A Chard man with cerebral palsy has recently returned from Iceland after testing his mettle in the World’s Strongest Disabled Man competition.
Gary Clarke, 35, a support worker for people with learning disabilities, managed four personal bests in Reykjavik and landed fourth place in the world in his category.
He has been powerlifting for more than a decade but only took part in his first strongman competition in 2011. He was invited back to take part this year by organiser Magnus Ver Magnusson, four-time winner of the World’s Strongest Man contest.
The programme of six events tested strength, grip, balance and stamina and included challenges such as a log lift – where Gary managed 10 reps of a 70kg log, and the truck pull, where he dragged a three-tonne truck for 11 metres uphill.
Mr Clarke trains at the Griffin Strongman Camp at North Perrott under the guidance of Phil Diamond and competes in the seated category.
He said: “What was important to me was beating my records from last year. All you can do is the best for yourself and that’s what I did.
“I’m really proud to have achieved four personal bests out of six which was an awesome improvement, and even in the events where things didn’t go quite my way I came away knowing what I need to work on.
“Overall I’m feeling very positive and proud of my performance, it was a fantastic experience.
“Now I’m back in training, working hard and keen to improve to try and be stronger again for next year.”
Mr Clarke, who uses crutches and experiences difficulties with his balance due to his condition, stresses his disability is just a small part of his life.
He said: “Disability is just a state of mind, I choose not to let it hold me back, and events like this prove you can achieve the things you want to, regardless of any disability.”
Mr Clarke was sponsored by Impey Showers, a bathroom manufacturer which specialises in disabled wet rooms
Alex Longden, marketing manager at Impey Showers said: “We’re delighted to have been able to support Gary as he competed in the World’s Strongest Disabled Man competition, and are so impressed with all that he achieved.”