Oleksyi Novikov: We need to increase the popularity of strongmen
Oleksiy Novikov is a Ukrainian strongman. In 2020, he won the most prestigious tournament among strongmen – World’s strongest man. He is the second winner after Vasyl Virastyuk at this tournament in the history of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian hero became the youngest winner of this competition in history and was one of the “smallest” in weight. Directly at the tournament, Oleksiy set a new world record: he was able to pull a barbell weighing 537 kilograms.
And recently during the live broadcast of the special project Parimatch “Breakfast with the Champion” Oleksiy Novikov set a new record in Ukraine. He was able to carry a “Super Yoko” (rocker) weighing 500 kg for a distance of 10 meters.
Novikov spoke about his family, beard and his path from a thin teenager to the strongest man on the planet, revealed some details of the victory at WSM. The bogatyr shared his opinion on the development of strongman sports in Ukraine and the world, gave advice to young people and called to work tirelessly.
AT THE COMPETITION I HAD A TRAPEZIUS SPASM: I WAS WALKING IN AN UNNATURAL WAY
– Explain, please, to our readers, what is a strongman?
– Strongman is a sport created to determine the strongest person. There is weightlifting, there is powerlifting, there is crossfit, but there is no sport where you can determine who is the strongest, because someone pulls a lot, someone presses a lot. Strongman has a manifestation of all indicators of strength. Here endurance is important, understanding how to use your strength, where to apply it and etc.
We, for example, have such an exercise as “loading”. The usual “loading” can be the engine of the car, a safe where there are no special handles to take the item. We must figure out how to do it right. This is the beauty of this sport.
Every day you see people you looked up to 3-4 years ago, legends
– If you take the physical component: how difficult was it to triumph at WSM? This was your second performance in this competition (the first time you could not make it to the finals).
– We had four competitive days. Every day after the competition part, my whole body hurt. All muscles (some more, some less) were involved in the exercises. I showed my maximum in each exercise in qualifying for the finals. I have experience when I could not reach the finals, so I immediately gave all the best.
Honestly, it was very difficult. I had a trapezius spasm after the first day. I noticed myself walking in an unnatural way. There was a very strong tension.
In general, the competition turned out to be difficult, both morally and physically. I am 24 years old, I am new to sports. It is morally difficult, because every day you see people you looked up to three or four years ago, the legends of our industry. This is absolutely a manifestation of strength: you have to be strong mentally, you have to keep a clear head. It was an honor for me to just perform with them.
ALL ATHLETES WERE READY BUT SOMEONE’S SHOULDER JOINT WAS OUT OF THE BAG DURING THE EXERCISE
– Tell us, please, in more detail, what exactly were the exercises that had to be performed in the final part?
– I remember the schedule of the whole tournament. In the final part there were six exercises. The first exercise is a relay. We had to lift an anvil weighing 136 kilograms and carry it for about 12 meters. Then it was necessary to run to the “Super Yoke”, it’s a rocker weighing about 450 kilograms. In this format, it is important not to drop the object, to lift it correctly. If we lift something quickly, we can break the muscles, and this is the end of the competition.
It is also important to choose equipment: gloves or a sticky towel. If you have not guessed with the equipment, you must “use” your mind and speed of reaction.
The second task was traction, where I set a world record (537 kilograms). The specificity of the exercise is that there is a starting weight of 400 kilograms, which then increases. Participants, depending on whether they were able to lift this weight, continued to perform, or dropped out. In the final for the last weight we have four athletes. Three did not pull the barbell, I pulled and set a new world record.
The next exercise was throwing beer pins weighing 18 to 25 kilograms over a bar of five meters. There were eight of them. At the expense of one force you will not complete the task. You need to direct the pin at the right angle so that it does not hit the bar and bounce back. A striking example of why it is worth throwing correctly happened to “the strongest man in Ukraine.” I threw the projectile incorrectly and a 30-kilogram cover fell on my back. This fact also influenced the fact that I took second place then.
The next exercise at WSM was to hold the logs arms outstretched (160 pounds per arm). All athletes were ready for this, but in some during this exercise, the shoulder joint came out of the bag. This is a specific exercise, because during its implementation the joint is not in a natural position. I held the logs for 41 seconds.
The next exercise is another relay with an elevator (lifting objects). There, too, is very important technique. The last exercise was bullets. Since the winner is determined by the sum of all the results, it was enough for me to raise four balls to win. I approached this exercise with a good supply of points. I picked up these balls first and became the strongest man in the world.
We need a platform on television to increase the popularity of this sport
THE FORMAT OF THE COMPETITION ORGANIZATION IN UKRAINE IS AN EXAMPLE OF OUR COUNTRY IN MINIATURE
– You have become the strongest man in the world – and this, of course, raised your authority, although in your career there were 150 competitions, many victories, you are four times the strongest man in Ukraine. In your opinion, what are the prospects for a strongman in Ukraine?
– There are several options for this development, but it is necessary to change the concept of competition in general, to translate it into a commercial channel. We need a platform on television to increase the popularity of this sport. In addition, it is important that the organizers put the development of sports in the first place, not earnings. In my opinion, the problem of why sports in Ukraine are developing in such small steps is precisely this. When you see an international competition and compare it with the Ukrainian “bogatyrs” (the most prestigious tournament in Ukraine), you will understand what the problem is.
I do not want to talk about the federation, but the difference is huge. We need to change the concept, we need to change our managers. As sad as it may be, the format of the competition in Ukraine is an example of our country in miniature, under a microscope. I understand perfectly that charity begins at home, but there are some rules of etiquette, rules of business. We see that we have really high-quality personalities and athletes, but there are questions on other points.
To achieve something, you need to invest a lot
– Tell me, please, do you think the amount of prizes is satisfactory, do you have enough for training, recovery, team, banal flight, food?
– It is more difficult for us to get good sponsorship contracts due to the low purchasing power of Ukrainians. In addition, there is almost no support from the country. To achieve something, you need to invest a lot.
I HAVE ALREADY SPENT ABOUT FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR MY DEVELOPMENT IN SPORTS
– How much does your “counter” show?
– I have already spent about four hundred thousand dollars on my development in sports. The amount is very large: I worked only for sports, my family helped me. There were some sponsors, but that’s not really enough. All the money I earn now I again invest in myself to win other competitions. The more you invest, the more you get.
– How much has the attitude of Ukrainians towards you changed after winning the World’s strongest man?
– People stopped me, took photos, thanked me. I was in the Carpathians, where I was given equipment for rent for free. I am very pleased to feel the respect and love of our people. Some people tell me to move to another country, to the United States, to England, but I am very happy that I am Ukrainian and that the people who live here inspire me.
It was an honor to work with a man like Iron Arnie
“WE SMOKED WITH “IRON ARNI”
– I heard that you know Arnold Schwarzenegger. Tell us, under what conditions did you meet?
– We saw each other several times at competitions. He then invited the athletes to his home. We had dinner there. He gave us a tour of his house, introduced us to his pets: a few dogs, two ponies.
As usual, he offered everyone cigars: we smoked with Iron Arnie. I do not smoke, but at such moment it was a sin to refuse such a person. It was an honor to do business with such a person.
The brother said, “Oleksyi, look at yourself, what a bogatyr you are .”
– Why did you start playing strongman, were you inspired by your family?
– In the transition period, people begin to look for themselves. In general, the family’s attitude to this sport was positive. Being an athlete is cool. I went to boxing, but I was banned because it was dangerous. After the first call to the competition, I finished boxing.
Then he went to the strongman: it’s hard, dangerous, and parents want their children to be as healthy as possible and not know grief. I was thin and small. Returning to the physique, my brother said to me: “Oleksyi, look at yourself, what a bogatyr you are?” I’ve been analyzing this path from a little boy to the present, I look at myself with a smile – and I’m happy. It wasn’t easy.
– What qualities of character should you have to be a strongman?
– Most importantly, you need to love what you do. People say I’m goal-oriented and hardworking, although I think I’m really lazy. I just love what I do.
THERE ARE NO SUPERSTITIES – THERE IS PREPARATION
– What advice would you give to the younger generation who want to be a strongman? I understand correctly that you do not need to immediately try to lift a hundred pounds?
– Many people lift conditionally one hundred kilograms incorrectly and, thank God, if they simply do not lift them. As for advice, I have two theses. First, love what you do and do it well. Secondly, where you invest, you get from there. This applies to everything: sports and relationships with girls, parents, friends, work, study. The more you invest your energy, time, money, the more you get.
I hope that people will stop complaining about life and start working. It all starts with yourself. If we all create good conditions around us, then we will have everything in general.
– Do you have your own hacks in training, how do you differ from other athletes?
– Once I go to the competitions, I enter the warrior mode. In competitions, apart from the goal, I am not interested in anything else. I can release adrenaline into my body out of anger. I don’t go beyond barriers in training.
– Do you have any prejudices?
– I think not. They used to be. I tried to go to the hairdresser and get a haircut accordingly. I later realized that it didn’t work because I lost the competition. There were happy socks, but I realized that it doesn’t work either – I lost again. Then I realized that we are responsible for certain circumstances. There are no prejudices, there is training.
I LIKE A BEARD – I THINK IT’S HARMONIOUS
– Does your beard mean anything or is it just part of your style?
– No, it’s just my preference. Some write all sorts of comments on social networks. I like the beard, I think it’s harmonious. In general, I do not understand why people think they know better what to do with others. Take care of your business, learn, develop – and you will be happy. You will not have time to tell others what to do.
– How many phone calls do you need to make to find out Arnold Schwarzenegger’s number?
– Well, I think – one. I have his number.
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