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We congratulate our newest member of Team HMB, John Conner, on his first win in the professional strongman world! This past weekend, John competed in Pennsylvania and got first place. Here he describes what the event and the win was like for him:
“I had a great time in Philadelphia. Al Thompson really knows how to run a meet and how to treat the competitors. I am looking to compete at this event again next year…and am already craving Philly cheese steaks!
The crowds at the event were absolutely amazing. In the baseball stadium, there were over 7,000 people screaming and cheering us on for the atlas stones event. They went absolutely nuts when I was the first competitor to load all five stones.
The other competitors are world class strength athletes that I have looked up to for many years and I felt honored just to be competing alongside of them. It definitely made me nervous, but at the same time it pushed me to show them and everyone else that I belonged in the competition. They were all great competitors, helping me all day and teaching me new techniques to improve my game.
Stones are one of my favorite events. It’s pretty rare that I find a stone I can’t load, so I had more than enough confidence that I would finish this event. The only tricky part is that they were placed 45 feet apart, so it was a pretty far run from one to the other. For being 400 pounds, my speed surprised everyone. I got through all five stones in a little over 50 seconds, only having trouble on the last stone. The last stone’s weight was a piece of cake at only 380 pounds, but it was difficult to manage because it was brand-new and still pretty slick and dusty. Once I got to it, I gave it a shot but couldn’t get a grip. I stood back up and briefly gathered myself, then bent down, dug deep and squeezed it with everything I had for the last load. Overall, even with a slight grip issue, I placed third in this event.
Truck harness pull was the one event I was not looking forward to, I have always had trouble with truck pulls in the past and haven’t had the space to train for them very often. Once the whistle blew I started pulling with everything I had, but I could feel that my body was not working together. The overall times were fairly close, but even being just a few seconds off from the leader put me in eighth place for the event.
Hummer arm over arm was my shot to come back for the win. It was a Hummer loaded down with people, but wasn’t even a challenge for me to pull 60 feet. I have a pretty solid technique where I pull with only one arm and use the other to hold and steady the rope. The other competitors were using two arms for the pull and kept getting the rope bunched up, which cost them time. I finished the course in a little over 15 seconds for the win.
Tire flip sled drag could go many different ways in a meet. I think the weights and distances that were chosen were perfect. We used a 1,000-pound tire and a sled with a police motorcycle. While warming up, most people were having trouble flipping the tire, but I flipped it a few times pretty easily, so I wasn’t too worried. I was going head to head with Steve McDonald and was determined to get the win because he is a serious competitor. The whistle blew and I bobbled the tire a bit, which put me behind. I don’t know what came over me, but I became extremely aggressive and easily started manhandling the tire, and in no time I caught up to Steve. After the tire, we sprinted to the drag and I pulled with everything I had. I started to gain a lead to finish, but ended up finishing second in this event.
Log pressing is definitely something I am known for. However, log pressing with 305 pounds as the fifth event was new to me and kind of shocked my body. I could tell warming up that I was a little off. Watching the other competitors struggle for the reps gave me confidence but I also questioned how worn out I was. When I started, everything felt great, but I realized that I was getting tired. I hit six reps with a good deal of work and just missed the seventh. The winner got seven, so even though I only had six reps, I still tied for second place.
If I could choose one event for the competition to hold my fate, it was the Hummer tire dead lift. During warm-ups I felt great. From the opener at 600 pounds to a little over 800 pounds, I pulled the belt with ease. I ended up pulling 905 pounds for a new personal record and third place in this event.
This competition made me feel great. This was my first professional win and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to get it!”