GARY Clarke is someone who doesn’t let his disability hold him back.
The inspirational 37-year-old from Chard is not long back from competing at this year’s The World’s Strongest Disabled Man competition in Reykjavik.
Gary has cerebral palsy but is determined not to let it stop him fulfilling his dreams of setting up a disabled strongman competition in the UK.
He said: “I don’t class myself as a sufferer – my disability is just a small part of my life.
“Disability is just a state of mind – I choose not to let it hold me back and events like the Strongest Disabled Man prove you can achieve the things you want to, regardless of any disability.”
Gary has competed in the international strength event four times, attempting the Log Lift, Truck Pull and the Hercules Hold, where participants hold two cables with 100kg weights on each end for as long as possible, testing strength and grip.
But disaster struck two days before Gary was to compete in this year’s event when he developed a foot infection.
“I was a little gutted and for a fraction of a second I thought about not competing but I knew that if I didn’t I would regret it,” he said.
“I hadn’t trained hard all year round, I couldn’t not go.”
Gary trains four times a week at Ilminster Fitness and Pro-Strength and Fitness in Swindon under Laurence Shahlaei, who has won Britain’s Strongest Man twice.
Gary is already in training for next year’s event.
He added: “I’ll keep training and competing until the day I die – if I die in the gym, it would be a happy death for me.
“I want to start disabled strongman competitions in the UK and make them as popular here as they are in other countries.
“I want to give disabled people the chance to show the public what they’re made of.
“Thanks to Impey Showers in Ilton for their ongoing sponsorship and to my coach and friend Laurence for his expert advice and guidance throughout the year. He is injured at the moment, so I wish him a quick recovery.
“Despite the minor setback Iceland was a fantastic experience. I have a saying when it comes training – no limits and no excuses.”
- Do you have an inspirational story to share? Contact chief reporter Daniel Milligan on 01823-365104 or email newsdesk@chardandilminsternews.