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Belfast strongman Michael Downey flying high after taking legend Eddie Hall's British record

West Belfast strongman Michael Downey presses a British recording-breaking 127.5 kilos above his head with one arm

WEST Belfast strongman Michael Downey announced his arrival on the big stage by smashing a British record in Scotland last weekend.

The 27-year-old travelled to Glasgow with the aim of breaking the one-arm dumbbell press record held by 2017 World’s Strongest Man Eddie Hall.

Hall, known as ‘The Beast’, pressed 124 kilograms four years ago and that record stood firm until Downey not only beat it, but blew it out of the water, pressing 127.5kg at the SFN Expo on Sunday.

“I had beaten the 124 in training, but doing it in competition, in front of a big crowd, that’s a whole other thing,” he said.

“Eddie Hall and Graham Hicks [current Britain’s Strongest Man] were there at the weekend, Benedict Magnusson as well, all the big names in the sport were all there standing around, cheering you on to do it.

“Everybody knows who Eddie Hall is, he’s renowned for all his records, so for a fella from Belfast to go over and take that record, that’s a pretty big deal.”

And it wasn’t just a physical challenge Downey had to overcome, he also faced the mental anguish of a disappointing showing at the European log lift championships just the day before.

Among the favourites to excel at the event, Ireland’s strongest man struggled to get out of the starting blocks and had to put that out of his mind before his tilt at the one-arm-dumbbell record.

“I don’t know what happened – it was just bad nerves, big crowd, a couple of wrong selections, especially with my opening lift, and I ended up failing the lift.

“That was on the Saturday but my focus was always on the Sunday, so I had to try and just forget about what had gone before. My brother and coach Joe wasn’t able to make it over due to work commitments, but I spoke to him before doing the lift and, mentally, he helped me to do it.

“He’s like a corner man giving advice to a boxer, and I have to listen to everything he says.”

With one record toppled, Downey will now sit down with Joe and work out his strategy going forward.

In an interview earlier this year, Joe Downey spoke about how far he felt his brother could go in the strongman game, and already he is beginning to reap the benefits of the wonders worked last weekend.

He added: “Since I broke that record, I’ve had a management company on from Cambridge saying they wanted to come onboard and look after me; to try and turn this into a bit of a career.

“For me though, I just have to get back training, try and defend my Ireland’s Strongest Man title in December then have another crack at Britain’s Strongest Man in January.

“The organisers of the World’s Strongest Man were over there watching at the weekend, so hopefully picking up a record like that could lead to an invite to the Worlds or another big show.

“It’s an exciting time. Things are starting to fall into place.”

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