On April 24, 2022, the World’s Strongest Man (WSM) organization announced that Rauno Heinla withdrew from the 2022 WSM, set to take place at the end of May. A couple of hours after the news broke, Canadian Mitchell Hooper was announced as Heinla’s replacement.
Heinla last competed in this event in the 2011 WSM. This year was to mark the Estonian athlete’s formal return to the competition. He addressed the reason for the withdrawal in a post on his Instagram profile:
In the post’s caption, Heinla writes that he had to spend some time in the hospital following a recent 536.6-kilogram Silver Dollar deadlift (1,183 pounds). It’s undoubtedly an unfortunate turn of events for the strongman.
“In short, what happened [was] bad luck this time,” Heinla writes. “I did a Silver Dollar deadlift and got a problem with [my] stomach. I was three days in a hospital [and] will not specify details.”
Heinla did not dwell on his unexpected misfortune of missing his second-ever WSM competition. After taking some needed time off, he’s already looking ahead and staying positive.
“Now I need [to] take easy two months and then will be starting again [on my] roads to my goals,” Heinla writes. “And my goals are still big.”
Heinla’s last professional competition was the 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man in early April 2022. He finished in 12th place, while Oleksii Novikov won the event.
Twenty-six year old strongman Mitchell Hooper is set to take Heinla’s place, per a quick announcement from the WSM organization.
Here is the updated 2022 WSM roster with Heinla’s withdrawal and Hooper’s addition:
2022 WSM Roster, Updated
- Tom Stoltman (United Kingdom) — Reigning WSM Champion
- Brian Shaw (United States) — 2021 WSM 2nd place
- Maxime Boudreault (Canada) — 2021 WSM 3rd place
- Mitchell Hooper (Canada)
- Pavlo Kordiyaka (Ukraine)
- Rob Kearney (United States)
- Gabriel Peña (Mexico)
- Kelvin de Ruiter (Netherlands)
- Kim Ujarak (Greenland)
- Mark Felix (United Kingdom)
- Pa O’Dwyer (Ireland)
- Shane Flowers (United Kingdom)
- Jean-Stephen Coraboeuf (Australia)
- Bobby Thompson (United States)
- Aivars Smaukstelis (Latvia)
- Adam Bishop (United Kingdom)
- Evan Singleton (United States)
- Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted (Iceland)
- Konstantine Janashia (Georgia)
- Charles “Trey” Mitchell (United States)
- Mika Törrö (Finland)
- Peiman Maheripourehir (Iran)
- Luke Stoltman (United Kingdom)
- Bobby Thompson (United States)
- Kevin Faires (United States)
- Nedžmin Ambešković (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
- Gabriel Rheaume (Canada)
- Martins Licis (United States)
- Gavin Bilton (United Kingdom)
- Oleksii Novikov (Ukraine)
Hooper at a Glance
With all things considered, Hooper is relatively new to the professional strongman scene.
According to his website, the 26-year-old Hooper broke out when he deadlifted 475 kilograms (1047.2 pounds) while weighing under 140 kilograms. Hooper did not disclose his equipment for that pull. Hooper also recently won the 2021 Static Monsters Worldwide (SMW) competition, where he initially notched a new world record total of 665 kilograms (1,466 pounds) — between the axle deadlift and the overhead log press.
Notably, following the 2021 SMW, Hooper writes that he felt he didn’t properly lock out a 200-kilogram log press (440.9 pounds). As such, he withdrew the press from his record total because he didn’t feel it was worthy of a world record. His 465-kilogram Axle deadlift (1,025 pounds) from the event remains in place.
In other near-term ambitions, Hooper says he’d like to break the current deadlift world record at the 2022 Giants Live Open and World Deadlift Championships (WDC), which will take place on August 6, 2022.
2018 WSM Champion Hafthor Björnsson possesses the deadlift mark to beat with a 501-kilogram pull (1,104.5-pound), set at the 2018 World’s Ultimate Strongman (WUS). 2017 WSM Champion Eddie Hall is the only other member of the exclusive deadlift club, with his precise 500-kilogram (1,104.5-pound) pull set at the 2016 Giants Live event. Both men wore lifting straps, a lifting belt, and deadlift suits for their respective pulls.
At the time of publishing, Hooper has not publicly acknowledged his new place in the 2022 WSM. Nonetheless, it will be his first-ever WSM competition, where he’s assuredly hoping to make an impression.
The 2022 WSM will take place on May 24-29 in Sacramento, CA.
Featured Image: @rauno_heinla on Instagram