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Geoff Capes
"I believe I'm a poor Henry Cooper or Stirling Moss"
 real 14k

Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Take a look at me now
Geoff Capes
BBC Sport Online's Mike Burnett gets to grips with strongman legend Geoff Capes and finds out what he is up to these days.

Geoff Capes is a man who likes to keep busy.

His sporting career may have finished in 1994, but the former strongman still has plenty to occupy himself with.

These days, Capes has to rely on the power of his mind rather than body to juggle business, pleasure and civic duty.

As well as being chairman of security firm Capes UK, which he started over a decade ago, he is a Justice of the Peace and a devoted breeder of budgerigars.

This is all in addition to a never-ending list of public engagements and a recent return to our television screens in a bizarre commercial for the food product Snackpot.

I've been a world champion in budgerigar breeding
Geoff Capes
"I learnt very early on, not to put all your eggs in one basket, with the jobs so to speak," he said.

He certainly has. He began his adult life as a policeman, and happily points out that he is also a trained roofer by trade.

It is almost hard to believe that he had time to fit in a rather successful amateur and professional sporting career - but he did.

He began in the shot putt in 1967, winning two Commonwealth gold medals, two European indoor medals, a bag of British titles, as well as competing in three Olympic Games.

The accolades did not end there. After turning professional in 1980, he won two World's Strongest Man titles, numerous British and European competitions and five World Highland Games championships.

So it is not surprising that the big man, who holds a record of 67 international caps, still yearns for the old days from time to time.

"Of course, you miss it. I competed from the age of six until I was 45," admitted Capes, before proudly listing his achievements.

Geoff Capes in action in 1980
Capes won a string of shot putt titles
"I'm probably one of the longest-serving athletes that competed - not only as an amateur but as a professional.

"I'm the most capped male athlete of all time, according to the Guinness Book Of Records.

"I've won more internationals than any male athlete. And I've been a world champion in budgerigar breeding.

"Everything I touch I want to do well in and that's the main thing."

But did he always know he would achieve so much?

"At the age of 10 or 11, it is actually documented somewhere in the local press that I said that I will compete for England one day," explained Capes, who was born in 1949.

"I didn't know what in, but I knew I was going to do it.

"I was different from other kids in many ways - I was stronger, faster, taller. It was just which way was I going to go.

"I could have been a boxer, I could have been another athlete, I could have been a basketball player, a rugby player, but I chose athletics and I chose putting a shot.

Lucky for us he did as he has been one of Britain's few successes in the field in recent years.

A budgerigar
Capes knows his birds
As for the new batch of athletes, Capes is far from impressed.

"We did it for sun, having a party and a few beers, and just travel, going around the world and that was our lot.

"Today they won't turn out unless you pay them 10,000 or 20,000 and then they give a p***-poor performance."

Capes was particularly unimpressed by the British shot putt display at the World Championships in Edmonton.

"I won't mention his name, but he threw about 17.5m - I was doing that at 16 years of age!

"To not perform out there, and be the lowest of the low, I would be so embarrassed. My coach wouldn't even have allowed me to go there if I didn't have a chance of winning."

Wasted talent

There is one more thing that grates the bearded Goliath.

"I think what is embarrassing is that I've never been asked to help. I've probably forgotten more than they'll ever know.

"There are a lot of great athletes out there that have never been asked to contribute to the coaching structure of this country. And there is a lot of wasted knowledge."

There is, of course, still time for Capes to revive the British art of hurling a big heavy ball, but for now, shot putt's loss is budgerigar breeding's gain.

"I show, compete and do very well. I'm also a top judge," explained Capes, who discovered the gentle hobby over 30 years ago.

"My aim is to win the Best In Show at the championships. As a competitor, I won't stop trying to be successful."

Budgerigar-breeders, watch out!

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