THE desire to qualify as a Navy clearance diver has seen Yamba man Steve Body earn the right to represent Australia at the 2013 Natural Mr Olympia titles in the United States.
For four days starting tomorrow Body, who left Yamba in 2007 to join the Navy, will represent Australia in the novice category where he will compete against men from around the world.
He placed third at the nationals in Melbourne and third at the NSW finals in Sydney, where he also won medals against more highly experienced competitors in the open men's height class of 180cm and over.
"Height and my broad shoulders give me a real advantage over shorter competitors, which I intend to exploit at the Mr Olympia competition," he said.
Body, 23, has come a long way since he left Maclean High School in Year 10, in pursuit of a career in the Navy. He is posted to HMAS Waterhen in Sydney as a clearance diver.
Over the past five years he has gained so much muscle his overall weight has increased from 70kg to 94kg, which is what led him to explore the possibilities of entering bodybuilding competitions just for fun.
"It's an accident I got into body building. I just needed to get fit to qualify as a Navy clearance diver," he said.
"I wanted to improve my health and fitness so through online research I discovered a lot more about the principles and practices of bodybuilding, and decided to give that a go.
"I love bodybuilding and want to do this forever."
The Natural Mr Olympia event in San Diego will be his first international competition and he will be required to pass a series of strict anti-doping tests in the US before taking the stage to complete eight mandatory poses.
"This is my first year competing so I'm in the novice category and obviously get quite nervous before going on stage to do my routine," he said.
"But getting a place against 15 to 20 other muscle-ripped blokes is totally unreal, and makes all the dedication, training and hardwork worthwhile."
Body said he would be cheered on from afar by his grandparents, Allen and Marcia Body, who live in Lawrence, and work behind the bar of Yamba Bowling Club. The RAN Central Canteens Fund has helped out with $500 sponsorship in an otherwise self-funded trip. Body is studying to become a personal trainer through the Australian Institute of Fitness.
"I intend on passing on and teaching everything I have learnt from bodybuilding and the different training techniques we use," he said.