Norfolk gym owner comes second in international strongman competition

The official opening of Big Andy's Gym in Dereham owned by Andy Clarke. Picture: Ian Burt

Andy Clarke, who runs Big Andy's Gym in Dereham, came second at the Official Strongman Games in Florida - Credit: Archant

A Dereham gym owner saw off a host of competition from across the globe to finish as runner-up in the Official Strongman Games. 

Andy Clarke, who runs Big Andy's Gym in Swaffham Road, travelled to the USA to compete by the famous Daytona Beach in Florida.

He was vying for the masters over-50s title and, after two days of hard-fought competition, was leading by two points going into the final day. 

But, as Canadian Michael Saunders came out on top in the final two events, Mr Clarke was beaten to the crown by just a single point. 

The official opening of Big Andy's Gym in Dereham owned by Andy Clarke. Picture: Ian Burt

Andy Clarke, who lives in Swanton Morley, competed in the Official Strongman Games in Daytona, Florida - Credit: Archant

Despite the disappointment of missing out on first place, the 55-year-old said he looks back with pride on his performance. 

"To be quite honest I have had a lot of injuries, especially with my shoulder, and I was the oldest one in my category," added Mr Clarke, who lives in Swanton Morley. 

"I actually thought I might 'no lift' the first event - the log press - because I didn't want to waste my energy. That is the type of event where every single lift is going to be a struggle, but I ended up not doing too badly.

"With the other five events, I was confident because they are all about whether you can do it quicker than the other guys. 

The official opening of Big Andy's Gym in Dereham owned by Andy Clarke. Picture: Ian Burt

Andy Clarke opened Big Andy's Gym in Dereham back in 2016 - Credit: Archant

"I think, because I didn't have great expectations, I didn't put too much pressure on myself. But at the end of the day, everyone was out there to win."

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After the log press, the contest saw Mr Clarke complete five more superhuman tasks: car walk; deadlift ladder; carry and drag; sandbag toss; and atlas stones. 

And he was not the only Norfolk representative in Daytona, as Norwich lifter Leeroi Smith - who also trains at Big Andy's - took part in the under-90kg discipline, finishing tied for third. 

Mr Clarke, who was no stranger to the games having competed in North Carolina in 2017, said their performance - and experience - was something to celebrate. 

The official opening of Big Andy's Gym in Dereham owned by Andy Clarke. Picture: Ian Burt

Andy Clarke runs Big Andy's Gym in Dereham, the only strongman gym in Norfolk - Credit: Archant

He added: "I was the only one in the UK to qualify for the over-50s, and for Leeroi to qualify too is not a bad little achievement for a gym in the middle of Norfolk. 

"It was absolutely fantastic to rub shoulders with all these amazing athletes who you see on Instagram and YouTube. 

"Instead of just feeling like an amateur, you feel like you are really somebody."

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