Williams Lake strongman Tyson Delay will be competing at provincials in the Comox Valley on Sept. 2, 2023.
At recent competitions in Kelowna and Kamloops, Delay’s performances qualified him for provincials.
Under blistering hot conditions, Delay competed in five events in the Kelowna Strongman Competition.
He won the overhead medley, where contenders lift three different awkward heavy objects.
“I was the only one to lift all three.”
He won the yoke tower, where he ran a heavy yoke across a 50-foot course, stopped and threw two sandbags highland games style over the tower on the yoke, which was 15-feet tall.
“I won this as I was the fastest yoke runner and the only athlete to get the two bags over the bar.”
His third event, which he won and was his favourite, was the deadlift.
It involved a 405-pound axle bar deadlift for 12 reps.
Third place was his for the fourth event, which was carrying a giant wooden frame that had handles so he could pick it up and run with it.
“Sadly the moment I picked it up, the front end dug into the ground so I lost a couple seconds of time which threw me back to third on this event. Mistakes happen, so this was OK.”
Last man standing sandbag over bar was his fifth and final event.
Delay said competitors go head-to-head lifting a 250-pound sandbag over a chest height bar until they cannot any further.
Once one athlete is done, another steps in to take his place until the last man stands.
He decided to go first even though he had the points advantage and was allowed to go last, but he wanted to personally go against every athlete in his class and “take them out myself.”
“I ripped the sandbag seven times quite easily and managed to tire all three of them out.”
Describing the Kelowna competition as really well run, he thanked the organizers. Aside from the wins Delay was happy because some of his personal training athletes competed as well.
He had a good time both coaching them and competing himself.
“I wanted to give a shout out to my training partner Kyle Cook for being such a consistent help in the gym.”
Delay’s life before strongman
Delay has been in the sport since 2017.
Growing up in Bella Coola, where his parents moved to the valley from the Shuswap to raise their six children, Delay said he grew up tossing hay bales, working hard in the forest and moving big pieces of wood.
“I’ve always had a healthy respect for strength.”
His parents Peter and Tania Delay, by moving to the valley, wanted to find paradise, he said.
“I know it sounds cheesy, but they though they needed to find a luscious paradise, good soil and a safe place to raise our family. My parents were literally walking on the property they bought, praying and saying they hoped ‘this was it.’”
His dad randomly dug up some dirt in the yard and Delay remembers it being the most nutritious soil his parents had ever seen.
Delay recalled being very sickly and skinny as a child and not being able to put on weight due to many food allergies they did not know about.
While he was “extremely” small, his brothers, sisters and stepsisters grew.
“My older brother is six foot four, my second oldest brother six foot five, even my sister when she was 14 and I was 17 weighed more than I did and she was the same height as me.”
He did not know about pursuing strength until he had moved to Williams Lake when he was 21 and started going to a gym.
Recalling that he did not have a clue about how to use the gym, he said by chance he was plumbing a house for Blair Fisher, who has been doing powerlifting for many years in Williams Lake.
“He noticed I had more muscles than your average skinny kid and mentioned that I should try out powerlifting.”
Within two weeks he signed up for his first powerlifting show with Fisher’s help, who also fostered him through the first few years of his journey into powerlifting.
“He was a major, major factor for me learning about it.”
Slow to achieve any placings at competitions, Delay said he was a very poor powerlifter at first.
“I am not a very strong person naturally and powerlifting is all about static strength. There is no moving in it all tall.”
What he loves about strongman
By chance, he discovered strongman was a sport that he did not know existed.
It was exactly what he was looking for.
“It has heavy lifting which I am bad at and then it’s got these speed and conditioning elements such as picking up a sandbag and running them across the course.”
He transitioned from powerlifting to strongman because it is so varied, with more than 100 different events and every show is a mix of five or six of them.
Strongman forces him to be a well-rounded and balanced athlete, which is something he also loves.
“You have to be fast and strong. You have to have good grip and you have to have good speed. There are so many different parts of it that are important.”
Whether he is picking up rocks, sandbags, cars, trucks or something else he finds the challenge both cool and different, he added.
“I fully, fully fell in love with it and honestly was pretty terrible for many, many years. I got last place in the province three years in a row and the first year I went to nationals I got last place in the country,” he said, chuckling.
Undaunted, he has persevered, and eventually has gotten better which he is grateful for.
For the past five years Delay has trained in his garage where he has a shop.
A contractor, he does demolitions, paint lines in parking lots, trucking part-time and is a personal trainer, which he does on the weekends.
There will be some upcoming competitions, but he will not competing because he said they are extremely hard on the body so he tries to avoid doing them back-to-back.
“I am very interested in longevity and long-term health. I try to space out my shows.”
He will be hosting two shows in Williams Lake – the first one on Saturday, July 29 and the second one on Saturday, Aug. 12.