BEFORE I became an endurance athlete I had a love for strength sports. Rather than hours and hours spent on a bike I would be in a gym lifting weights.

It wasn’t to compete against others in competition but just to test my own mind and body.

And if you were involved in any form of strength and power sports over the last 40 years then there was one name that would always come up: Douglas Edmunds.

Known as the Godfather of Strongman, he became a familiar face on our TV screens as the referee for the World Strongest Man competition. He was a giant of a man and his character and trademark Highland dress were recognised around the world.

Edmund formed The World Strongest Man competitions alongside David Webster, allowing some of the greatest strength athletes in the world such as Bill Kazmaier, Geoff Capes and characters like Jon Pall Sigmarsson to come to prominence. But, before that, he was also an incredible athlete in his own right.

A national and world champion in his day, he took the Highland Games around the world and actually came up with lots of the events we see in the competitions to this day.

Growing up in Newtonmore, I was exposed to the Highland Games at a young age.

I was fascinated by these athletes, even if genetics would dictate that no matter how many hours I spent in the gym I was never going to move weights like them. But just to watch as a young boy it inspired me to join the gym and grew my love of sport.

In lots of ways my hunger for knowledge of the mind and body which has kept me alive over the last 11 years started from witnessing these athletes moving heavy objects.

This year has been relentless, and it continues to take from us in all manner of ways. Not just with more lockdowns and people losing their jobs, but with the loss of loved ones and icons we hold dear. Not only did Sir Sean Connery pass away last Saturday, just as I was leaving London I learned of the passing of Big Doug.

I never met Douglas but I remember standing watching many a Highland games and seeing him.

He was such a big character it was hard not to notice him.

I also followed the career of his son Gregor Edmunds over the years.

But during lockdown I was fortunate to be introduced to Douglas via my column here.

I was humbled to hear that he followed it and we had some great chats on the phone about sport and also around our personal health challenges.

We spoke about me coming to visit and he shared some great stories of his life in sport.

I was very much looking forward to coming home to Speyside and visiting him to just sit and talk about sport with the Godfather of Strongman.

So to get that message just as I was leaving to fly to Jamaica gave me a pang of regret that I never got the chance to meet this great man.

But I will always be grateful for the phone calls and for his wife Linda sending me one of his books.

Big Doug will certainly be missed around the world.

It also gave me another reminder about the dangers of doing something that we are all guilty of, and that is putting things off.

We all say we will do things tomorrow or visit a friend when we are not so busy.

But this has shown me the importance of slowing down and making time – not just for our friends but for ourselves.

Both Sir Sean and Big Doug are great Scots who leave an incredible legacy around the world.

Already there is talk of bringing the World Strongest Man to Scotland next year as a tribute to Douglas Edmunds.

I for one would love to come back and see this.