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Chippenham’s Dave Walsh Second In World’s Strongest Disabled Man

January 1, 2021

A British man who came second in a competition to find the world’s strongest disabled man says it feels “great” if a little “sore”.

Dave Walsh, 34, from Chippenham, Wiltshire, used to take part in able-bodied strongman competitions until he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

He now competes in his wheelchair in the seated category and took part in the virtual competition from Somerset.

“I came first out of Britain and second in the world, which is great,” he said.

Mr Walsh joked: “It feels sore, but quite great really.

“When I was diagnosed with MS I kind of thought that had taken everything away from me, I’d have to stop, and I couldn’t do it any more.

“So to be able to continue the sport in the disabled category was everything to me.

“There is always that goal to get as high as I can, without thinking about the worlds too much, but when it came along, I really wanted it.”

The World’s Strongest Disabled Man competition was able to take place during the coronavirus pandemic with events filmed for a live feed and watched by judges Magnus ver Magnusson and Arnar Mar Johnson, who are based in Iceland.

Events took place on Sunday from around the world including in Germany, America and Australia, with the British men competing from Nailsea in Somerset.

Each location had their own referees, but competing in this way had its own challenges, Mr Walsh said.

“You’re not going head to head in front of people, so there is no guidance about how many reps you might need to beat someone else,” he said.

“Usually when you have a crowd or you’re going alongside your peers you get a bit more adrenaline going, a bit more of a rush, but the people who were there all made it, cheering you along.”

‘A monster’

Mr Walsh said they were also limited to more “basic events” – rather than pulling large vehicles – to ensure everyone had access to the same equipment.

He added his favourite event was the seated deadlift, in which he came second.

“The chap who won is from Germany, and if I’m totally honest the guy is a monster,” he said.

“We did the seated deadlift for maximum weight, I pulled 480kg, the winner pulled 555kg which is a new world record, so he did really well on that.”

Competing alongside Mr Walsh, in a different category, was Gary Clarke, the UK’s first ever disabled strongman and founder of Britain’s Disabled Strongman Competition.

Mr Clarke, 43, who is from Chard and has cerebral palsy, said: “I was pleased they were able to find a way to carry on, obviously it has been different this year, but it was a good show, all the safety precautions were put in place and fair play to them for putting it together.

“We’ve got a strong contingent in Britain and I am so proud of all our athletes…we certainly gave a good account of ourselves [at the worlds].”

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