That culture is how the industry retains its existing audience and brings newcomers in. Manning Jeffrey, general manager of the Adonis Athletics gym franchise in Sydney, says the local community will “roll the red carpet out for anybody who’s willing to give it a go.”
Mason Dannatt, whose company, Australia’s Strongest, holds strongman competitions in Australia, described the tournaments as laid-back affairs.
“They’re fun competitions,” he said. “There’s people with a beer in hand, it’s cool to watch, no one takes themselves too seriously. All that makes for a really inclusive community.”
Anecdotally, the sport seems to be growing in Australia. In 2022, Mr. Dannatt’s company ran 22 strongman competitions; in 2023, it is running 24, including a new series of competitions for middleweight athletes, junior strongmen and women, and athletes of all abilities. He has also signed a deal with the streaming company Kayo Sports, where subscribers can watch the 2022 Australia’s Strongest Man and Woman competitions.
Ms. Smith said that “one novice competition recently had 40 competitors; huge for our sport.” She’ll be going to Florida with 13 other Australian competitors, up from the 11 who went in 2019.
Mr. Jeffrey, whose gym has franchises in Sydney’s Paddington, Castle Hill and Campbelltown suburbs, is trying to bring in more novices. Mr. Dannatt said that recent popular competitions were attracting more funding and sponsors, but more could still be done. He’s now busy organizing the Australia’s Strongest International competition, running in January in Castlemaine, Victoria.
For Ms. Smith, a packed competition schedule means she won’t get a break for some time. Before those competitions, though, there is one part of her normal life she has to attend to.