Tom Stoltman beat autism to win World's Strongest Man TWICE, is a mad Rangers fan, and devoted husband to Sinead

MOVE over Geoff Capes!

Strongman star Tom Stoltman, 28, has matched the former English shot putter by winning the World's Strongest Man TWICE.


The 6ft 8in Scot, who wears size 17 shoes and is nicknamed The Albatross, has enjoyed a remarkable journey to the top.

Aged five, he was diagnosed with autism – which he has opened up about in the past and called the condition "just a hurdle".

When he's not competing, Stoltman watches his beloved Rangers FC – calling their tweet acknowledging his success in last year's World's Strongest Man a "career highlight".

While privately, the real-life Hulk is married to Sinead – who he met topless at a music festival in Scotland when they were just 17… but he wasn't the strapping muscle man he is today.

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Early years

Stoltman was born and raised in the Scottish town of Invergordon, that has a population of just 3,900 people.

It is best known as a place for the repair of oil rigs, but is now on the map for another reason.

As a teenager, he wasn't really interested in lifting. Taking on inspiration from his older brother Luke, who also competes, he began going to the gym at 16.

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He told Sunday Post: "I watched World’s Strongest Man on TV a few times when I was young, but I was more interested in football at that point.

"I started going to the gym at 16 with some mates, but it was just a bit of fun, nothing big.

“At 17, Luke took me under his wing and said we’d do it seriously.

"I’d got a buzz when I saw Luke competing in his first Scotland’s Strongest Man competition, so I thought I’d give it a go.

"There was a gym a half-hour from where we live that had all the kit. I got into it and loved it."

Tom competed in his first competition aged 19, but life has had its challenges for Tom.

Autism

From the age of five, he was diagnosed as autistic.

It was something that made him feel shy when he was at school, while he struggled with how he was perceived.

Stoltman told Bar Bend in April: "Before my diagnosis, when I was younger, I felt a lot of pressure because people in secondary school would see me get extra attention and help.

"Even when I was getting into the sport of strongman, people were paying attention because Luke was doing all the talking."

He accepts that being a strongman has changed his life.

"Before this, I wouldn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t have a girlfriend, and I heard people say I would stay at my parents’ house until I was 30 or 40 years old and wouldn’t be able to keep a job or stay in college," he admitted.


“When you have autism and people say those things, it sticks in your head.

"So I thought I was a failure and wasn’t going to do anything. Now, people can look up to me and it’s a special feeling.

“If I hadn’t got involved in ­strongman, I think I would have been in a dark place.

"I wouldn’t have left my parents’ house or got married or be as socially involved as I am now. I would have locked myself away.

“I know that’s where I was heading – head down, quiet. Being told from a young age that I had autism meant my childhood was hard. I didn’t develop until later.

"Everything was slower. And if my parents or brother went out I’d be screaming until they came back.

“Primary school was OK because it was so small, but when I went to secondary school things went downhill.

"I was out of school all the time. Then I decided to open up and tell my friends and teachers.

"The support I got was unbelievable, so that’s why I’m so open about it now.”

Advocate

Stoltman is so honest and frank about his neurodevelopmental disorder, he has happily become a spokesperson for it.

He regularly visits schools to give talks and offer advice.

He understands he wouldn't be where he is today without autism.

"I think autism makes you a better athlete because when you’re autistic, you’re kind of OCD, and you have a routine that you stick to," he said.

"Think about strongman — eat, sleep, train, every day, repeat. Now, my brain can also monitor how I’m feeling, and I’ve come a long way."


In a chat with The National, Tom revealed why he goes into detail about his autism.

He revealed: "I wanted to make it a bit more vocal, just to let people know I’m not shy, I’m not awkward, it’s just that this is what I’ve got and this is how I live with it.

"I still struggle with it sometimes, I take a lot more time than other people to get some things processed and I’m still kind of nervous about new things.

"I always wanted to be successful for the people that have additional needs.

"I’ve done a lot of talks on it and I want everyone to know that, just because we’ve got a label on our heads, it doesn’t mean that you are different from anyone else, we’ve just got that additional hurdle we have to get over.”

Love of a good woman

Standing at 5ft tall, is the love of Tom's life – and his rock.


Sinead, also 28, met him when he was just 17 at a local music festival.

He was topless, "which was a little strange as Scotland is never really hot," she told OK!

"All the girls fancied him. I think he liked that I was instantly enamoured because at first I kept my fascination to myself."

Soon, they began dating after swapping numbers through mutual friends and would text each other day and night.

At 21, they got hitched – as he was working at Morrisons doing some security work, while she was a qualified support worker.

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Today, they're a celebrity couple – often seen at Rangers games together, where he is bombarded by fans for keep-sake photos.

Now that he's a two-time World's Strongest Man winner, he will be getting more requests from his loving followers next season.

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