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Martins Licis Wins the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic

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The Arnold Sports Festival is a massive event for the fitness community, giving members of the industry a place to gather in Columbus, Ohio that mashes up the hobnobbing of a trade expo with high level competitions and the pomp and circumstance of a carnival—with a figurehead like Arnold Schwarzenegger, there’s no way it couldn’t be a big deal. and for the sport of competitive strongman, there are few larger stages for athletes to perform than the annual Arnold Strongman Classic contest.

This year was especially important for the sport, since the contest wasn’t held in 2021 due to the pandemic. The competitive landscape looked much different than the last show for more than just the missed year, too—Hafthor Björnsson a.k.a. The Mountain won the title three years running before retiring from the sport to prep for his boxing grudge match with Eddie Hall, slated to finally take place later this month. But one of the men who graced the podium with Björnsson in the previous Arnold Classic competitions took the top spot by the time the dust settled over the past weekend. Martins Licis, the 2019 World’s Strongest Man winner who had finished in the Arnold’s runner-up and third place slot in 2019 and 2020, respectively, clinched the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic title after a balanced performance that saw him place in the top four of each of the competition’s five events.

Licis squatted 956 pounds, pressed a massive 440-pound log rig cheekily given the moniker “The Austrian Oak” after the event’s namesake, and lifted a massive stone to his shoulder—winning the final event outright—to secure the title. He was closely followed by 2020 World’s Strongest Man champ Oleksii Novikov in the runner-up position, while Luke Stoltman (brother of 2021 World’s Strongest Man Tom Stoltman) and Bobby Thompson tied for third.

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Licis is on a hot streak after a long layoff from competition for much of 2020 and 2021 as he recovered from injuries sustained from training and after being hit by a car. But in late 2021 he came roaring back to the competition stage with a win at the Rogue Invitational. Now, with the Arnold Classic title in hand, he’s won just about every major strongman event.

“I’ve been wanting to claim this title for a long time, so I’m putting my heart into this one,” Licis said in a Rogue promo video ahead of the competition. Now that he’s won the Arnold, the only question is how much further he will go to establish his legacy in the sport. Licis hasn’t declared his plans for next steps just yet, according to BarBend—but he could continue his dominance at strongman’s next big event, the World’s Strongest Man, later this May.

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