The World's Strongest Man Eddie Hall has retained his Britain's Strongest Man title at Sheffield FlyDSA Arena for a record fifth time but today described the win as a "miracle" - after battling a secret crippling injury.
Eddie, aged 30, know as 'The Beast', in an exclusive interview revealed that unbeknown to thousands of fans who cheered him on, or his rival competitors, he had dislocated his hip which had put him in a wheelchair.
The only man in strongman competitions to ever deadlift a knee crunching half a tonne - 500kg - said he had been unable to lift more than 200kg in training up to two months ago.
He thrilled millions on TV over Christmas and became a household name when they saw him become Britain's first to win the World's Strongest Man title since Welshman Gary Taylor did it 24 years ago.
But it was filmed months earlier in Botswana and he has since lost over four stones and was left battling what he describes as a 'horrendous' injury which could have ended his strongman career.
He says he will not compete again in the World's Strongest Man finals after achieving his lifelong goal at the cost of health issues - not least of all having to bulk up to around 30 st.
But he did not want rivals to know how bad his injury was, to give them any psychological advantage after he vowed to keep his promise to fans of the sport and return to the Giants Live circuit, including Britain's Strongest Man in Sheffield and the forthcoming Europe's Strongest Man, facing his arch enemy Thor, at Leeds First Direct Arena on April 7.
Eddie, who beat a determined Graham Hicks and Terry Hollands into second and third place, retained his British title in Sheffield on Saturday night, winning three and coming second in two of the six strongman events of log press, deadlift, super yoke - which involved a race carrying two motorbikes - loading race, hammer hold and Atlas stones.
Eddie, the people's champion, said: "It was a tough competition. I had a really bad injury seven months ago. I dislocated my hip and the journey to this has been horrendous, more mentally than anything, because all the pressure was on me to win.
"So to pull it off, I wouldn't say comfortably, is a miracle - because two months ago I couldn't even deadlift 200kg.
"If anyone has dislocated their hip they would know what I have been through. I was in a wheelchair for a week. The recovery was horrendous. So I am very lucky to be standing, yet alone winning Britain's Strongest Man.
"I didn't want the competitors knowing that I have crippled myself a few months back, to give them the edge mentally. It was obvious that I had an injury because I have been limping around the place and people have been talking but nobody knew the extent.
"I was probably about 75 to 80 per cent - nowhere near my strongest.
"But I will be back for Europe's strongest man in Leeds, up against my arch rival Thor and we've got a score to settle."
The score follows the claim by the sport's other top star Hafþór Júlíus "Thor" Björnsson - the Icelandic Game Of Thrones star, who played The Mountain - that he was robbed of the world title. Eddie says he won fair and square.
Despite a gruelling competition in Sheffield Eddie and the other strongmen, plus legends of the sport including four times world champ Magnús Ver Magnússon and three times Word's Strongest Man now TV pundit Bill Kazmaier stayed behind to meet every fan who wanted a photo and autograph after the event.
* For tickets to Europe's Strongest Man at Leeds First Direct Area on April 7, 2018 visit www.firstdirectarena.com.