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Strongman Oleskii Novikov has become the first Ukrainian-born athlete to win Europe’s Strongest Man title.
In an emotional victory for Novikov, he lead the overall results with 52 points, beating out second placed Luke Stoltman of Scotland by four points.
The event was held at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, England, and was sanctioned by Giants Live, one of the most prestigious organisations in the sport.
Novikov was commended for his strength and determination within the competition, with his fight likened to that his country is currently displaying.
He said in a post-competition interview: “I dedicate this victory to Ukraine. We will win and we're the strongest, remember this. I won't say anything bad… publicly, but we're the strongest, remember this.”
The win marks Novikov’s first-ever Europe’s Strongest Man title, and a historic first win for his home nation.
Since beginning his strongman journey in 2016, his resumé includes a victory in the annual World’s Strongest Man competition and multiple Ukraine’s Strongest Man titles.
Novikov temporarily paused his military commitments for Ukraine in order to compete in the competition, but will now return to the frontline of the war-torn country
A few of the sport’s biggest names took their time to show their respect to Novikov.
Former World’s Strongest Man, Eddie Hall, who recently went toe-to-toe with The Mountain, Hafthor Bjornsson inside the boxing ring, praised Novikov and wished him well as he returned to Ukraine.
He said: “Well done for an incredible performance last night. Europe’s Strongest Man 2022. He’s heading home and heading straight back to the front line to defend his country of Ukraine. Sending prayers and best wishes back with you.”
Meanwhile, second-placed Luke Stoltman also lent his congratulations.
He said: “All from different countries but all showing respect. Supporting our brother in his victory and in his fight to have peace in his country. I love this sport, and I love the respect we all show.”
Stoltman took home Europe’s Strongest Man title last year, and is a five-time winner of Scotland’s Strongest Man.
Novikov took to Instagram to celebrate his victory and once again praise the spirit of Ukraine.
In the caption, he said: “Without fatigue and incessantly, I prove that Ukrainians are a glorious Cossack family, and are one of the strongest nations on the planet.
“He would continue, saying: “I hope for many Ukrainians this victory has become symbolic, and will give our defenders the mood and raise the fighting spirit, we will win, there is no doubt.
“Everything will be Ukraine, we deserve to live better.”
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/ Oleksii Novikov
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