Almanack: Taylor comes on strong

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The Independent Online
THE Highland Games season is upon us and invitations aplenty have arrived on the doormat of Gary Taylor, the 1984 Olympic weightlifting silver medallist and one of the 'strong boys' invited to toss cabers and the like. Taylor is particularly in demand because he happens to be Strongest Man in the World and therefore can sell tickets as well as lift up a Citroen 2CV and carry it some 25 metres.

The Scottish trips mean a break for Taylor from work as a physical education officer at Wandsworth Prison, a place not known for its mild-mannered inhabitants. Taylor, however, has had no problems in his eight years there, probably something to do with a rather imposing six-foot, 21-stone physique.

Almanack telephoned Taylor before he set off for his first of many weekends' competition, and found him in rather hot form - only two weeks ago he broke the world overhead weightlifting record. He was also cock-a-hoop about going back up to Scotland: he was looking forward to the sport as well as a reunion with his pals, in particular Magnus Magnusson (no relation), a Scandinavian who is at present Second Strongest Man in the World. And there is also the apres sport: they are partial to a spot of nightclubbing.

But isn't there anyone back at home to complain about all his weekends away? 'No, I'm a single man. Got close once. I'm eligible now. Put that in the paper, could you?'