|the crowd at Pro Raw X - max capacity seating|
Friends like Kat Becker and Joel McCaughan, who I have known for as long as I have been lifting.
Max McCall is another young strongman to rise through the ranks and into the national opens. This year was his first ASM and he faced a truly menacing field. While I am certain he is disappointed with the results I am also certain he will be back next year, and he will impress. Although maybe in a lighter weight class...
Last but not least among the strong folk I must mention is Ngarimu Ahipene, who took fifth in the under 90s and is another hybrid crossfitter making the ranks of fat slow strongmen work harder to stay competitive.
Of course it's been known for years now that there are titans of strength sports living here in the west. That number has grown again this year, with the introduction of the scary Dylan Hellriegel who - at just twenty two years old - weighs something over 160 kilos and is now the second Australian ever to deadlift 400. He earned an invite to Big Dogs with his efforts at Pro Raw.
Shannon Florissen is a creature from another time. A time when men fought sabre-tooths and champions were made from hours of grinding, pain and sweat under the bar. He doesn't do a lot of talking, instead making all his biggest statements on the platform. This year Shannon totalled 1000 kilograms. This makes him the only west Australian to ever do that, raw or equipped. That is an incredible feat; a total most lifters will devote their lives to achieving and not get even close to.
This year's Arnolds was also an occasion for some sombre news: WA Strongman's own Daniel Macri announced his retirement from full competition. At just twenty eight years of age, Dan dominated Powerlifting as a teen and went on to produce some awe-inspiring feats as a nearly 180 kilogram strongman.
Veteran Luke Reynolds has already written an homage to the young phenome, who officially put Strongman on the map in WA nearly a decade ago and who became my coach when I discovered the sport in 2011. I won't attempt to match Luke's sentiment here, save to say that the bar Dan has set will not be challenged for a long time to come. That is unless the rumors are true...
We are just three months into this year and it's already a record breaker. There is still so much more to come.