Being a policeman, firefighter or prison officer means you have to be physically and mentally strong.

But did you know that people involved in these occupations take part in their own Olympic-style championships?

Well, it's true and Beckenham can boast to having one of its champions.

Gary Bellinger, who is 40 and has worked for 10 years with the British Transport Police, is based at Waterloo and he returned from Indianapolis with a prized gold medal after winning the 110kg class power-lifting title.

The World Police, Fire & Prison Officers' Championships are held every two years and Great Britain sent a 300-strong team to America for the Games, which attracted around 12,000 competitors from more than 40 countries worldwide.

His trip to America cost more than £1,000, of which the Police force paid £400 and gave him 10 days extra leave.

Gary, though, was the only one representing Transport Police from the London area and he had to compete against 25 other power-lifters, including some very powerful Americans.

Each competitor had three lifts and Gary's combined 470kg lift earned him the gold.

He said: “My best bench press lift was 175kg, while I raised 295kg in the dead-lift section.

The concept of of these games involving people from the services was first started by the Americans and they always field a very powerful team.”

But success is nothing new to Gary who, in addition to training at home, does about 10 hours of workouts at the Crystal Palace Sports Centre.

Gary has now win six medals two of each type in these type of games after winning in Indianapols and he is already looking forward to the next games planned for Barcelona in 2003.

But the odds are that he won't have to wait that long for more medal-winning chances as in the years in between the games, each service holds its own indiviaul championships.

Gary added: “The next Police Games will be held in Canada next year and I will be there ... provided I can find the money.”