Colin Jones proved that absence makes the heart grow stronger after a determined and powerful performance earned the behemoth the title of Burnley and Pendle’s strongest man.
The 29-year-old, who owns Padiham’s Riverside Gym and Absolute Fitness in Clitheroe, returned after a three-and-a-half year break from competition to seal the championship in the opens category.
Jones, who scooped the UK North tag, shifted a ridiculous amount of weight in front of hundreds of spectators at Hapton’s Best Centre to beat off Mariusz Pilinski (Welshpool Wales) and Richard Hansan (Driffield) who took second and third place respectively.
With special guest referee Graham Hicks, Britain’s number two, in attendance as well as former world number four Mark Felix and UK number four Ash Rumsam, the pressure on Jones was intensified.
But he used all his experience to battle through with a commanding display.
“It was a massive relief to win it,” he said. “Especially coming from Burnley. I needed to win that competition so I was ecstatic to do it.
“It’s my biggest achievement because of what the competition was and who was in it. There were a few rivals I wanted to beat.
“In terms of pressure too it was the biggest competition I’ve done. There was a lot of expectation on me because I’ve been around for a while. It was massive but doing it has made me want to do more.”
Jones won the axle press, lifting a staggering 125kg for seven reps, and mastered the sandbag carry when manoeuvring 130kg over 110m in a 90 second time limit.
He culminated the deadlift in second spot when recording nine repetitions at 280kg and narrowly missed out on victory in the front hold when straining for 59 seconds with 20kg.
“Jones also registered a second place finish in the farmers walk after managing 145kg in each hand.
“I didn’t realise how highly people thought of me,” he said, when praised by competitors at the finish.
“I think they appreciated my controlled and composed approach. Other guys were trying to use brute strength over technique. I was told that I was inspirational to watch which was nice to hear.
“The atmosphere was great and one of the best I’ve ever experienced as a strongman. I didn’t enjoy the pressure that was on me to perform but overall it was a great event.”
Ian Phillips from Sheffield reigned supreme in the under 105 class with Chorley’s Andy Robinson and Bolton’s Andy Hibbert flanking the victor on the podium.
Nathan Young (Prenton on the Wirral) triumphed in the novice category with Burnley’s Calum Fishwick joining Sheffield’s Duane Manion in second spot while Adrian Blake (Essex) came third.
And in the under 90s category Bacup’s Rohan Sudderick was victorious with Sean Smithson (Oswaldtwistle) in second spot and James Turner (Kent) in third.
Event co-organiser Wayne Fulton, who is helped by wife Amy, said: “This was Burnley and Pendle Strongman’s second event and it was a roaring success.
“We’re absolutely made up and we have even bigger and better plans for next year. For me personally my focus now is the England’s Strongest Man qualifiers in May.”
Wayne, who brought the discipline back to the town with the push:pull challenge in November at the Rosegrove Railway Club, added:
“I would like to thank our sponsors Absolute Fitness and Riverside Gym (t-shirts), Strength Shop UK (prizes) and Seriun Limited of Burnley (trophies).
“Burnley and Pendle Strongman will return with the follow up push:pull challenge later in the year.”