The sponsorship from Impey – the leading suppliers and manufacturers of wetrooms for both the luxury and healthcare market – helped Gary Clarke achieve his aim of competing in the event, where he picked up four personal bests and landed fourth place in the world in his category.
The 35-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, said: “In the past I’ve had to rely on myself and the generosity of friends and relatives to cover the cost of competing.
“It’s wonderful to have had the backing of Impey and the money they donated was a huge help. I hope I have done them all proud with my performance!”
Gary Clarke, from Chard, Somerset, has been powerlifting for more than a decade but only took part in his first strongman competition last year. He was invited back to take part this year by organiser Magnus Ver Magnusson – four-times 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 an incredible 10 reps of a log which weighed 70kg – and the truck pull – when he dragged a three tonne truck for 11 metres uphill.
Gary, who trains at the Griffin Strongman Camp at North Perrott under the guidance of Phil Diamond and competes in the seated category, said he had been determined to improve on his performance from the year before.
“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,” the support worker for people with learning disabilities said.
“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.”
Gary, who uses crutches and experiences difficulties with his balance due to his condition, stresses his disability is just ‘a small part’ of his life.
And he believes there are plenty of other like-minded people with disabilities living in the UK – inspiring him to look into the possibility of setting up a Britain’s Strongest Disabled Man competition here.
“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,” Gary said.
“I’d love to set up a similar competition here in Britain if possible – a really positive event which encourages people to step outside of their comfort zone. This is something I’d like to look into developing, although I’ll be focusing on my own training first and foremost for now.”
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.”