UK Strongest Man contest attracts four of Ireland’s best

Sean O’Hagan, Ivan Gannon, Pa O’Dwyer and Jonathan Kelly take part at Belfast City Hall

Four of Ireland’s strongest men have turned out to bench press logs, haul bags of steel and pull trucks tied to their waists to see if they can compete against the UK’s toughest.

It is the 13th year of the UK Strongest Man competition, which began at Belfast City Hall this afternoon.

Irishmen Sean O'Hagan, Ivan Gannon, Pa O'Dwyer and Jonathan Kelly are among a field of 16 burly competitors, each determined to muscle their way to the top.

The men started things slowly, lifting the equivalent of two people above their heads in the first of a gruelling series of tests.


Bench-pressed 150kg

Five-time champion Eddie Hall, from Staffordshire in the UK, bench-pressed a 150kg log 19 times in an effortless show of power in front of a crowd of hundreds.

Last month Hall collapsed after rupturing blood vessels in his head while lifting 500kg in a world-record-breaking deadlift.

Today, the men waddled along the “duck walk” outside Belfast’s City Hall, clutching 200kg stacks of metal in the toughest of the races.

Other challenges included a centuries-old pole push wrestling test and lifting sack loads of weights into vehicles.

Pulling trucks and flipping mammoth tyres are among the challenges awaiting competitors who make it to the next round.

Four men, two each from two groups of eight, were disqualified by the end of today's muscle-tearing challenges. The victor will be crowned on Saturday at the final in Crumlin Road Gaol.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times