A man from Oldham has been crowned the UK's strongest man for the third year in a row after taking on some of the toughest weightlifting challenges in a fierce competition.

Paul Smith was born in Sheffield, the 'city of Steel' which fans attribute towards his superhuman strength, but has lived in Oldham for the past five years with the world's strongest woman winner of 2021, his wife, Shannon, and their newborn baby.

The 29-year-old, who is 5ft11 and weighs in at 130kg, has been powerlifting and training for the past 14 years, taking his training seriously by looking for places in Royton and venturing out to the Triple X Performance Centre in Stalybridge as well as Heavenly Bodies in Moorside.

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The father's efforts have seen him win the coveted title of UK's Strongest Man twice already - in 2022 and 2023.

The competition sees 12 of the country's toughest men battle it out for the championship, pulling trucks, rolling cars, flipping tyres, lifting heavy stones and battling out on the 'steps of hell' with hopes of taking home the trophy.

This year, Channel 5 broadcast the event live for the first time in its 26-year history from the Cardiff arena on June 8 and June 9, starting with the semifinal where the 12 competitors were whittled down to just eight finalists.

At the start of the broadcast, commentators quickly identified Paul Smith as one "very special" athlete and a "red hot favourite".

Returning to claim the title for the third year on the bounce, Channel 5 presenters said he is "the man to beat".

The first round saw competitors attempt to bend three steel bars, which decrease in length each round, in just 75 seconds.

Paul said he hadn't done this in a competition before, and bent two of the bars before tapping out on the third alongside other competitors, to reserve energy.

Event two then saw him take on the 325kg 'brick box' deadlift - a move Paul practices "relentlessly" - which the strongman managed to lift twice. 

In the hotly anticipated 'car roll', a 20-metre course where the bodybuilders roll a car 360 degrees twice within 75 seconds, Paul tactfully rolled the car just the once - again to conserve energy for the final.

It took a team of five men to then move the car back to its original position for the other competitors. 

Paul's efforts breezed him through to the final and meant he was spared the dreaded 'steps from hell' eliminator round, where the bottom three unlucky lifters are tasked with carrying 200kg in a 'duck walk' for 30 metres, then carrying it up five steps.

The finalists returned to the ring on Sunday for day two of the competition, involving the dramatic truck pull, 'monster' 430kg tyre flip, a 90kg 'daddy dumbbell' press, a 300kg car deadlift hold and atlas stones.

Paul got off to a strong start in the truck pull, dragging the pair of lorries to the 20m finish line in just 36.36 seconds, which put him at the top of the leaderboard for the round.

Paul said: "It's quite a fast pull, we expected it was going to be heavy so you've really just got to be quick.

"There's no time to waste at all. 

"Low, low, low, drive, drive, drive."

Then in the monster tyre truck heat, Paul came second after flipping the tyre three times which put him in joint first place overall with Scotland's Louis Jack.

Renowned as the 'master of the daddy dumbbell', Paul almost broke the world record as he lifted the 90kg weight nine times.

In the fourth event, competitors endured a painful 'physical and mental dual' by facing off in the car lift.

Paul held the car for a triumphant 63.91 seconds after watching Louis crumble seconds before the minute mark.

The win firmly put Paul in the lead with Louis close behind and Andrew Flynn in third place.

Paul said after the performance: "I love the car hold, it's just about who's got the best pain tolerance.

"Thankfully Louis, I saw him shake - he held on to get a second so I knew once he went down, just a few more seconds to get the win.

"A lot of guys don't like this event, it's not comfortable and a lot of guys don't respond very well to it."

Finally, the eight men took on the Herculean task of lifting atlas stones, which increase in weight and size from 100kg to 160kg, onto platforms.

In the intense head-to-head for the trophy, both Louis and Paul successfully lifted all five stones in 28 seconds with Louis narrowly pipping Paul to the post in a matter of milliseconds.

However, Paul was crowned UK's Strongest Man 2024 which he said was down to his strong performance across all the events - and with Louis hot on his heels throughout.

He added: "I pull it out of the bag when I need to."

Taking to the podium, Paul took home the gold trophy, Louis the silver and Andrew the bronze.

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