In contrast to many of the other athletes at this year’s World’s Strongest Man competition, two-time reigning champion Tom Stoltman presents as unflappable, almost stoic, during the tournament’s qualifying stages. His rivals often seem keen to maximize their adrenaline in the leadup to each event – they fist pump at the crowd, scream into the sky, have a training partner slap them on the back and so on. Stoltman, on the other hand, stares calmly into the middle distance, outwardly oblivious to the crowds and television cameras just feet away from him. Such measured behavior is a learned trait and, in Stoltman’s view, is a competitive advantage.
“The first few years, I used to go mental in the qualifiers and jump up and down … I would have been showing my emotions more, being aggressive more, hyping up the crowd and stuff,” he says. This is no longer the case. “If I got really angry today, or if got really hyped up, it’s going to just drain me … [My] tank is going to be empty by the time the final comes … That’s why I don’t really go out of first gear in the qualifiers.”