Fast forward to 2011. I was so excited I started with my contest prep couple of weeks earlier.
In 2009 I was getting some help from Mezza, but this year I decided to do it on my own. The reason why I decided to do almost all qualifiers is that I wanted to find out what works and what does not work for me, in both, training and diet wise.
I clearly remember my first NPA qualifier – Yorkshire – in May. I competed U-78kg and finished 2nd. I was happy with that. There was a great line up of eight competitors. Black guy won first place and he looked very good. Standard at this show was fantastic. I had to travel very far by train, I don`t remember but it took me all day to get there. One thing I knew for sure, doesn`t matter what will happen… I have no chance to get back home to Oxford where I lived at the time. I had no money for hotel and wasn`t sure where will I sleep that night.
I asked couple of people from the show but nobody seems to be driving all the way to Oxford. But at the very end, one of the judges, Mr. Lee Kemp, he told me that he can drive me all the way to Birmingham, and from there I can catch the coach to Oxford. Can you imagine how I felt, big relief… I knew Lee from my very first NPA show as a Novice competitor, I won NPA South East Novice back in 2008 and Lee was doing my drug test – will never forget that.
So after couple of hours driving back to Birmingham with Mr. Lee I was so happy that I will be back home. It just shows you how nice people were within this organisation. Nobody knew me and they were treating me very nicely from the beginning.
My second show was BNBF Southern ( I competed there in 2008 as a Novice and finished 3rd ). This was my main show this year and all the timing was spot on. I won my class U-78kg middleweight and almost won the overall. I was happy with how I looked that night but still felt I could do much better. I was lean and muscular but I couldn`t hold on that much muscles after I was dieting for couple of months.
So after two qualifiers with two different organisations I had already qualified for both British finals with NPA and BNBF. Yes, this was my goal too but I didn`t want to derive from my original plan – to enter all NPA qualifiers. So my next stop was NPA South West qualifier.
After my BNBF win I went back home to Slovakia for my summer holiday. I was still eating clean and training hard so I didn`t enjoy it as much as I normally would but still I could spent time with my family and get some rest from work ( I was working in coffee shop in Oxford at the time – long hours behind the bar almost every day ).
After my return back to UK I went straight to the contest venue and competed again in the middleweight category U-78kg. I finished 3rd and looked little bit smooth. Maybe all that traveling or different food, could be both. But it was good show and I met another great people along the road.
Next stop was NPA Midlands where I finished 2nd again in U-78kg category. It was a great show and I looked good but still felt like I am missing something…. At that point I started to readjust my diet and starting to experience more.
My next contest was NPA South East – my favorite venue as at this place I won my first NPA show as a Novice back in 2008. I finished 2nd again and the judges were making some kind of jokes about me already. The guy who won became one of my best friend ever since – Sandor Nagy from Hungary, Budapest living in London at the time. We became very good friends instantly. He looked amazing and I congratulate him on his win. But anyway, I kept on going. I was making notes into my book about diet, training, cardio, I asked judges after every show what they liked and what they didn`t like about me and all that helped me to get better when preparing for my next show.
My next show was BNBF British finals and I knew that Sandor ( Alex ) was also competing there just in different class division ( I believe in Novice class ). After arriving Glasgow, Scotland and check in in our hotel we had to go for polygraph testing. But after that we spent some time together talking about training, nutrition and some posing strategy for the show.
There were eight finalist in my class U-78kg, all class winners or 2nd places from the qualifiers through the year. I didn`t make top five and was very disappointing. The guy who won looked good but by far he should not win that evening. I spoke to few more people in the audience and they all agreed with my opinion. At that moment I decided that this will be my last show with BNBF.
Alex won his Novice class and the overall if I remember and got a huge trophy. He was over the moon. What a great night for him. After this disappointment I was more than determined to do well in my next show. We had some after show party/food in Glasgow and I believe that all that extra food helped me look even better.
After this show I really wanted to compete at the next and last NPA qualifier Mike Williams Classic & Pro-Am but there was start of a new natural federation in UK. Mr. Lee Kemp, judge and doping controller decided to start new life chapter with UKDFBA. And without hesitation I entered. I knew Lee and couldn`t wait to compete there.
So my next show was UKDFBA ( United Kingdom drug free bodybuilding federation – what a name! ). I entered U-80kg class. While I was getting ready backstage, starting with my color and than pumping up, I could see that I looked much better than my previous show. I was big and full with veins everywhere. I thought, it must be all that extra food from Glasgow! There were six guys in my class and one of them Mark Oaks, guy who came back after one year off I believe, one of the best natural bodybuilders I believe. But I didn`t know him and I think that it was good for me. I gave my best and I believe that I gave Mark good battle for the first place. Only after the show I realized that it is him. And at that moment our friendship started. What a great and humble guy. He won and I came 2nd – again. But I had some really great comments especially from the judges Lee Kemp, Jon Harris, Mark Hesket, from Richard Gozdiecky who was there as a guest poser and even from Mark Oaks. What a great show.
I realized at that show that if you win here the overall you can earn your Pro Card. At that moment I plant the seed into my brain…. To win my Pro Card one day.
My next show was NPA Mike Williams Classic & Pro-Am. This show was very emotional as it is dedicated to one of the best British bodybuilder Mike Williams who died couple of years ago. At the beginning there was little video documentary about him and it made me cry. Michael Phillips, the guy who is behind the NPA and in my opinion one of the best promoters did very good job. I fell in love with this show and knew that I will come back one day. I finished…. yes, you guess it right. 2nd again. But at least I won the best presentation award and £50. I am not the greatest poser and it was always my weak point but because it was so emotional for me I put all that emotions into my posing and it worked. It was my last qualifier and I was happy with all that I`ve learned. What a year, what a journey. But there were one more show. NPA British finals in Bedworth, October 23rd.
My last show. NPA British Finals. They were eight competitors in my class U-78kg. What a line up. I remember Mark Oaks winning and Alexander Nagy, my good friend taking second. I finished 6th. I almost didn`t make it to the finals. Four weeks before finals I became very frustrated and decided not to compete any more this year. I just had enough. So I bought all that food and ate half of it already when my good friend Mezza called and said to me that I have to do it. He told me not to worry about all that food I ate just do extra cardio. After few moments I thought what the hell. I gave it my all, last push. I felt that I am not looking my best, I couldn`t get very good pump and I felt flat as hell. But it was another experience on my long journey and I am thankful for that.
I had an amazing year. Very long competitive year with 9 competitions. Experience that nobody will take it from me. Friendships that will last me lifetime and memories which no money can buy.
After this competitive year I decided to take at least year off before stepping on stage again. In the middle of my contest season this year I moved from Oxford to Birmingham and also had to change my gym where I trained. So from Oxford Unique Bodies Mike Sheridan gym I moved to Oldbury Deans Techno gym – one of the best hardcore gyms in UK. Dean was the owner – very humble guy, he helped me a lot and always encouraged me. The gym was not far from my place and I always cycled to gym, always, doesn`t matter what weather. And you know England…. But I loved it. It was my time where I could be grateful for all that I`ve had and for all that I`ve shall have.
My “off-season” has started but you all know that there in no such thing as the off-season if you wanna do well in competitions….
To be continued…