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Cyprus strongmen pick up pick-ups (photos)

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On Saturday, the world’s strongest men descended on Limassol to pull municipal buses, hoist 200kg stones, and lift diplocambinos clean off the ground!

In a historic moment for the island, Cyprus played host to its first professional strongman competition on Saturday as the Strongman Champions League made its debut at the Limassol Old Port.

The event, under the auspices of the Limassol mayor and the Cyprus Ports Authority, saw professional strongmen from around the world converging to showcase feats of strength, stamina, and determination.

The event was hosted by Ilya Khazov – Cyprus’ strongman sensation – who designed five disciplines to test participants’ strength and stamina to the very limit. Among these were the Bus Pull, the Loading Medley, the Log Lift, the Atlas Stone Loading, and the Car Deadlift (or Diplocambino Deadlift, given that this was a local event!).

Participants included Brit Kane ‘The Hurricane’ Francis, ranked third in the Strongman’s Champion League; ‘Evans the Hulk’, a Ghanaian strongman and the Belgian deadlift record holder; and Ukrainian Pavlo Kordiyaka, the reigning Europe’s Strongest Man champion.

In total, 11 professional strongmen from countries as diverse as Japan, Poland and Bulgaria took part, wowing the nearly 1,000-strong crowd with their power.

By the end of the day-long event, Kordiyaka emerged the winner, closely followed by Francis in second place, and Nana in third.

“All three were so close on points,” said Ilya, “that the final event was the deciding factor. But it was Pavlo’s amazing display of technical ability and speed in hefting the 200-kilo stone to the top of massive wine barrel that ultimately won the day!”

Although Ilya himself did not compete in this event, his name is revered in strongman circles and the Lion of Limassol name is well-deserved.

In the two years since he turned professional, the 6 foot 5, 180kg 34-year-old has rocketed up the rankings, thanks to feats that include pulling a 29-tonne truck 20 metres in 30 seconds; deadlifting a 360kg tractor for 10 repetitions; and carrying a 500kg yoke for 20 metres!

Russian by birth, the 34-year-old nevertheless considers himself “a true Cypriot. Having lived on the island for over three decades, Cyprus is my home. And it felt fantastic to introduce the island to the thrilling world of professional strongmen.”

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In the future, Ilya hopes not only to host more local events of this type, but also to encourage more Cypriots to take the first steps to becoming professional strongmen and women.

“The people of Cyprus are so strong – not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. And that,” he concludes, “is exactly what it takes to be a professional strongman or woman: an iron will and the drive to survive.”

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