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The 7th of August 2014 started as a normal day for me. I had just five weeks to go until my first appearance on stage as a natural bodybuilder. All through 2013 I had competed in male fitness model competitions within the INBA at both local and national levels, successfully placing second at the Natural Olympia in San Diego, California, and second place in Men’s Physique the same day. I had worked very hard on changing my training style and had taken on board a more scientific approach with macro fitting and flexible dieting. But that day, I began getting sharp pains in my stomach.

The pain was constant and wouldn’t go away. For more than two weeks I was in and out of the local medical practice receiving treatment, but nothing seemed to be working. I requested to go to hospital and stayed for a week with various tests and scans all coming back inconclusive. They couldn’t narrow down the cause and released me. A few days later I went back into the emergency room with excruciating pains and was admitted to surgery the very next day. They found I had a major blood clot which had killed 1.3m of my small intestine – all caused by a hereditary blood disorder.

After four weeks of intensive recovery, including physiotherapy and constant blood tests, I was released from hospital having lost a depressing 13kg of bodyweight and gained a whopping 20cm scar down the middle of my abs. But the experience helped me appreciate all the small things in life, as any longer without diagnosis and I wouldn’t be here today telling my story.

By September 29th 2014 I was frail and mentally exhausted from being so close to death. Not only that but all I had worked for, the countless hard hours at the gym and consistent nutrition, had all gone to waste and I was almost back to square one. I went home to recover and had an extra two weeks recovery from work and gym. I began very light weight training and strengthening exercises to try to regain some form of core and full body strength back. It was difficult to experience the extreme strength loss in just six weeks of recovery post-surgery. Times were tough.

There were times I wanted to give up and never start back on my fitness journey but I realised that this was the life I love living, so I sat down and set some goals. I was determined to come back stronger and better than ever.

On May 16th 2015, seven and a half months post-surgery, I flew to Townsville to compete in the INBA Tropix event. I was ready, I was pumped and I had brought the best size and conditioning I could in such a short time. In the most exciting moment in my fitness journey so far, I managed to take out my division in first place! I had such a huge feeling of accomplishment and pride coming from what I had been through less than eight months ago.

To this very day I still have to take my daily medication (an anticoagulant/blood thinner) and I have a 20cm scar on my abs that will never fade. But I have a story to tell. A story about being strong-willed and dedicated to a goal. When you put your mind to it you can achieve almost anything. Never ever give up!

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