Weeks of dedication paid of for Andrew Pickering as he picked up the biggest title of his career to date.
For the second year running, he won Class One in the National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association’s British finals, but he was also named the overall champion, having been edged out in 2016.
Andrew, who runs the Universal Physique gym in Havelock Place, said: “I’m now Yorkshire champion, UK champion and a three-time Mr Britain.
“There are guys I speak to who are in their 50s who have trying to do it just once for their entire lives.
“It was a bit surreal at first when I won, but it was an amazing feeling.
“I think it took a week to sink in.”
Now 32, he has been competing since he was 25 and now has his body fat level down to around just 4%.
Andrew said: “You’ve got to be a bit mental to be a bodybuilder. It is definitely the hardest sport to be involved in.
“You’ve got to be consistence with your fitness and nutrition and maintain it. And you are being judged aesthetically.”
“I did 12 to 15 weeks of preparation for it, and the start and the finish are the hardest parts.
“You have to take your food and drink with you everywhere you go.
“You are never off duty, apart from when you are asleep, and even then you are just trying to fit sleep in.”
When he is preparing for a competition, Andrew is up at 5am every day to do his first workout before eating.
He has breakfast at 7am and has around seven small meals a day, having his last food at 11pm each day.
“You don’t sleep brilliantly,” he admits. “I have five solid meals a day, although the portion sizes are quite small, and two liquid meals.”
Despite the rigorous preparation, Andrew almost pulled out of the competition a couple of weeks before it took place.
His grandfather, and his biggest supporter, Leonard Teale, suffered a stroke.
“He is 89 but he has been to support me at every single show.
“When this happened, I almost pulled out. But when he was in hospital, he kept saying he wanted me to do the show.
“It put a fire inside me and made me even more determined to win.”
The competition was streamed live over the internet so Leonard and his wife Anne, who live in Hutton Cranswick, could watch Andrew’s success in Southport.
“He said it was the proudest moment of his life,” said Andrew.