Dave Neill has been backed to muscle his way into the UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (UKBFF) record books.
The Fratton Gym member earned the right to compete at the sporting body’s British Championships after winning his category at the UKBFF South Coast Bodybuilding Show in April.
Held at Portsmouth’s Guildhall, Neill won the under-80kg intermediates title – making up for the eighth-placed finish he recorded in his debut show 12 months before.
Now the Flying Bull School learning mentor and former Moneyfields FC footballer is being tipped to make the next step up and pose a serious threat to his national rivals at the Trafford Centre, Manchester, in October.
Fratton Gym owner Nick Martell has witnessed at close quarters the hard work and dedication Neill has put in over the past two years in the bid to be body beautiful.
And he believes such commitment, which involves early-morning starts, high-intensity training sessions and a strict diet, will pay off.
‘I think Dave can do very well at the British Championships later this year,’ said Martell.
‘If he goes into it as he did the show at the Guildhall, he can do very well and then progress even further in the sport. A top-three place would be amazing, and he can do it.
‘Dave’s come on really well since he started doing some proper training at the gym about two years ago.
‘After not placing at the South Coast Championships last year, he came back to the gym even more determined to succeed and has been putting the effort in.
‘His teaching takes up a lot of his time, while his wife has just had their second child, which means he’s had a couple of weeks off.
‘But the school have been really good to him and provide him with a lot of support.
‘He’s a great asset for the gym and everyone now comes up to him and asks him for advice.
‘He’s come on leaps and bounds since turning up at the gym two years ago and deserves to do well.’
Neill said winning his category at the Guildhall provided a massive boost to his confidence.
He also thanked Martell for all the support he’s provided in getting him to the brink of a national title.
‘It was a massive relief when I won in April,’ said Neill.
‘It sort of made all the hard work and 6am starts worthwhile.
‘It felt great to lift the massive trophy I was presented with and to qualify for nationals.
‘Everything is going well now and I’m looking forward to October.
‘After finishing eighth in my first competition, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to continue or not.
‘But Nick inspired me to carry on and drew up a training and diet programme and we just took it from there.
‘I was better prepared for the show the second time and even did a photoshoot beforehand and knew I would have a better chance.
‘It’s a strange sport. You don’t know what you’re up against on the day and have to have faith in yourself and all the hard working and dieting you’ve done to build your muscles up in the build-up.’