World's Strongest Woman 2016

All the suitcases were packed; competition bag was ready. I had even think smart and spread competition gear over a suitcase and a bag, just in case our luggage got lost. I was only going to eat a little bit, then we were ready to go -  after I had put on a pair of socks. I sat on the bed to do this, and as I leaned forward, something tightened up in my back. The pain was so intense and I couldn't get up without help, so I cried hysterically for Egil. He came in, helped me into a standingposition, and led me into the living room, where he commanded me down on the floor. Instead of food, I got an hour psoas stretching.

It got a little better after that, and the trip to Rygge went relatively smoothly. As usual when Egil is in charge, we were too early at the airport, so there were long hours of waiting before the plane finally took of. The flight was a painful hell, and I had grim thoughts of Saturday's competition. How on earth was I going to be all right before that? I tried to settle down with "easy come, easy go," but my head wouldn't really listen to that.

Arriving in Manchester we fetched the rental car and started the trip north to Doncaster. Driving on the left side of the road stressed me- even though I was a passenger, so I sat there and read GPS, while Egil turned out to be a surprisingly good left driver. With lots of closed roads, a GPS that wasn't quite in touch with reality, and that send us out on scary narrow roads, we were at the hotel around 00.30AM. We checked in, unpacked and went to bed. - "My back would surely be better tomorrow" I said before I kissed Egil good night.

Thursday dawned, the sun shone through the windows and woke us up. I stretched before I turned around and got ready to get out of bed. Again pain went through my back. - "Damn!" I said, and rolled out of bed. Down on the floor for a new round of stretching of psoas, piriformis, lumbar and hamstrings. Painkillers were washed down with lukewarm Coke Zero, and then it was just to dress up and get off to breakfast.

In the restaurant we were seated together with Kristin Rhodes and her gang. I sat a long time and tried not to show that I was in pain, but eventually I just had to give in and get up to stretch an increasingly stiffer spine. I told her what had happened the day before, and was offered to lend foam roller and massage ball before we all went to York.

It was a lovely day in York. Good experiences with good people is always good, and most of the time I was almost painless. I rejoiced still inside me and thought this would be okay anyway. In fact, the whole day was almost painless, and I knew I was all fired up for Saturday's competition. I should - after all- compete in the World's Strongest Woman.

Friday morning started with rain and aching back again. This time it also beamed down in the right glute, so new rounds of stretching was done, painkillers were eaten and heat rub was smeared on in copious doses. During the day, the other competitors came, and the day was filled with hugging and lots of laughter. I aired my concerns around the back to Donna, and was told that Jenny could help me, so when she came asked Egil her if she could help me. Jenny was all in, and met up at our doorstep with her hands filled with a brutal looking foam roller and balls of different sizes and hardness. - "Lie down the floor and put this under your glute " Jenny said, and gave me a double massage ball. I did as she said, sobbing with pain. The ball hit trigger points which ensured that pain shone both down the thigh and into the back. After 15 minutes I was told to move the ball, and an hour later I had worked me through sore points all over the bum.

Then it was the erector's turn to get beaten. Painfully slowly tension relieved, and after another half hour I got up off the floor - painless. I could have wept with joy. Competition clothing was found, bags were packed with everything I needed of food, beverage and competition equipment, and everything was made ​​ready for the next morning. I had butterflies in my stomach and was delighted to finally be able to go to bed painless.

Competition day. A lovely sunny day with birdsong - and back pains. I swore loudly and went into the shower, where I cried my bravest tears while I washed my hair. I told myself over and over again that this was going to be okay, that it was only muscular pain and that they could not hurt me. It felt so darn unfair that I just hours before my life's most important competition would stand there with back pain.


Luckily I'm a Viking, so I bit my teeth together, and went over to the Doncaster Dome and athlete meeting before the competition starts. I can't deny that it was so cool to sit on the same athlete meeting as Nick Best and Mark Felix, this time as a athlete on a par with them, not as a crew member. I got start number ten in the first event, which was the Viking press, and was in good spirits. Dave, who was in charge of us all, had told it would be masseurs and physiotherapists present, so I went over to them. There I got a good massage and good stretching before I started warming up. When that was, I strolled around the competition arena, talked with old friends, greeted new friends and just had a good time.


Exactly at 1200 PM all athletes were introduced to the roughly counted 400 audiences who had arrived. My heart rate was soaring hard when Colin Bryce shouted my name and I ran in to the arena. Damn, this was awesome! So incredibly professional. I was happy - and almost painless again.


I'd been dreading for the first event. I'm not fond of press events at all, and even though the Vikings press so far has been my favourite, this appliance was so different than what we have in our unit. The lift off was extremely low, and I would have to stand at a 90-degree squat to lift it off. I asked Terry and Darren remove the mats the other girls had been standing on, and then I went into the press to lift off. I was aiming to get a rep, but I soon had to realize that 115 kg Viking press was too heavy.

I had been told by the masseuse to come back to her when I was finished with the first event, and even though I didn't have any pain, I went. I got adjusted a little in the back, got a light massage of the sore area, and then set of to warm up to yoke. The warm up went so easy! 210 kg were like paper on my shoulders, and I was absolutely sure that this was going to be good.

Since I got no result after the first event, I went out in the first pair, together with Olivia Lane from Ireland. The start signal went, lift of went smoothly and I went ... slowly. Excruciatingly slowly. God damn it, this was supposed to go fast! I simply did not have any strength in my legs. After seven meters I had to put down. I missed the first attempt at lift off again, and tried again. The crowd shouted that I couldn't give in, and I tried again. I got the yoke up and waddled off a few steps before I had to put it down again. I was completely out of power in my legs ... there was no strength in them. Absolutely none.

Furious I stomped out of the arena, tore off my belt and then, when I got outside I screamed HELVETE! so loud I could while I threw the belt into the side of a trailer standing there. Angry tears stood in my eyes and I screamed again. Behind me I heard Mark Felix say; "I do not know what you're saying, but I think I understand what you mean. Are you ok? "I told him I was not ok at all, and he patted my shoulder and said it probably would go well. Then I went into the hall again. I should, after all, soon do Silver Dollar Deadlift, and there I had plans to lift heavy weights. When I came inside one of the physios took me aside. She had observed my yoke, and had some ideas on what had happened. She did lots of research and testing, and concluded that there was a high probability of nerve damage at least, possibly also a prolapse. I did not say much, but inside me I cried. Prolapse and nerve damage I don't have the time for that!

Egil and I agreed that I would start to warm up to the deadlift, and if warming up was painless should I continue the competition. Well ... 60 kg deadlift was so painful that I almost cried, so then there was only one thing to do; tell Colin and Dave that I pulled out from the rest of the competition.

Heck, that sucked! Tears stood in my eyes when I went back to the contestant area after speaking with Dave. I was supposed to prove that I am to be reckoned with in the world of this wonderful sport. I was supposed to PB big in silver dollar deadlift, I was supposed to do a duck walk / farmers medley which would be remembered. Shit!

At that time, I ached so much that I was afraid that if I sat down, I would not be able to get up again, so I decided to stay in the athlete area. I got painkillers, and I walked around, got lots of good hugs and lots of love from my competitors, and everyone expressed concern about the pain they could see that I was in. Then the girls began to go lift. Start weight for all was 200 kg, and all did this with ease. For each lift weights were increased by 20 kg, and soon they were up on proper decent weights. First to finish was German Sandra, who was standing with 270 kg. Surprisingly many ended up at about 300 kg, and winner of the event was the Swede, Anna, who set a world record with a lift of 335 kg awesome kilos. Everyone in the audience cheered as she easily completed the lift.

While the master class did finish their car deadlift I'd had got a beer and, and had sat down. I thought I'd be a good girl and sit still for a while, but when duck walk / farmers medley began, I wasn't able to sit still. I hobbled down to the arena again and cheered my throat sore. This was an event I had been looking forward to, an event I knew I would do well in, so it was bitter to stand on the side, while the others were playing. Duckwalk is an event I deeply love, and I saw that I would have done very well in that part of the medley. All managed to lift up the total of 210 kg farmers, but very few managed to go 20 meters with them. It just seemed like that this was a too heavy medley after the heavy deadlift which had just been. Several of the girls said it, too, that the heavy deadlift had taken all the power in their legs.

Last event was stone, also an event I knew I would do well in. The stones were to be lifted up on whiskey barrels, which was closer to 140 cm tall. For people like me who measures 189 cm in my socks, 140 cm is not scary high, but if you are 165 cm, it immediately becomes worse. This was also shown when the girls did the even, very few managed heavier stone than 100 kg. Everyone in the hall knew that Donna Moore from England, who is the world record holder in stone lifting with a wonderful 148.2 kg, was the favourite in this event, and the audience were so loud when she easily ran through the entire series of five stones I cried and cheered interchangeably when she got up the last stone, for I knew that with the pace she had on the series, it would be almost impossible for the last athlete to beat her. And quite right; Lidia from Ukraine failed to beat Donna in this event.

I wasn?t the only one who wiped tears as Colin Bryce proclaimed Donna Moore WORLD'S Strongest WOMAN, a victory that was so well deserved. Donna is the world's strongest woman, that's just how it is.


Back home again I'm sitting here with a back that's still painful. I'm still sore in my soul because I had to pull out from the competition, I'm probably more mean to myself than necessary, but ... it's so bitter. I try to comfort myself with the fact that I was part of making history, and that I was actually on out of fifteen women who were picked to compete in this fantastic well-run competition. That is something to take with me on the way towards the next competition.

For ... there will be more competitions. This old bat is not done yet. ;)

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Kikki Berli-Johnsen

Kikki Berli-Johnsen

7, Stokke

Journalist og forfatterspire med en stor lidenskap for styrketrening og med stor kjennskap til dietter, lavkarbo, kosttilskudd, sportsernæring, næringskonsentrater og profiler innen de største kraftsportene i inn og utland. Lykkelig, gift, mamma til to, strongwoman, skrotløfter, aktiv, skravlesjuk, tenkende, skapende, kjærlig, egoistisk, navlebeskuende, kverulerende, nær, varm ... skrivende. Alltid skrivende.