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April 02, 2018 4 min read

I wake up most mornings at a silly time when even the fabled early bird is still in his deep sleep, this isn't through choice, through necessity, and it certainly isn't through me feeling refreshed, recharged and ready for the day, this is I honestly believe my body asking my brain if it's shut down each night with no intention to wake back up. There is a stigma in the world about men talking of their issues the fear of being emasculated after all men are supposed to be the pillars that support family's, children's idols in what should be, and why would anyone wish to break that pillar? So I hide it... I'll do stupid shit that other people won't, I'll try doing a handstand on a barrel that was never going to end well but it made other people laugh when I fell off it or ride inside a tractor tyre and be pushed down a hill just to entertain others and make them believe that my world is just as novel as theirs but that's only face value. 

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For me competing in sport is almost like a hurdle. I set a goal with not just the desire to smash that goal but also the desire to survive till that date like a checkpoint "you've made it till now let's see what's next". I've generally competed in sports that it doesn't matter how well I do but for the whole character building side of competition. Competing in strongman gave me the chance to see what I could do physically when mentally i could break so easily. Now I've worked my way up to competing at one of the highest stages I can achieve so now I have the pressure of wanting to do well added and believe me it weighs more then any of the things I'm asked to do at these events. 

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The gym and training in general has been the only consistent thing in my life for the last 8-10years. I've moved homes, had a child, changed jobs and been out of work all together, So the consistency of training was probably the only thing that kept me on the bridge rather then throwing myself off it.

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In 2018 I was lucky to be welcomed into the tuffwraps team and the guys couldn't do any more to try and help you, with travel to events, organising team days so you get to see other people train in different locations to break up the same eat sleep train repeat routine that kills off a lot of people's training. In May I have the biggest comp I have done to date and the likely hood of me attempting it without the team there is very unlikely I would of just watched the opportunity breeze right past me again.

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I love competing in this sport not because of the glory of being able to say I'm stronger then someone else (although I do like to throw it about when the banters flowing at the gym) but I love surprising people when they see this 80kg (12st something) guy walking out onto the same arena as guys weighing literally twice the weight, you can already see a lot of them think "he looks like he's here to take the piss not to take this seriously" and to start with it was a little demoralising as I'm walking to the equipment seeing the crowd look away, check their phones, correct their hair as they already think I'm about to fail so why bother watching. So when I then outlift, move faster, do more reps then the guys they came to cheer on their perspectives change, they start to really understand the "don't judge a book by its cover" expression and you see them then cheering for you aswell. They want to see what you can really do and that's the big incentive for me, people I don't know and will probably never meet again, for just that moment cheering for you, uplifting you and making that mental burden you carry around just that little bit lighter 

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In the video for this picture you can see a member of the crowd shaking their heads to each other giving the "he won't do it" chat to the people next to them especially as I think 7 of the 15 people that day had already failed the lift, soon as I put it down everyone was clapping or smiling, giving that little chuckle of surprise. So that little 15 second video is something I watch over and over when I need something to remind me that I can impress people and I'm not a hinderance to everyone around me.

I guess that really a lot of the world aren't aware that for a lot of people sport, training, competing isn't just for glory or vanity or the need to be the best. For a lot of us it's the only thing keeping us here the only thing that's making the idea of tomorrow a little more desirable.

Toby-James Chiverton

Strongman Competitor

IG @emajency

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