Episode Five: Rob Kearney video transcript

Radzi: The self-titled World's Strongest Gay, Rob Keaney. He holds the American record for the log press and a three times World's Strongest Man competitor.


Radzi: Welcome to Making Gains in association with the University of Derby and Finnebrogue Nakes Bacon, the biggest revolution to happen to British breakfast in a generation. That I’m absolutely pumped to say our guest on today's show is one of the strongest human beings walking planet Earth. He is the American log press record holder. He is one of the nicest men in the entire strongman community. Also their self-titled World's Strongest Gay, Rob Keaney. Welcome to Making Gains. Thank you very much for waking up early for this because it's, what time where you are?

Rob: Uh it is 6 a.m right now.

Radzi: So it is early and you still got a smile on your face but I’ve got to start by talking about the word courage, because that's the word I often think about when I think of you, because it's one thing coming out as an openly gay strongman the only person to do it in the professional community but it's another thing to have your hair in a rainbow mohawk, which looks incredible by the way having rainbow coloured lycra and basically say to the world I am what I am, I don't give a, I don't care what you think.

Rob: Yeah you know it's um it definitely was a statement and you know the, it started out with just the leggings, um back when I was God, I was competing as a, as a 105 kilo athlete, um back in 2015 when I first met my husband Joey, and um you know it just kind of evolved into you know, just from wearing some bright orange lycra, all the way to you know the crazy rainbow swirlies that we see now and you know, talking about the mohawk, so World's Strongest Man 2019 uh was slated to be one of my best competitions and to this day it still was and World's Strongest Man that year happening in the U.S. in Florida in June which is pride month and really decided to just come out and make a statement, as you know this is my first World Strongest Man in the United States. I had competed twice before but it was Botswana, in the Philippines, so you know being on home soil during pride month you know, I wanted to kind of make that statement and show my pride and my true colours, coming into World's Strongest Man that year so you know not only was I favourited to be in the finals, um but it was also you know kind of me making a statement, and like you said kind of saying you know I’m here, this is me, I’m not afraid of what anybody thinks anymore and uh really just you know was able to kind of you know hold my head high and be really proud of that entire competition.

Radzi: When did you come online? When did you almost just be totally accepting of who you are and just have that courage and where does that courage come from because I imagine there are a lot of people around the world who just don't feel like they could do what you do.

Rob: So I came out on October 20th of 2014. Um and at that point in my life so I had turned pro as a 105 Strong Man in November of 2013, was at this point in my life I was, I was in graduate school and really just was trying to figure out who the hell I was, and I you know, I wasn't happy with my current situation and where I was in life, and you know I was living the quote unquote heteronormative life I guess is what you would say you know, like I was in a relationship with a girl and waking up every single day putting on this facade of pretending to be somebody I wasn't was exhausting. You know, I finally woke up one day and I was like you know why am I doing this you know, I’m not happy, this isn't me and you know decided to start figuring out who I was for myself to try to live the life that I’ve been putting out on social media and living in front of everybody but deep inside was just miserable and unhappy. So you know I started you know kind of coming to terms with my sexuality and um actually you know met Joey um you know while I was still you know quote unquote in the closet. I wasn't even out yet and him and I started dating and you know it was really a lot a lot of why it came out was because of him, you know him and I got into this relationship and we were dating for I think it was about a month and a half at the point where I decided to come out and I realised you know, we're 22 years old, he had already been out since he was 17 and I didn't feel that it was fair for him to be in a relationship with somebody who wasn't open and accepting of themselves. Um you know so I started coming out to my friends and family, um you know in person and over the phone and then kind of made the proclamation via social media on October 20th. Um you know and not realising that at the time you know it wasn't because there was no only there was no other openly gay professional Strong Man it was honestly just because I wanted to be happy and live my life how I knew I needed to.

Radzi: Who was the first person you told when you, when you did come out?

Rob: Oh gosh, um I think it was uh one of my best friends in, in from from graduate school. Um we were at the gym together and I told him, um you know that, that, that I'm gay and you know having these feelings and he was over the moon excited for me, um and just so accepting you know I mean he, I think he, he started crying before I did, which was pretty amazing, um just to get that support and uh you know that love right off the bat and you know that was that was pretty much the overwhelming experience that I had when I came out, you know it was, um a lot of love and support from everybody, you know friends, family and everyone in the strongman community as well because you know at that time I wasn't well known in the sport you know I was competing as a 105 kilo athlete I wasn't at, I wasn't a heavyweight yet, I wasn't competing at Worlds and doing all these big shows. Um so, so it was really amazing to still have that support as somebody that wasn't that well known at that point.

Radzi: And was it scary coming out to your parents? A friend of mine when he came out to his dad was the one he was really worried about and his dad's uh a man's man and he actually owns an abattoir and so when he told his dad, to my friends, I won't say his name in case he listens but he's about five foot eight, his dad's about six, four and he owns his abattoir and he told his dad he'd already told his Mum and his sister and he said you know, Dad I’ve got something to tell you I don't know how you're going to react, I think I should tell you and I’m gay and I realise that and I think it's right that you know and his Dad apparently paused and deep looked really deeply into his eyes and said there's one rule with any boyfriend you bring home, no people that don't eat meat, they've got to eat meat all right? He shook his hand he agreed and then they've been cool ever since, and I love him and it wasn't nearly as big a thing as he was expecting. He built up in his head and he kind of turned into a living nightmare and he thought I cannot deal with this anymore I’ve just got to tell the man what was it like telling your parents?

Rob: Yeah you know I mean I wasn't terribly nervous coming out to my Mom. Um her sister was a lesbian so I knew my Mom was super accepting of the community and you know that was never really going to be an issue. Coming out to my Dad again, it was a little bit more stressful you know so my Dad, he's smaller in stature he's only about five foot eight. Um he's about this big and you know but he is an Irish catholic man from Brooklyn New York.

Radzi: Ah okay.

Rob: Uh you know, like in my family we grew up owning bars in Brooklyn like you know, just kind of like very hardy um thick-skinned tough, tough family and um so I was definitely a little bit nervous coming out to him and you know I remember it like it was yesterday. We were sitting in the cab of his truck and we're going to get lunch somewhere and I was like you know I needed to tell you something and I was like you know, I’ve been having these feelings and um you know I’ve, I’ve realised that I’m gay and again there was a pause he looks over at me and the first thing he says is can I still say gay jokes? You know here I am with like tears coming down my face you know, coming out with my Dad I was like that's what you're concerned about, you know and he's, he's been great ever since.

Radzi: That's quite, that that's absolutely quality do you have any advice for anyone who is coming out because this lock down such a weird time for so many things and I think you know we're seeing divorces through the roof, also seeing weddings through the roof but if you are let's say holding something back and you're not being who you feel that you really are, a lot of people will be troubled right now. Would you have any advice for the best way to do it?

Rob: You know I think the biggest thing is is making sure you're ready okay. Um I, I feel like there's this overwhelming pressure because of social media and you know people coming out at earlier ages and you know all overwhelmingly I feel that the trend is moving in a positive direction with people coming out. Um I think we're seeing less negativity, less hate, less you know, less things coming in that in that direction, um but ultimately people have to realise like you're coming out for you and it's not for anybody else and I was at a point in my life where I was in a relationship with somebody. I was over the moon happy and I wanted to be able to share that with people and I was also at a point in my life where I was confident enough to say if you don't like this you can go f off, I don't need you anymore. Yeah and that is a really powerful place to be in life where you can be so happy and so confident in yourself where cutting ties with negative, negative people isn't gonna affect you anymore and you know I was, I was willing to accept any losses in my life for me to finally experience happiness because I think when you're coming out there is a level of selfishness that you have to accept which is sometimes really hard for people. Um you know I feel like a lot of people in the LGBTQ plus community when they're coming out they're like, oh I’m afraid how so-and-so is going to react. I’m afraid how it's going to affect these people and you need to take all of that and throw it out the window right because ultimately at the end of the day you're doing this for yourself and once you're able to proclaim your sexuality and finally live as your true self, the door's open right like you're able to experience happiness, you're able to experience true love. Um all these things that you've been pushing down for so, so long um so I think the biggest thing is you know for anybody that is listening that is wanting to come out, it's just having that little bit of selfishness and confidence to know that your life is going to be better after you come out um because of the things you're able to experience and that that's a hard place to be for some people.

Radzi: Thank you for that dude. Do you have a type by the way? Do you have um a kind of guy that you go for?

Rob: Yeah pretty athletic boys like Joey.

Radzi: Okay so not not too big?

Rob: No no.

Radzi: So what, what about the Strong Man world? Are there actually any hot guys? Because when I see there there's an interesting bunch but I’m not sure how hot any of them are.

Rob: Uh yeah I mean I if any of the guys listen they might get flat because what I find you know especially being a gay guy with predominantly mostly straight male friends is they get very, very offended when I tell them that I don't think they're attractive.

Radzi: I love that what you mean I’m not attractive.

Rob: Yeah, yeah like sorry no dude you're just not my type. Well I, I think there are plenty of good looking guys, um but none that I would shack up with at the end of the night.

Radz: Because we know that the ladies love Luke Stoltman.

Rob: No yeah he's a pretty boy, he you know, he's he looks good but you know it's just not my cup of tea.

Radzi: No, you can what about someone like um I’m sure I think who could be quite, Terry hollands?

Rob:Terry again, he's you know but again like you know, he's, he's like got that like that hot dad look.

Radzi: Okay

Rob: You know, because he, he I don't want to say he's old but he's he's experienced an age, you should yeah um, yeah you know so like I said I typically tend to go for like the more slender athletic, you know build what's that.

Radzi: What's the term? So when I lived with my gay friend he had he had words he used like so otters, bears. What's, what's your group that you go for?

Rob: So, so you know well I’m, I’m obviously a bear.

Radzi: Right.

Rob: Yeah um there's no surprise with that. Uh you know so I guess my type would be you know it's, it's hard you know like, Joey likes to say he's a cub right now. Okay but he it's we on size you know, you are training, well that's the thing you know when we first met he was a twink right okay you know. I mean Joey weighed I think he weighed about 72 kilos when we first met. You know he was a, he was a small guy but like going back like he was he played soccer, he ran track, um you know so he was always, he was always doing those more aerobic sports. Um so yeah you know I would say my type is somewhere like so there's a term called a gym bunny.

Radzi: Okay I haven't heard that okay, gym.

Rob: Yeah so I think like gym bunny, like cub is kind of like where I’m going.

Radzi: So in the Strong Man world, I’m trying to think if there's anyone who I’m trying to think of the smallest. Well I guess kind of in a way you're one of the smallest guys in the Strong Man community.

Rob: So okay I’m not even my type.

Radzi:That's kind of a good thing. It'd be worrying if in the mirror you go, you know what I kind of like him you know of all time even old School lifters, are there any hot guys? There because if I were to say about soccer players I feel as though you could probably list a few whereas Strong Man is it's a niche community.

Rob: Yeah you know like I said I feel like it's just, like I said like there's guys that are attractive but that's kind of where it goes at the end of you know it's like, oh yeah like you're a good-looking dude.

Radzi: That's about it that's as far as it goes. We've got to talk to you about your Strong Man and so first of all you got injured going for the your own breaking of your own American record. Your tricep, how is that now?

Rob: It's coming along well you know. I got a cool scar now, yeah and um you know it's, it's funny you know it's, it's a bad injury. Um I don't think I quite realised how serious it was when it happened you know because I think a tricep is a weird one, it doesn't happen often and I think you know we see guys tear their biceps a lot um or they'll have muscle tears and they're back three months-ish they're back full doing their normal gig, um and that's just not the case with this injury so you know. So I ruptured it. I was going for a log lift of 220 kilos and you know the frustrating thing is the two weeks prior I hit 219 pretty easily and there was nothing leading up to that event where I thought I was gonna get injured. Everything felt great that day I had no aches, no pains, nothing um, it was just bad positioning, bad timing and my tricep decided to go and you know I realised it was bad when I came out of surgery because I was talking to the surgeon who who's a good friend of mine and he said you know I opened up your arm and actually had to take a step back and rethink how I was going to fix it because it was so much worse than we thought it was on the scans.

Radzi: Wow.

Rob: Um so the way yeah so, so the way he described it was, it was like a firecracker went off in my tricep. So the tendon you know typically when a tendon tears it just rips across and it'll come off the bone. Mine exploded so the tendon was frayed, there were fibres all over the place. Um so he literally had to rethink his surgical plan after he, after I was already under after my arm was already opened up uh to try to figure out what the heck he was going to do to get me back to the level I needed to be. Um so what ended up happening was it took 12 sutures to put the tendon back together and then.

Radzi: Is a sutures how you're hooking the actual tendon to the bone?

Rob: Uh no so the, so uh the way the so that's an anchor um and we'll get to that. So the suture is essentially just it took um, so think of like a zip tie, where he had to essentially bring all the pieces back together and then tie it all together into one complement tendon to then get a good attachment point into the bone.

Radzi: Gotcha.

Rob: Typically that doesn't have to happen in these surgeries, he said maybe they do one or two if, there's some extra fraying or if there's micro tears somewhere but so it took 12 to put my tendon back together, um and then when they anchor it into the elbow typically they just do one ancho. They stick it in, you're good to go with me it took four, so they had to drill four holes into my elbow to get a solid attachment point for the tendon to reattach and get everything back in working order.

Radzi: Is that ultimately partly because you're a freak? As in if they if that happens to my tricep I think they need one anchor and maybe one suture whereas what you're doing to yourself on a daily basis means your body just isn't gonna be normal.

Rob: Yeah and I that's pretty much what he chopped it up as and it was um you know he it was unexpected for the both of us um you know. I, I knew what had happened right away. Um you know I have a degree in sports medicine, um so I knew that that's what happened and I was totally bummed when I, when I woke up from surgery and realised how bad it actually was and I think it's definitely you know in this sport of Strong Man, injuries like this it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when um and you know unfortunately this was my time and the timing could not have been worse, um because I was in some probably the best shape of my life going into that event and going into the rest of the 2020 competitive year.

Radzi: What do you take from that so obviously the event wasn't World’s Strongest Man it was right before World's Strongest Man which that means you can't compete in the thing that you've been aiming for, for the last year does that mean that moving forward if feats of strength come back and you get another opportunity you say I’ve got to be focusing on, on the big one or is it like you say just part and parcel of rolling the dice?

Rob: I think it's um I think it did put things into perspective a little bit for me. Um I think you know I was talking to my coach, Derek Poundstone and we yeah he's, he's amazing and I think the feats of strength series was unbelievable and I, I have so much gratitude to the guys the World's Ultimate Strong Man for putting that on and working so hard for us athletes to be able to compete and do something that's meaningful, um but I think it also put into perspective like I’ve achieved the limit of the American log press record, I know I’m strong enough to do it, um but there are other goals that I need to work on right now, um and there's a lot of things that I still haven't achieved in the sport that I want to and I need to frankly, um that is more than just a record, you know so, so the way I’ve, I’ve set up my entire career is by setting these small attainable goals that I knew I could achieve um and I, I’m still missing a few steps for me to move on and so I need to hit those boxes before I think about going back for another record.

Radzi: Because what I find quite amazing about you is actually on your on your website so you say train to be the person they said I would never become and as soon as I heard that I thought that okay that makes total sense because genetically you think of Thor, Shaw, Tom Stoltman, all over six foot seven, all around 180 190 200 kilos, 440 pounds, you think you're sort of 5.10 you mentioned competing under 105. So as in your natural body size is to walk around under 105 and here you are competing with the World's Strongest Man. This shouldn't be happening.

Rob: You know it's funny you're saying that quote, so this picture right behind me um is actually that's, that exact quote, um and that's at the foot of my bed so every morning I wake up that's what I see. Love it um and so I mean if you really want to get into the Strong Man history so I actually started competing you 90, um when I first started.

Radzi: That is just ridiculous, and how much are you now?

Rob: Uh god so I’m about 128.

Radzi: So you that is so much extra body weight, best part of 40 kilos.

Rob: Yeah so, so when I started this sport back in 2009, I was 17 years old um and yeah so I, I started out competing 90 from 2009 to 2011 when I was just getting my feet wet and I talked about setting these goals that I knew I could achieve and you know when I started this sport my goal was never to get to this level, to be doing a podcast with guys like you, and competing in front of fans of you know, tens of thousands of people, um because to be frank I sucked when I started. Um I really wasn't good and but I just had this love for the sport because it was so much fun and it was so different from anything that I’ve ever done. So I, I set these goals to where I would just be increasing little by little, every single time you know so like my first goal in the sport of Strong Man was to not take last place in a contest because that happened a lot. Um I finished last in the first eight competitions I ever did and then you know once I didn't take last it was like okay let's not zero an event at a show and then after I did that it was like okay we're putting things together I’m starting to become more of an athlete, let's get on the podium and things just kind of snowballed in that direction, um to where you know in 2011, I jumped up to the 105 class or 2012, um and then ended up winning the North American Amateur National Championships in the 105 division in 2013 to become a pro, uh and I actually competed as a 105 pro until 2016. So for uh you know for four years um I took second place with America’s Strongest Man in that weight category. I still hold the world uh the world record for the log lift um, at 105 I pressed 186.

Radzi: Okay, that’s nuts.

Rob: Um at 105 body weight. Yeah and um so I still have that world record and then I went to Belfast in 2016 to compete at 105 World's Strongest Man, and it was the hardest and most painful weight cut of my life and that's when I looked at Joey and I was like yeah this is it for me, I’m gonna go up to the heavyweight division after this um and that year I also went and won the log press world championships hosted by Zydrunas Savickas, Lithuania. Um I competed in the heavyweight division weighing only 112 kilos and I won.

Radzi: No that yeah so, so ridiculous.

Rob: I beat, I beat some big names, you know I beat Displacatus, I beat Vittota Slawless, I beat Dimitar Savatinov, at 112 kilo bodyweight uh I lifted 202.5 for, for the win um you know in that it was that moment that I realised okay I can be competitive as a heavyweight now. Um you know but from the start of my career to where to that point it was eight years.

Radzi: It is incredible and it's kind of what Adam, Adam Bishop and Graham Hicks did they started under one. I went to Adam Bishop's first ever Strong Man show. It was in a farm and he was competing against bouncers and it was one I had apple crumble as his intra workout whatever the hell you want to call it. I mean it was nuts and that guy where he is now it is crazy, much like yourself but you mentioned the log press world record at under 105, you're, I imagine you have your site set on something ridiculous in the open category, what is it that works so well for you when it comes to the jerk? Because no one does it bar you everyone presses, Rob Kearney and he jerks. How tough is that?

Rob: You know, so for me it started because my overhead was abysmal um when I got into this sport. I was horrible at it and it was embarrassing and I didn't want to go to shows and zero anymore. So you know at that point at that point in my career I was training with some studs you know so I would I was training with Derek, um back in 2009, 2010 when he was at the top of his career.

Fadzi: Right.

Rob: He was just coming off the second place that World's Strongest Man, multiple times America’s Strongest Man Arnold champion, like he was the cream of the crop, and um you know I, I was going and getting my ass kicked every single weekend with those guys, and I was tired of it so at this time I was also pretty regularly training at a Crossfit gym, um when I was not with the guys doing events because at that time I mean I was driving about almost two hours each way to train Strong Man with Derrick and the crew down there um while I was you know in uni. So um during the week I would train mainly at the Crossfit gym and and the coaches were like listen like you know let's get you doing some Olympic lifts, let's get you doing some like split jerks and stuff like that to help in Strong Man and you know started on a barbell, got pretty comfortable with it and you know I previously, I was hitting maybe about 75- 80 kilos overhead for my working sets and then getting into the split jerk it was like, okay now I’m working at 100-105-11,0 it was starting to get better I was getting more comfortable with the lift and then I was like well you know if it's working this well with a barbell let's try it with a log and, um I just started playing around with it and trying to get comfortable and it is so weird and so intimidating when you're starting off because you know when you're jerking a barbell there's nothing in front of your face so you can see where you're going, um when you have a log on your chest you're looking up at the sky, so it's hard to find how you're going to move with this big awkward implement on your chest and it just it took a lot of time and you know I think that just it comes down to like I’ve been in the sport for a long time. I haven't been that well known for that long but again I’ve been doing this sport for 11 years now um and it took years and years and years of me practising and getting better at it to get to the point that I’m at now, um and yeah it really just stems from not being good enough and changing the event to work for me and I think that's one of the reasons why I’ve been able to be so successful at this level, while being so small you know because I’ve had to study the sport and I you know I think I became a student of the sport really quickly because I saw what the top guys were doing, I realised I couldn't do it that way but let me pick apart their technique a little bit let me steal a little bit from this side still a little bit from this side, put it together into a technique and a formula that works for me um and that's ended up you know, that's how I ended up here.

Radzi: How do you structure your training programme in terms of what does your week look like now?

Rob: Um so yeah so you know I, I so I’ve been working with Derek for two and a half years now at this point and um you know it's by far the best thing that's ever happened in my career is being able to have him as my coach and my friend and my mentor um so the training that we're going through right now is, um and the way it's pretty much banished, it's four days a week it's a pretty basic split um and no surprise there's a lot of pressing. So you know day one is going to be an overhead and shoulders day, day two I, I squat and deadlift on the same day, day three is what I call like my bro day, um so it's like bench and arms and so it's like every lifter's favourite day my least favourite day, um and then the weekends is, is event training. Um you know and as we get closer to contests we, we incorporate some events during the week, so it's you know my day one for my overhead day, if it's a dumbbell, an axle or a log that'll be my overhead movement on day one and then accessories to follow day two you know deadlift and squat, I’m always gonna squat no matter what but if it's a car deadlift or a side handle deadlift, we'll switch that into the mix um so, so it's a little bit fluid but that's pretty much the structure. Um is you know overhead squat, deadlift, bench and then events and you periodise what you're doing or do you keep the actual volume quite similar throughout your training programme. It's pretty much high all the time to be honest um you know we, we adjust intensities based on the day um so but to be honest like you know I don't get structured deloads. Um you know I think a lot of guys do but I mean gosh leading up to World's Strongest Man, I think or no actually you know what uh for the Arnold back in March of 2020, um the only deal I saw, I got a deal the week before that contest but the deload I got before that was the week after World's Strongest Man which was June of 2019.

Radzi: Wow.

Rob: Yeah um, yeah you know and it's um I think it's a little bit of the madness that Derek puts down on paper, um but you know essentially the way he works in the way I really like it and it's actually oddly enough his, his methodology is very similar to the coach I had when I turned pro was Mike Jenkins. Um so yes well I worked with mike for almost a full year um I turned pro in October of 2013 and then unfortunately he passed away just a few weeks later, um but you know Mike and Derek both have the same mentality, is you know you need to earn your deload, um you need to work hard enough for your body says yeah I can't do this anymore and you know we got to that point when we were leading up to the Arnold where like, I was beat to hell and I was struggling those last few weeks of training and um you know Derek’s response was, yeah, I was kind of waiting for you to get to this point, because now you know your body needs a brain. But up to that point like I was I was doing everything he threw at me and I was just kind of taking it in stride and putting my head down and you know I think that's one thing that makes me a good athlete is I don't question things, um and that's why I need a good coach because if if the coach is going to put it down on paper, I’m going to do it and I just kind of I follow it blindly and I just trust the process and I think when you do that it opens up the doors to allow you to do things you didn't think were possible you know, before working with Derek I was one of those guys that I would take a deload probably every five to six weeks, pretty regularly um and then Daryl completely flipped that up on it on its end and now I get one I maybe get two to three a year

Radzi: Which if you told me that ahead of this conversation I said no I don't believe you. I’m gonna ask that question. [Laughter] but that whole thing you're saying about just committing to a process that's really interesting because the thing about say for example your jerk is that it's on an Olympic bar, it's the same Olympic bar no matter what the competition. Logs change in every aspect namely your hand position so if you've been drilling something and now you're three inches wider or three inches narrower on a jerk that's going to cause some serious technical issues in a movement that's technical on an Olympic bar, so the fact that you just can go switch off, just do it, that's probably testimony to your success.

Rob: Yeah I mean I, I and but I also play around with that in my training where I will never train on the same log every single week. Um so you know I’m fortunate enough to be at a gym where we have a few different options for, for logs that are close enough to what we're going to be using in a competition and I make sure that I change it up every single week so even if it's just a simple accessory movement where I’m just doing a log strict press that week if it's not too heavy, I’m going to switch it up. I’m not going to use the one that feels the best I’m not going to use the one that I’m most comfortable on. I’m going to use every single you know piece of equipment that I have because again like you, you know you've been around the sport we're never using the same kit at a contest it's different every single show and you know, I think that was the biggest thing when I went to log press World Championships in 2016 where I won, we showed up and it was the biggest effing log I’ve ever seen in my life, um you know, like we're we typically use 12-inch diameter logs pretty standard. Um I show up to Lithuania and Stavicus being the sick b******, he is we're using a 13 and a half inch diameter log was it I mean this thing is just massive. yeah so it's metal it was um, it's actually an iconic log, it's it was used in the IFSA circuit back in the mid 2000s, um.

Radzi: Rolls up nicely.

Rob: Yeah, yeah but you know for an athlete like me, who's using a split jerk, my hand position just went from here to, here so the log is further out in front of me which on the dip portion of the press is going to pull me more forward, so now I have to think about that we're also on a springy stage with astroturf, so I need to figure out how my feet are gonna move on this stage which actually in that competition my second attempt my foot got stuck and I missed the lift so it was it was 190 kilos so I cleaned it, I missed the jerk and had 60 seconds so I had to re-pick it and repress it and I got the lift in that time, but um you know I think it's just being able to switch things up in training to make it as unpredictable as possible is going to set you up for success at a show because nothing is standard in this sport.

Radzi: But it's interesting your ability to adapt because I remember at North America’s, I’m gonna go 2019, with covid I’ve kind of lost track of time, but you went for a record on the axle which is again, it's going to go overhead but it's a different hand position, different implement again you were unsuccessful that day and you could see how gutted you were because you knew it was in you.

Rob: Yeah and but to be honest that was a mistake on my part um I, I made an error because it was hot that day and I made the mistake of not doing what I did in training which was taking my shirt off after each attempt to dry my chest and dry the shirt that I was wearing. Um so you know it's amazing that even after 11 years of doing the sport you know even the best of us still make rookie mistakes, um you know and I, 100 percent confident I could have been close to that world record that day. Um I had hit 220 in training before on the axle um and you know for me it was a matter of getting it to my shoulders because I knew on an axle I could, I could jerk plenty of weight on an axle because it was so much easier than a log, um but it was getting that clean and unfortunately when I went for that 200 kilos I knew it right away too once it got onto my stomach, um I was in my head, I was like I messed this up you know I didn't do what I had done every single training session leading up to this show. I threw it out the window on that event and you know unfortunately that just kind of set the tone for the entire competition for me and you know that that Giants Live Show was probably one of my worst showings, um you know you know I still I took fourth place which you know is not terrible um, but it you know for that competition I should have been, I should have won that show um you know, and you know, just you know having one bad event to start off where you think you're going to do really well um you know it just I got in my head for the rest of the show and unfortunately had a bad performance that day which happens.

Radzi: America’s kind of the depth of talent they've now got is massive whether it's Evan Singleton, Kevin Faires, Trey Mitchell, um I’m trying to girls perform well that day, obviously yourself, Brian wasn't competing, but it's it really is getting better and better as the years go on there are people I’ve missed out as well.

Rob: Yeah you know I mean I think the guys like Bobby Thompson who just kind of burst with the scene in the last year and a half um you know, I’ll never forget you know that was God that was one of my worst yolk performances as well um, at that that contest and I’ll never forget he beat me in that event and he said this is one of the highlights of my career.

Radzi: That's cool.

Rob: Um you know which is yeah being on my end it's like yeah [ __ ] I just lost but that's cool to hear as well. Um you know so it was the talent pool in this in this in this sport is just getting so amazing and also so frustrating at the same time, um you  know because yeah we have to fight you know, we have to fight to keep our name relevant and fight to be you know keep coming back to these shows um and it's just getting harder and harder every year to get to the top, you know to get to World's Strongest Man, to get to the Arnold , it's getting tougher and tougher.

Radzi: Just finally, I know you've got to go off to work so appreciate your time massively, is where do you see the next five years for you in this sport because you're somebody that really studies it, you're not somebody who just goes for it and happy go lucky see what happens so I imagine you've got a linear kind of objective and goal in mind?

Rob: Yeah, you know um you know it's funny you know, Joey and I we talk about this all the time too you know him and I we just turned 29. Um and I told him like 35 is when I turn 35, that's going to be kind of my gauge of where I’m at in my career, um if I am still progressing if I’m still doing really well I’m gonna keep going and see where I can get to but if I've kind of stalled out and you know I’m not really performing like I should and like I have been in the past, um you know I’m probably gonna bow out gracefully and be unbelievably grateful for the career that I had um you know like I said before I shouldn't be doing this stuff you know, I shouldn't be at this level, um and it's honestly just a dream come true to be able to share my story compete and compete with these amazing guys and you know be in front of these crowds and um you know but I think I’m always going to be involved with the sport you know I think my biggest goal is to kind of actually along the lines of what you're doing is getting into sports commentary and announcing um that's where I see myself going in the sport and still being able to give back, um because this sport has been my life for 11 years and I don't you know I don't see myself ever being away from it. Um but you know I still have a lot of goals that I want to achieve you know, I mean I talked about setting those goals and you know having those those steps um you know I still haven't made the finals that World's Strongest Man, so that is you know number one, Um I want to be top five at the Arnold, Strong Man classic so that's right there as well. Um but to be totally honest like I don't think winning those is out of my reach as well um you know I think I think getting one of those trophies is up there for me you know and I told this to Joey he doesn't believe me, but I have said like if I win World's Strongest Man, I’m probably going to pull an Eddie Hall and retire on the spot because in my mind there's no going up from there. Um you know if don't know if an athlete like myself could repeat that. Um it'd be unbelievably difficult so for me for me to go out on top for the World's Strongest Man win. I would be happy to hang up my shoes right then and there um and go on my merry way as the World's Strongest Man Champion. Um you know so that's ultimately that is the goal.

Radzi: Novikov has kind of communicated I think to so many people that it is not the land of the giants alone, they're actually so for the likes of yourself, Kevin Faires, Gaham Hicks, people over and I don't even, I don't if I can call you a smaller athlete but next to those guys you actually are smaller athletes but that you can not only compete not only final but actually be on top of the podium that guy I think has been an inspiration to a new potential breed of strong men.

Rob: I mean to be honestly it was inspiring to me you know not being our World's Strongest Man this year and then seeing him hold that trophy it was like damn you know, he did it, he did it for us. Um you know which was so exciting you know and it kind of renewed a sense of excitement for me as well, um because you know to be honest you know I definitely have gotten in my head over the past couple years where you know as an athlete that's my size you think like oh you have to be big, you have to be you know, this tall you have to weigh this much in order to be really successful in this sport and you know I think Novikov just flipped that up on it on its end and said no you know you don't you know and I think where you see the sport is going obviously you have to be strong as hell, but we're also seeing this new level of athleticism from these athletes, where that does tailor itself to the smaller guys you know being able to move a little bit faster, recover quicker in between events, it helps guys of a smaller stature, um so you know I just have to you know keep the pedal to the metal, keep working just as hard and try to get on that podium.

Radzi: Rob it's been a pleasure talking to you mate. I hope you rehab really well. Regards to Joey and we can't wait to see
you back at World's Strongest Man or Giants live very soon.

Rob: Thank you so much man, I appreciate it.

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Episode Five: Rob Kearney video

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