Who is the strongest man in the world? On Sunday in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, the answer may be revealed.
From Thursday to Sunday, a competition to discover the world's strongest man is held in the city's Yancheng Chunqiu Amusement Park. Coming from 20 countries, 22 world-class strongmen will battle it out for the championship.
Contestants flex their muscles during the World's Strongest Man Competition in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, on Thursday. [China Daily]
The strongmen will participate in 14 events, including throwing a beer keg backward, pulling a car on a bridge and lifting a jeep.
On Sunday the top three competitors will join world record holders in strength challenges in an attempt to break three Guinness World Records.
Some of the events have a distinct Chinese twist, such as lifting a bronze ding, an ancient Chinese cauldron. The two bronze ding weigh 140 kilograms.
Shang Yuefeng, one of the top three competitors from the strongest man trial competition in China, failed to lift the two ding, but said he was not surprised.
"I'm well informed that there is a big gap between Chinese competitors and our foreign peers," said the 25-year-old, who is 1.85 meters tall and weighs 132 kilograms.
"My purpose in attending this competition is to learn from them. Their performance, so powerful and invincible, lured me to this field when I was little," Shang said while waiting his turn to hold up a 25-kilogram sword for as long as possible.
"A man should have strength and show his masculinity," Shang said.
Travis Ortmayer, a competitor from the United States, said he came to China to win the competition.
"God made me for this," Ortmayer said. "It's so much fun and so cool to be a modern barbarian."
The world's top strongmen all know each other and are friends.
"Every time I come to a competition, it's like going back to a family," said the 1.93-meter-tall Ortmayer, who has been participating in this competition for the past nine years.
Shang said strongmen competitions were not very popular in China compared to other countries.
"China doesn't have professionals in this field, and as far as I know, the country has less than 50 people participating in it."
Shang works for a fitness club in Zibo, Shandong province, and can only exercise in his spare time.
"I hope more attention will be paid to this game in China," Shang said.
His hope has a big chance to become a reality in the future.
Wan Fujun, manager of a fitness club in Changzhou, brought more than 50 of the club's members to watch the competition. Some of the members are only 7 years old.
"This game combines sports with entertainment, and is about transcending a human being's physical limits," said Chen Ruizhong, manager of the amusement land's planning department. "Many local residents came to watch the game in spite of the summer weather and it's very popular among local people."
Agris Kazelniks, a strongman from Latvia, frowns after holding up a 25-kg sword for as long as possible in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, on Thursday. [China Daily]