Fir Vale resident Paul Smith beat off tough competition in July to become England’s Strongest Man 2016. A former student of Firs Hill and Parkwood schools, at 21 Paul is the youngest ever winner of the title and he spoke to the Messenger about his achievement.
When I was 14 my dad got me some weights for my birthday. In year 11 I started going to Flex Fitness at Southey Green – I was getting stronger than a lot of other people there including my mates and older people. I got talking to a man who trained people for Strongman and entered a competition at Stocksbridge. I came last, but enjoyed it and it made me determined to improve. I was usually the youngest at the competitions and often competing against fully grown men. My strongest event is lifting things above my head. You get to lift some cool stuff!
I train every day, sometimes twice a day. I do my strongman event training work at the weekend: car lifts and tyre flips, with gym lifting, cardio and conditioning work during the week. Strongman is quite varied so you have to be fit and fast. I don’t eat anything too fancy or different to anyone else. I’m quite light for a strongman, so before a competition I’m trying to get as heavy as possible, getting as many calories and as much protein as I can. I get a lot of guys in the pub wanting to test themselves and arm-wrestle with me. And I do get people asking me to move stuff – they get carried away and think I’m the Incredible Hulk and can lift a car above my head with one hand! I used to be shy and introverted, but sport changed that. I do break a lot of furniture though – I’ve broken about eight computer chairs!
• Height: 5”10
• Weight: 130kg or 20.5 stone
• Arm circumference: 21 inches
• Maximum weight lifted: 360kg deadlift and 195kg atlas stone
Following our interview, Paul went to Ottawa to compete in the Junior World’s Strongest Man – he came second, coming closer to his ambition of becoming the World’s Strongest Man.