World’s Strongest Man favorite Oleksii Novikov has been given a big task – and that’s training while living in a war zone.
Novikov, 27, is from Ukraine and is preparing for the WSM together with his Ukrainian comrades.
He is the 2020 WSM Champion and reigning Europe’s Strongest Man.
However, Novikov and his Ukrainian compatriots have been living in an ongoing war with Russia for over a year.
The 6-foot-1, 295-pound man spoke to The US Sun in early April and described how they had received a message just a day before the interview that they would face rocket attacks that night.
“And with this news I have to go to sleep,” he said.
It was a tragic time for Novikov, who suffered many casualties as a result of the war.
He told the US Sun: “Civilians are dying every day. And we have a missile attack[s] every week.
“Many [of my] Friends, many strong men died [during] this war.
“And of course you can’t adapt [to] the death of one of your friends. And it’s very difficult.”
In 2022, Novikov was coping with life in a war while also training by breaking world records when he set a Flintstone Barbell World Record at WSM 2022.
Novikov has been gearing up for WSM 2023 alongside fellow Ukrainian contenders Pavlo Nakonechnyy and Pavlo Kordiyaka, who spoke to The US Sun last month.
At the 2023 European Strongman competition, held on April 1 in Leeds, England, Kordiyaka won the title and Novikov a silver medal.
All in all, Novikov believes the WSM is an event that commemorates the nation’s support for the ongoing conflict.
The 27-year-old said: “It’s very important for us, for any country like America, like [the] United Kingdom and another country [to] support Ukraine. It is very important.
“If these countries do not support us, we will lose this war and I cannot speak to you now.
“And thank you for this support – every country that supports us.
“And we have to talk about this problem and about Ukraine, because we need more support, because if we have more support, we cannot lose so many Ukrainian civilians and soldiers.”
And Novikov firmly believes in doing his part for Ukraine – and it shows how strong the country can be.
“And of course I want to win because I want to show Ukraine that they are the strongest nation in the world and my wins will be very important proof of that.”
WSM will be held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina from April 19th to 23rd and will include Novikov, Kordiyaka and Nakonechnyy.