Watching the annual World’s Strongest Man competition is one of the guilty pleasures in my household. In case you haven’t seen this, it features contestants from around the world taking part in such events as Car Carry, Keg Toss and Truck Pull.
Iceland has a long tradition of producing excellent strongman competitors and is second only to the US in holding the World’s Strongest Man title. This small country has produced two “World’s Strongest Man” winners who won the title 4 times each, Jón Páll Sigmarsson and Magnús Ver Magnússon.
Stefán Sölvi Pétursson is a current competitor and placed in the top 10 of World’s Strongest Man in 2010 and 2011, as well as winning Iceland’s Strongest Man in 2009 and 2010. As he is still only 25 years old, he has potential to join his countrymen in becoming another Icelandic legend in the field.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask him some questions about both his life as a competitive strongman and Iceland generally. You can find out more about him by visiting his website.
What inspired you to become a strongman?
Stefán Sölvi Pétursson (SSP): I was inspired to become a strongman by Jón Páll Sigmarsson, the 4 times World’s Strongest Man champion from Iceland. I was so proud that my countryman from tiny little Iceland was the strongest of all.
How do you train for your events, which are very specialised and use equipments such as stones? Can you do this in a gym?
SSP: No, not in a regular gym. I rent a place where I have equipment I made and had made for me.
Do you have another job or is being a strongman a full-time career?
SSP: I have to work as a personal trainer and a bouncer at a night club.
SSP: Yes. This is a small sport and we’re all good friends and have fun while travelling and competing.
Do you ever have days where you just eat junk food?
SSP: Yes of course, I have my cheat days!
What would you do if someday you were injured and could no longer compete?
SSP: I can’t think like that.
What makes you proud to be from Iceland?
SSP: It’s my country. It’s where I was molded into the man I am today. I’m proud of myself and I’m proud of where I come from.
How would you describe a typical Icelander in 10 words or less?
SSP: Strong and beautiful.
Which is the national dish of Iceland – hot dogs or skyr?
SSP: Neither. Its the Icelandic lamb.
SSP: I could see myself move abroad for some time but never permanently. I would not say I get homesick, but I guess I’ve never left Iceland for too long. I love my country. It gives me my energy.
If a visitor had only one day to spend in Reykjavík, what would you recommend doing?
SSP: Depends on your interests of course. Take a walk down town and enjoy Icelandic food. You could also go whale watching or take a bus to the blue lagoon.
I have the idea that everyone in Iceland knits. Are you a knitter?
SSP: No, I’m not!
How disappointing. Moving on, Iceland was hit a bit harder than most countries by the economic crisis. What is the mood there like now?
SSP: It seems to be getting better. I don’t think about that stuff. I’m too busy enjoying my life.
What is your favourite Icelandic music?
SSP: There’s so much music that I like I can’t name one.
Do you think you have what it takes to be the World’s Strongest Man someday?
SSP: Of course I do. If I did not, I would not be doing this at the top level. This is a very demanding sport.
Finally, does coming from the land of vikings and trolls give you any special secret advantages?:)
SSP: Yes it does! It makes me a VIKING/TROLL! Beware!
To find out more about the World’s Strongest Man competition and when it is broadcast in your country, visit http://www.theworldsstrongestman.com/. I’m just off to see how far I can pull the car…