On May 5th 2020, Hafthor Björnsson deadlifted 501kg (1,105lbs). The lift was the heaviest weight hauled off the ground in sports history, beating Eddie Hall's previous 2016 record of 500kg by a single kilo.
The lift saw Björnsson cement himself in the history books of strength sport, beating the previous record at his home gym in Reykjavík, Iceland under the approval of strongman referee Magnus Ver Magnusson. But, the event wasn't without its controversy. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Björnsson didn't do the lift in sanctioned competition conditions: a move that landed him in hot water in certain strongman circles and, of course, with his rival and soon-to-be boxing opponent Eddie Hall.
Despite a lot of criticism — from his peers in the sport and online keyboard warriors — Björnsson and his team were incredibly precise about the WR lift, weighing each plate, barbell and bar collar individually to ensure that it was a fair and precise event. Following competition standards, the Reign athlete took 15 minutes between each effort (he began 'warming up' at 420kg, then at 465kg) with his final 501kg lift looking remarkably smooth. It was a stark contrast from Eddie Hall's deadlift in 2016, which saw him bleed from every orifice.
It was so smooth, in fact, that a lot of viewers (the lift was streamed on YouTube, ESPN and Twitch) and fellow athletes believed Björnsson could've chased heavier numbers instead of topping Hall's WR lift by just a kilo. In a recent interview with Men's Health UK, Björnsson shared how he could have gone heavier but, also, why he decided not to.
"I didn't really know how my body would react afterwards, you know, of course after seeing Eddie doing his 500[kg] and he almost died. He didn't look good. He was bleeding through his eyes, nose, ears and he fell down and seeing that, you think 'is this going to be worth it?' but I pulled the weight and I felt great... My body was not close to giving up. I felt very strong going into that lift."
"In my opinion... I strongly believe I could've pulled 510kg on that day. Possibly more. It's hard to say. Every kilogram on that [barbell] is a lot." He's not wrong — a nine kilo jump would have changed the world record lift significantly, but is this something we can look forward to in a sanctioned strongman event soon? Or, with 'The World's Strongest Fight' looming, perhaps it's all behind us. Time will tell.
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