Interview with Hjalti Árnason
October 28, 1997 (interview performed via e-mail)
Bill: I'd like to start of by thanking you for agreeing to do this interview.
I really appreciate it. So, how and when did you get started in the strength scene?
Hjalti: I started doing Karate when I saw Bruce Lee in "Enter The Dragon". Then soccer, handball (the olympic one), track and field,
and then powerlifting and strongman.
Bill: What types of strength competitions have you been involved in
(like strongman, powerlifting, etc.)?
Hjalti: I started in Powerlifting and then I did strongman to make a living "semi-pro."
Bill: What have you enjoyed more - powerlifting or strong man competitions, and why?
Hjalti: I love both sports but the strongman sport has to clean up a little with rules and
refereeing. Powerlifting is a great sport - good rules and refereeing - but there is no money or
publicity involved. There is no politic, but it makes a man out of you. I believe myself, if you
want to call yourself a strongman you have to do well as a powerlifter. You have to be able to
compare with other boys who are in the iron sport.
Bill: What kind of training schedule have you used throughout your career?
Hjalti: I trained most of the time five days a week, two to three hours. Mostly
the three powerlifting events. And in the summer - running and grip, stonelift, and what you ever needed for the strongman competition.
Bill: What would you say are your greatest accomplishments in your career?
Hjalti: I was the first European to win the Mark Ten Challenge in Montreal
- The World Strongman Championship. The first Icelander to break the 1000 kg
barrier in Powerlifting. The 1991 World Powerliftng Champion, EPF.
Bill: What do you generally eat in a day?
Hjalti: I used to eat more than 10,000 calories of good food - meat, fish, rice,
bread, milk, and so on. But today I am trying to go from 140 kg to 120 kg, but I seem to like eating too much.
Bill: Are you married? What is your family like?
Hjalti: I was, but I am now living with my girlfrend, Halla Heimisdóttir, and I am
spending a lot of time with my sons, Greipur - 8 years, and Arni - 5 years.
Bill: Could you describe your relationship with Jon Pall Sigmarsson? How did you meet?
Hjalti: We lived in the same hood and were in the same school. Jon Pall, or "Palli" as
we called him, was a great guy with a lot of discipline. He set the path for me and Magnús and all the other guys.
We trained together for many years.
Bill: Do you have an idea why there are so many fantastic strength athletes coming from Iceland?
Hjalti: It must be the viking blood. Only the strongest did survive in the past.
It was a cold and hard country to live in.
Bill: Were you ever able to make a living just through the sport, or did you always need to
have another source of income?
Hjalti: In some period of time I made living from the sport competing and promoting.
Bill: What is your occupation now?
Hjalti: I am a system administrator for Post and Telecom in Iceland.
Bill: What are your plans for the future?
Hjalti: To take good care of my family, and try to live a normal life.
Bill: Thanks a lot for your time, Hjalti.