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Strongman Dan hopes to inspire weightlifters

At 5ft 5in tall and weighing in at a little over nine stones, former Driffield resident Dan Cronin does not look like your typical strongman.

Dan certainly looks very different to some of the competitors seen on television screens over the Christmas period taking part in the World’s Strongest Man.

However, the 28-year-old ex-Driffield School & Sixth Form student is living proof that strongman events are for everyone.

The hospital pharmacy assistant, who now resides in Hessle and trains out of a gym on Hull’s Sutton Fields Industrial Estate, regularly lifts more than three times his 58-kilogram bodyweight despite only taking up the sport three years ago.

And Dan has had more than most to overcome as he suffers from diabetes, is blind in his left eye and struggles with vision out of the other.

But going to the gym and competing in strongman events have brought a renewed confidence to Dan’s life, improving both his physical and mental health as a result.

It was only through a conversation with a work colleague that Dan decided to go along to the gym, with his previous experience limited to using the weights and cardio machines at Driffield Leisure Centre as a teenager.

However, after discovering it was something he enjoyed wholeheartedly, Dan continued returning to the gym, which eventually led to him entering competitions where his progression has been evident.

But although he has reached a level he would never have expected to scale, Dan told the Wolds Weekly that his main focus remains having fun whilst doing something he has grown to love.

“I got into weightlifting through a friend at work when he invited me to go along to the gym with him on a weekend around three years ago and I took it up from there,” he said.

“After the first couple of sessions, I returned every now and again and discovered I enjoyed it.

“About a year later, I decided I wanted to be more competitive. That largely came about because of the support from people at the gym who already competed.

“Weightlifting wasn’t something I had ever considered before. When I was school, I would use the sports centre gym a couple of times a week but more for something to do than anything serious.

“I enjoy the feeling of improving and being better than you have been before. I like working hard at something for a few weeks or months, and then at the end of it, seeing how far you have come.

“It’s amazing how much progress you can make. There is always something new to learn or aspects you can adjust.

“Sometimes it pays off instantly, other times it takes a bit longer.

“I’ve competed on a few occasions, with the emphasis placed on it being fun. I set myself targets, and if I beat them, then I’ve won.

“If I can go into competitions and prove that the work that I’ve been putting in is improving my levels, it’s a win-win.

“The strongman community is a very welcoming one. Everyone encourages you to just have a go.

“I’ve surprised myself massively. It hasn’t happened overnight and it isn’t until you look back that you realise how far you have come.

“My physical and mental health has been a lot better since I started going to the gym.

“That’s just one of the extra benefits and I feel a lot more confident in myself.”

When Dan arrives at competitions, he is often the competitor with the slightest build.

But he said that he has never received any negative feedback from his fellow strongmen at the three competitions he has entered.

It’s for this reason that Dan would urge anyone who has even the slightest interest in giving strongman training and events to do so.

He certainly hasn’t regretted his decision.

“I used to watch the World’s Strongest Man programmes around Christmastime and think it was incredible,” he said.

“But not for one small moment did I think that I would do any of that.

“I would say to anyone interested, just have a go. There will be gyms locally where people can help anyone who fancies it.

“And if you don’t like it, you don’t. At least you’ve tried. I wouldn’t have been in this position if I hadn’t done that.”

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