Shahlaei is England's strongest
The official strongest man in England is from Stroud.
The truck pulling, Transit van lifting Laurence Shahlaei has squatted, struggled and grimaced his way to the UK Strength Council title in Lichfield.
Despite only winning two events out of six – the truck pull and the big van deadlift – Shahlaei's impressive all around effort meant he claimed victory with one event remaining.
Thirteen of the strongest men in the country took part in the event, including last year's Britain's Strongest Man, Jimmy Marku.
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But none were strong enough to get anywhere near the Stroud giant.
He said: "I was delighted to win it for the first time, especially to beat Jimmy, who only came ahead of me in one discipline.
"I seem to be continuing to improve so hopefully I can keep getting better.
"My target is to get to the final round of the World's Strongest Man this year.
"I didn't get out of my group last year so if I can improve on that I will be happy.
"Than maybe in a couple of years I can compete for the title."
Shahlaei, who grew up in Cheltenham and attended Balcarras School, moves on to Poland next for the World's Strongest Man qualifiers.
He knows he faces a tough task against some of the strongest men in the world.
He has his own opinion on why the strongest men often come from Eastern Europe.
"Not to be rude, but I think it's because they have so little other opportunities," he added,
"Strongman is often a way out of poverty for them.
"Over there it's massive – you get 20,000 people watching events and the competitors are megastars.
"Here it is more of a sideshow.
"My training is going well though.
"So many fall foul of just trying to get stronger, but a lot of it is about technique.
"By focusing on getting better at each event, it seems to have done me good."
After the World's Strongest Man qualifiers, Shahlaei moves on to Ireland for the UK's Strongest Man on Thursday August 13.
He is currently semi-professional and is looking for sponsorship so he can devote all his time to strongman.
Anyone who could be a potential sponsor for him should call him on 07772 644505.