Morecambe’s Graham Hicks returned to action in fine style as he came second at Britain’s Strongest Man.
The 32-year-old hadn’t competed properly since July but pushed reigning World’s Strongest Man and eventual champion Eddie Hall all the way at the Sheffield Arena on Saturday.
Several events went down to the wire with Hall taking the title by seven points, 72 to 65, after six different disciplines in front of an 8,000-strong crowd.
“I’ve been training quietly and felt good going in,” said Hicks, who works at BAE Systems in Warton.
“I just got my head down and didn’t have a weak event.
“I made two mistakes in two different events and if I hadn’t I could even have won, that’s how close it was.
“The final points don’t tell the whole story because the margins between us in some of the events were tiny.
“I went in wanting to push him, he’s the World’s Strongest Man and I went to head-to-head with him in every event.”
Being on the podium against the best in Britain opens up the possibility of a return to the sport’s pinnacle event for Hicks.
This year’s World’s Strongest Man is in the Philippines but managing training, competing, work and family commitments may prove difficult.
Entering Europe’s Strongest Man in Leeds in April may be a more realistic major event for Hicks to tackle.
“I’ve got a family wedding and going out to the Philippines isn’t straightforward,” he said.
“It’s difficult but there’s also Europe’s in April.”
In terms of longer-term aims, Hicks is determined to go one better than second in Britain somewhere down the line.
“My goal is to win Britain’s Strongest Man,” he said.
“I’m not going to say I’m going to be World’s Strongest Man but being the best in Britain is realistic.
“With work and things there’s only so many shows I can do in a year.
“I committed to too many last year and didn’t do as well as I’d like.
“I didn’t have enough time for rest and recovery and things like that. But I’m feeling as strong and as fit as I ever have at the moment.”