All photos by Chantelle D’mello
Eight of the country’s most muscular residents spent Friday night flipping truck tires, hauling massive metal rods and lifting the end of a Toyota Camry at Aspire Park in a bid to be named Qatar’s Strongest Man.
Forty-year-old Fahad Al Haddad emerged as the victor, beating out seven other competitors in a series of challenges that also including lifting 180kg bags of sands and pulling a five-ton truck.
First-time participant Thamer Al Kuwari said the 20-meter tire flip was the most strenuous challenge:
“That thing was heavy!” he told Doha News. “I think I did pretty good, but I got dizzy when the tire flipped back on me and hit me on my face.”
In a more serious injury, Talal Al Kuwari – the winner of last year’s competition – tore his bicep while attempting to carry a 90kg metal rod in each hand for 20 meters.
Now in its third year, the competition pits Qatari nationals against one another in a series of intense tasks. Three referees timed each attempt, and contestants were awarded points based on agility and pace.
For some, the contest proved to be about more than physical strength.
Thamer Al Kuwari said his biggest hurdle was staying focused and confident that his body could complete each challenge:
“We didn’t expect such a huge crowd. I was very nervous … I didn’t think I would be that nervous.
It was mainly a lot of mental challenges, questioning whether you can do it or not. When (the sandbag) slipped from my hand in the first event, I wasn’t hearing people cheering. I was hearing people laughing,” he added.
The eight finalists were selected following a qualification tournament earlier this month that attracted 40 entrants.
Once he learned he had qualified, Thamer Al Kuwari said he switched up his daily training regimen:
“I started focusing on the main group muscles that I was going to be using at the event. So I started doing heavyweight lunges, heavyweight deadlifts … and squats. Basically anything that stressed me the most,” he said.
Al Kuwari, who finished fifth in last night’s competition, said that he also included exercises to help strengthen his core, as the stomach muscles were vital in maintaining heavy loads and balance for extended periods of time.
The increasing popularity of the contest comes as the country is encouraging residents to be more active in an effort to reduce Qatar’s high rates of obesity.
Some of last night’s competitors said they hoped the competition would motivate others to exercise and occasionally hit the gym.
“The event also helps encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle … maybe not to this extent, but at least they see us and they know that it’s possible,” Al Haddad added.
Based on the success of last night’s event, organizers say they’re planning to open next year’s edition to both expats and Qataris.