‘Just a hurdle’ – World’s Strongest Man 2021 champion Tom Stoltman opens up on autism struggle

WORLD'S STRONGEST MAN Tom Stoltman has publicly opened up about his autism struggle.

The hulking Rangers fan, who won the strongman title in June, was diagnosed with the disorder at the age of five.

And in an interview with The National last year, he said: “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.”

The Scot, who wears size 17 shoes and competes alongside older brother Luke, also won Britain's Strongest Man this year.

And he revealed his autism has actually helped his strongman career.

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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.

"Then every athlete and organization started understanding how I processed information.

"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 continued: "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.

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."

"If I wanted to train at 2:00 but can’t until 4:00, my brain can now cope with that. I’m not nervous, panicking, or overwhelmed because of the change.

"In a sport like strongman, you have to mature quickly. It’s you versus 12 people, and 12,000 people are watching — there’s nowhere to hide.

"In a few shows, I got overwhelmed and had to take a step back, and the Hercules Hold is an example.

"Now when I train, I repeat “squeeze, hold, squeeze, hold,” and that has helped me a lot.

"When you get those simple instructions, it’s like concrete. When my mind is right, no one can beat me."

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