A ROBUST athlete has lifted his way to becoming the winner of a European strongman competition.

Ben Brunning was born and raised in Dovercourt before moving to Wales in his twenties.

For three years running the 23 stone builders' merchant has held the Wales' Strongest Man title.

On Sunday, Ben, who stands at 6ft1, was also crowned the winner of the Official Strongman Games European Championship.

The punishing competition was held in Rotherham where Ben had to deadlift 320kg, carry a 140kg log, run 20metres carrying 400kg on a metal frame, hold a 25kg hammer for as long as possible, and run and throw a 120kg sandbag .

The 31-year-old won three out of five of the challenges, making him the strongest man in the championship.

Ben, a former Dovercourt swimmer and rugby player, said he was "over the moon" with the result.

He said: "Winning this championship was a big step up that I have wanted to make for a while.

"Knowing I could do it and showing everyone I could was a great feeling.

"I've had lots of support behind me and making my family proud of me is great."

There were 85 people competing in the competition on Sunday, and 12 in Ben's category.

His competitors were in the 16.5 stone and above category.

For the first round competitors had to deadlift 320kg as many times as possible within a minute.

In another round Ben had to lift a 140kg log above his head as often as possible within a minute.

He then carried a 400kg metal frame and ran 20metres with it.

Ben also had to hold a 25kg hammer in front of himself for as long as he could and run 20metres twice with a 120kg sack before throwing it onto a 4ft platform.

The weight Ben lifted throughout the day added up to one tonne in total.

Ben is now focusing on competing in the world championships in Florida, which is in November.

After the competition in America, Ben will be competing in Britain's Strongest Man.

He said: "I have to train week in week out and do deadlifts, squats and overhead lifts.

"The sooner you start training for a compeition the better, and you have to keep lifting."

If Ben wins Britain's Strongest Man in January 2020 he will have a chance to compete at the World's Strongest Man competition.

Ben said the support from his family gives him motivation.

He said: "All my family still live in Harwich and say they are really proud of me.

"They are brilliant."