Leigh Bland, 37 a former Royal Air Force Technical Engineer, does not do things by half. Leigh has joined Pilgrim Bandits on several trips, but in the last nine months, he has focused on a deeply personal and demanding journey to secure a place in the World’s Strongest Disabled Man Competition in September. Here in his own words is Leigh’s remarkably honest account of how far he has travelled so far
“Nine months ago, I joined a local gym to get fitter for my archery, I employed a Personal Trainer called Andy Smith, who has since become my best friend and mentor. A month in Andy introduced me to strongman type training, at the time I was very sceptical as the type of weights were far more than I could ever lift plus I was worried about my prosthetic leg. To start I couldn’t even lift a 50kg atlas stone and I struggled to deadlift 60kg.
I gave the style of training a chance and I progressed quickly and found that it not only helped me physically but mentally too, lifting my mood and I felt less depressed and started to interact with people more. In October, I had major surgery on my leg again putting me back in my wheelchair but only 2 days after coming out of hospital I wheeled a mile to the gym dodging cars blocking most pavements and hopped up the stairs carrying the wheelchair in my hand. I did this nearly every day even in -5C.
By January I decided that archery was no longer for me and that Strongman was what really mattered to me and I looked for competitions, this is when I discovered other disabled strongmen and Britain’s Strongest Disabled man comp, I showed my interest contacting the organiser. I attended some Strongman events held by another disabled strongman and former Grenadier Guard Mark Smith – Mark has been a huge inspiration to me and helped me and given me a lot of advice.
In March, I entered Britain’s Strongest Disabled Man. I have trained Monday to Friday without fail no matter my mood or if I have been ill I still went and gave it my all. When May 14th came around I put everything I had into competing determined to podium and qualify for the World’s Strongest Disabled man, and I did placing 2nd strongest.
Now begins my journey to the Worlds being held in London on September 3rd, I still train Monday to Friday, regular sports massage, eat the right food, supplements every day, regular rest, every penny I have spare goes into my strongman training. I will be World’s Strongest Disabled Man.”
We don’t doubt it Leigh, and we wish you all the very best.