Lurgan bodybuilder David Stewart may have raised a few eyebrows at airport security as he returned with his prize from a competition in Florida.
For David, who took second place in the National Gym Association Central Florida Fall Classic, was flying home with a sword as his trophy.
The competition is for natural bodybuilders only - strictly no steroids - and the rules are strictly enforced.
Indeed before being allowed to compete David had to undergo a lie detector test to ensure he was a ‘natural bodybuilder’.
David placed second in the Masters class with 10 athletes in the class and came fourth in the Open class out of 18 athletes.
His trophy for the Masters class success was a sword.
David said: “I’ve been training from 16 years old on and off and decided to start competing six years ago. I held quite a few titles at the Northern Ireland Fitness Model Association (NIFMA) shows then started competing at the British National Bodybuilding Federation (BNBF) shows, where I have placed second three years in a row in the masters over 40 class. My goal is to become the masters champ at the BNBF.”
Of why he started bodybuilding he said: “I started because I was a skinny kid and wanted to change my appearance, so my father took me to a gym one day and when I lifted the weights for the first time I knew it was for me.
“I always wanted to compete but never thought I was good enough till one day I said what the hell and went for it, so looked into shows where it was all natural athletes.”
He added: “For shows you need to be strict on what you eat, when you eat and what types of food you eat and calories per day as it helps to hold onto muscle but, at the same time, you want to bring your body fat down to get great condition and for your muscles to be sitting out.
“I have an amazing coach James Melville from the Compound Room, Lisburn, who I work with very closely. He does all my prep for shows.
“I do all my training at Fitness Factory gym, Lurgan.
“Leading up to shows I put my body through a lot of stress where I will be training two to three times a day six days a week, working on all body parts.”
After Christmas he’ll be getting ready to compete at the BNBF British qualifiers in Belfast (June 15) where he’ll be aiming to win the masters title and qualify for the British finals in Liverpool.
He said: “It would be a dream come true to get top five against the best UK national bodybuilders.”
And of his recent successes: “I still really can’t believe it, It hasn’t really sunk in properly as going over I didn’t expect to place or was even happy to crack the top five.
“I really can’t believe it, I still think it’s all a dream.”
David thanked his family and friends for their support and said his partner Mandy “has been by my side with amazing support”.
He added: “Without Mandy and kids Megan, Ben and Cody it would not have been as special, as it was a family holiday and for the first two days I had to watch them eat all the nice foods. To hear them roaring and cheering the roof down was amazing.
“I really want to say a massive thanks to my coach James, I really wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.”