As much as we get sucked in by the epic power struggles, magic, and violence of Game of Thrones, we're still aware that it's all make-believe. Lena Headey isn't really a callous queen. Carice van Houten isn't really a shadow-birthing sorceress. Jack Gleeson isn't really a sadistic, ludicriously cruel brat king. At least one member of the show's massive cast, however, does carry over a particular element of his character into his real life: Hafþór Björnsson, who plays Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, really is a fantastically strong giant of a man who could probably crush all of our skulls like grapes.
See, when he's not slaughtering dudes at the behest of Cersei Lannister or swinging a 6-foot broadsword around with one hand like it's a pinwheel, Björnsson is a competitive strongman, and he's really, really good at it. Last summer he was named Europe's Strongest Man, and he finished second in the 2014 World's Strongest Man competition. Earning honors like that means pulling off a number of feats of strength, but a few days ago, at Iceland's annual World's Strongest Viking competition, Björnsson pulled off something no man's been able to do in more than a thousand years.
According to Ilkka Kinnunen, a promoter for the Strongman Champion League, Icelandic sagas describe the legendary strongman Ormur Stórólfsson putting a massive log that weighed more than 1,200 pounds on his back and attempting to carry it. He made it three steps.
“The legend of the Icelander Ormur Stórólfsson goes that he walked three steps with a monster wooden log which weighed over 650 kg and was 10 m long," Kinnunen said. "It took 50 mere mortals to help him place it on his back. After he took his third step, his back broke under the enormous pressure and he was never the same after that.”
At the World's Strongest Viking competition, Björnsson put just such a log on his own back and managed to walk five steps while keeping his back intact. So I guess you can add "Real-Life Viking Legend" to his list of occupations. Oh, and needless to say, he won the competition, too.
Björnsson wrote on his Instagram page after the competition:
"Well today my friends I made history!! As well as winning the title of The World's Strongest Viking for the second time in a row I carried this MONSTER LOG 5 steps! My back held up fine!! As I'm on my way to my ultimate goal to win The World's Strongest Man! NOTHING CAN STOP ME!! NOTHING CAN BREAK ME!!"
The legend of the Icelander Orm Storulfsson says that he walked three steps with this MONSTER WOODEN LOG which weighs over 600kg's/1320lbs! It took 50 mere mortals to help him placing it on his back! After he took his third step his back broke under the enormous pressure and he was never the same after that! Well today my friends I made history!! As well as winning the title of The World's Strongest Viking for the second time in a row I carried this MONSTER LOG 5 steps! My back held up fine!! As I'm on my way to my ultimate goal to win The World's Strongest Man! NOTHING CAN STOP ME!! NOTHING CAN BREAK ME!!
A photo posted by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (@thorbjornsson) on Jan 31, 2015 at 10:38am PST
Björnsson will compete in the 2015 World's Strongest Man Competition later this year, and will appear in the fifth season of Game of Thrones when it returns in April.
(Via The AV Club)