The power, strength and discipline of Mearns strongman Paul Benton has lifted him into the record books.
Competing in the UK’s Strongest Man competition, a gruelling three-day event in St Albans, he became the first Scotsman to win the coveted title, at the fourth time of asking.
In a nerve-wracking final he fought off a challenge from competition favourite Graham Hicks, the current British champion who was nursing an injury as he went into the final discipline of the ‘Atlas stones’.
The video of this event is above this article.
Paul, 30, of Laurencekirk, had a podium place in his sights and stunned everyone as he stormed his way into first place.
He began the weekend as one of 16 finalists – three from Scotland and Wales, four from Ireland and six from England.
He qualified for the UK event after winning the Scotland Strongman Competition at Jedburgh in June.
Paul had set the bar high over the first two days, being placed first in the ‘car flip’ and truck pull events.
He said: “There are 13 events in total over the three days – the toughest in the world.
“I placed first in the car flip – where you have to flip a car weighing 700 kilos, twice, and was also first in the truck pull where you pull two arctic lorries.
“You pull one for three metres, the strap tightens and you then pull them both – 16 tonnes over 25 metres.”
Paul was lying half a point behind the favourite as the crowd cheered them on in the final event.
He continued: “Graham was carrying an injury after the first event on the final day and was starting to slow down.
“This was my fourth time competing at this competition and I used my experience to keep myself right at the end.
“This was my fifth year of qualifying but I took a year out to get married in 2017. I finished fifth last year, the highest up I have finished was fourth in 2016.
“I was focused on getting my podium position. Whoever won the stones was going to win the title.”
Paul kept the crowd on the edge of their seats as he battled it out to lift the five Atlas Stones onto barrels. They weigh from 100 to 180 kilos.
“I put the third stone up and saw Graham hobble over the fourth stone, I wasn’t sure what was going on.
“I loaded my fourth stone, Graham collapsed on the ground with an injury.
“Because my fourth stone was up I didn’t feel I had to rub it in. I was concerned for him, he’s a really good guy.”
Paul, captain of the Scottish Strongman team, is hoping to inspire the young members of his Laurencekirk gym by passing on his belief that hard work pays off.