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Nick Swann, owner of Rhinos Gymnasium in Ryhall Road, Stamford, wins the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness World Championship

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A Stamford gym owner has conquered the world after becoming the first athlete from the United Kingdom for 20 years to win a coveted crown.

Nick Swann – who owns Rhinos Gymnasium in Ryhall Road – won the masters class at the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness World Championship.

The event is run by the sport’s largest federation in the world and follows hot on the heels of Nick’s recent success in the Arnold Classic Europe Bodybuilding competition which he won for the second time in three years.

Nick Swann with his world championship crown.
Nick Swann with his world championship crown.

His latest triumph was hailed as fulfilling a ‘lifetime dream’ as Nick struck gold for the second time this year.

He said: “It really doesn’t get any bigger than this because it was the biggest bodybuilding show in history with 2,000 athletes from 197 countries.

“I beat 16 world class masters from 12 different countries, including last year’s champion who never even placed in the top six because the standard was that high.

“It really was an astonishing and phenomenal victory for me and I have now achieved my lifetime dream to be a world champion.”

Nick had travelled to Santa Susanna in Spain for the four-day event which featured 300 different categories.

He was accompanied by son Sam for what Nick described as being his ‘biggest challenge ever’.

Show day saw Nick’s masters category as the last one to be featured in the 92 different sections and it wasn’t until 11pm that night when he was called into action.

He explained: “It was all about timing and my son Sam was an absolute rock back-stage.

“He’s a competitor himself and an exquisite poser so he knew what I was going through.

“I then hit a real problem with cold sweats which I had never experienced before and could only put it down to the fact that I wanted this so bad it was almost overwhelming.

“This year the standard was insane and I knew it was going to be incredibly tough.

“Sam took me through some deep breathing exercises, but the most overriding thing was the confidence he gave me looking around backstage. To have your son have your back like that was an immense feeling.”

The 20 weeks of preparations and six years of hard work then came to fruition as Nick took to the stage to appear in front of the judges.

The top 10 then went through to the next section before it was reduced to six ahead of the final round where Nick took the plaudits by a massive 14 points.

It was then the presentation ceremony where Nick finished ahead of Eric Gerst (France), Rafael Vera (Spain), Eckart Habelmann (Germany), Jean Dulon (France) and Ioannis Vasalos (Greece) to finish on top of the world.

He enthused: “Tears of joy followed and then came the national anthem. It was a moment I had dreamed of - standing in front of a panel of 13 of the world’s best judges, my family and spectators.

“It was very special and the moment I got to meet up again with Sam and my wife Linda for a family group hug will last forever in the memory.

“Linda had flown out on her own the day before the show just to see me compete. Winning a World Championship is special but to have your loved ones there, those who have supported your journey and to share the moment, makes it so much more special.

“It really hasn’t fully sunk in yet what I have achieved. It was always a bucket list item and dream.

“I did lack a little bit of self-belief but I knew I had the work ethic, commitment and determination to achieve and that has carried me through.”

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