, especially if Ahola takes a ... 

- Only Berend Veneberg and Wout Ziljstra pose a threat to our victory in team championships. The Samuelsson brothers are also good, but I don't think they excel this year. Especially when Magnus was suprisingly soft in Malta WSM. 

Juha Tuhkasaari will test the events in team championships. (did he?) 

Janne has made much improvement from last year. With Jouko he was really able to improve his event techniques. 

- I also cut off heavy leg workouts. I was always too tired in event training and it didn't then seem to work out at all. 

Jouko awarded by the city. His parents (Tuula, Unto) in the pic. 

Plans for getting the WSM 2000 to Finland. 

TWI has supposedly offered the competition to Ahvenanmaa (a big "island" south-west from Helsinki) or to mainland. 
Pekka Vihma, a restaurant enterpriser from Hämeenlinna, has been negociating the deal. It's still just an idea. 

The competition has once before been in Finland - Joensuu 1990. WSM is seen by 500 million people worldwide every year. The competition has been traditionally held in exotic places. 

Competition date would be somewhere in July. The biggest problem is maybe money. TWI requires 400 000$ as start money for the project.

Jouko's first training video is out! Check out his home page! 


I have already ordered it, and I know there's a big demand for this kind of informative video. How big, that will also be a good measurement on strongman publicity worldwide.  

Jouko isn't really expecting to sell several thousands right away, but it's good to have these videos made now. The 2nd video about gym training still needs some work before Jouni (his brother) can start sending it. They intend to get it out in November.  

I think it would be great if he'd get at least some bucks for sharing out his knowledge about strongman training... Juha Tuhkasaari and Janne Virtanen are good examples that his methods work big time! 

Two days ago when I called him he hadn't yet seen the final version even himself. As I haven't yet either, more comments later then. 

Jouko has had a great year in all, and the challenges continue! Gets even tougher I think. I'll write more about that next year. 

I asked if he had a great trip to China... Panuy, which is an hour boat trip away from Hongkong sounded to be... an hour boat trip away from Hongkong... 

* The Chinese had a 5-man team, from which they chose 2 for every event. They weren't that bad and even won team Hungary! 
* Hugo Girard caught a cold from the hotel's air conditioning device (probably) and couldn't do the last two or three events. When I asked you guess what, Jouko said Hugo really IS a strong guy. He's maybe a bit too heavy at 150kg. With good strongman training he could be tough to beat already next year. 
* We then talked about what it really takes to reach the top - many guys "have the potential", but they never make it (this was not about Hugo, but of a big list of guys usually mentioned as the could-be champs). In short, a competitor needs years and years and real dedication to strongman events, not just some good gym lifts. 
* Jouko named Samuelsson, Svend and Virtanen as the potential winners in WSM next year. We talked about how hard it is to reach the top-3 in any sport. And that maybe in some women's sport use of doping can get you right to the top, but on men's side it takes years and years and more intelligence to reach the international top. More drugs is hardly any solution. (National level can sometimes be different) 
* NSAA formed, Manfred sued by IFSA. But we haven't heard much really. 
* WSM + also a SEPARATE world championships next year? There has been talks about it, ... but it's not likely to happen? 
* WSM in Finland, also maybe not, as Finland is too cold in late summer already. Jouko knew one other southern country... maybe 
* Janne has improved a lot, but would still need more powerlifting strength. He has always been in good shape, has like 18 medals in wrestling, and competed in Finland's Strongest Man since '96. 
* Also if Pfister could get more powerlifting strenght, he'd be good. 
* Juha Tuhkasaari lost that UFC match... no suprise to any of us it ended to an arm lock. It came so fast... even though he had trained the locks to be able to avoid them. I remember warning him about those moves (had I trained martial arts more lately, would've loved to try some on him, haha). Juha had broken the guy's nose though... so maybe it was better... 
* Jouko started to design a training program for Juha and Janne for Helsinki GP.

Misc mails 

Robert Petersson just mailed me about his article and pics from Sweden's Strongest Man competition this year 

Follow the link 

Ken Brown answered my question who are the most popular ... 
Subject: Most popular Finnish athletes in USA 

Teemu Selanne is by far the most popular Finnish athlete in the USA.  This is due mostly to media coverage.  American football, basketball and baseball are by far the most popular sports in the U.S.  Ice hockey, golf and auto racing would probably be next on the list in popularity.  Teemu has been in the NHL for some time now, is a star player, and is seen almost every night on ESPN and other sports networks during the season.  Koivu is probably next on the list.  Auto racing is popular in the USA, but most of the coverage is of NASCAR and INDY racing.  Formula 1 doesn't get too much media coverage here. Cross country skiing is only seen here during the winter olympics. 

World's Strongest Man contests are rapidly gaining popularity in the USA. All strongman competitors know and respect Jouko Ahola, but when I talk to the general public they always mention Magnus Ver.  I guess that is because he has won WSM 4 times and has been shown alot on American TV over the past few years.  Maybe after they show this years WSM on TV more people will be talking about Jouko. 

I enjoyed visiting with Jouko in Malta and learning some techniques from him. If you talk to Jouko, tell him that if he is doing any filming in California, he is welcome at my home anytime. 

Ken Brown  

and here is another answer to the subject from
Jeannette and Jeff Albertson
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999
Subject: Athlete exposure in the U.S.

Hello fellas. Great site! Keep up the good work. I would say the it's a toss up Between Teemu Selanne and Jouko Ahola. Hockey is the Fourth most popular pro sport in the U.S. And Strongman is not all that populer to main stream Americans. But Jouko does get quite a bit of exposure on ESPN2.

Mike G still wondered on Strongest Man Alive forum what might... 

Subject: WSM deadlift  
What is everyone's opinion on who would of won the deadlift if Badenhorst competed in it? I think Badenhorst has lifted more than Ahola did at this year's WSM.  

My answer: 

We won't ever get to know that and it's even difficult to speculate.  

Badenhorst has of course deadlifted more than 380kg, but so has Jouko. Let me remind you this wasn't a gym lift. Jouko wondered if Gerrit's grip had held with the bar they used there, also from what I hear Gerrit was in bad overform during the competition -> didn't qualify. But Jouko also said that he was so disappointed with his own performance that day, Gerrit would've probably won. That day. But then again that particular day Gerrit was probably in worse shape than Jouko! And Svend could've won also, had he been in his best shape. NOBODY WAS.  

Also let me remind you, it's not really that important who would've won the deadlift. Any of these three guys could've won the others there, had they trained to win the deadlift ONLY! What did Gerrit ... 

My answer from September to the neverending Greg Kovacs discussion: 

One guy I almost trust has witnessed Kovacs do 6x270kg in Smith incline press (1996, World Gym Columbus, when he travelled there to see Arnold's Classic). In a way Kovacs indeed is one of the strongest in the world, although he won't make it in the bodybuilding, and wouldn't probably make it in the powerlifting or strongman either. Most of the results there has been posted are bs, but I want to give him some credit anyway (no matter what was his technique when he pressed that amount). He weighed 180kg during that time.  

If you could get him to compete in some strongman comp, that would probably get big audiences!