A CONTENDER to be the country's strongest man had to pull out of his latest competition after breaking both his legs in a freak accident.

Matt Heys, from Burnley, was on course to reach the UK Strongest Man finals in May, but fell 40ft down a riverbank while out walking six weeks ago, resulting in catastrophic injuries that could put him out of action for two years.

Mr Heys, who trains in Great Harwood, is determined to resume his career, though.

He said: “I went walking in the early hours and it was pitch black and I took a wrong turn and fell about 40ft.

“I suffered a compound fracture in my right foot, I broke my fibula and tibia in my right leg, and have a broken ankle on my left leg.

“I’m at home recuperating and I go back into hospital for further surgery next week.”

Mr Heys was in training for a round of qualifiers, which if he was successful in, would see him making it to the finals in 2020.

He said he’d been the fittest and fastest he’d ever felt.

He said: “I was ready to take on the best the UK has to offer. But this has potentially put me out of competing for the next two years.”

It’s not the first time Mr Heys has had such bad luck.

In 2015, the 37-year-old dropped a 125kg keg weight on his big toe, leaving him with no choice but to pull out of the Elite Britain’s Strongest Man, in which he was sitting in third place.

At the time, the dad-of-six said: “As the keg came down I tried to move my foot out the way and it didn’t go far back enough and it landed on my big toe. The pain was excruciating. I was hyperventilating.”

Mr Heys said despite being gutted at suffering another setback he will come back stronger than ever. He added: “I will definitely still compete once I’m recovered as it’s in my blood and I’m determined to win next time.”