Ashley O’Connell, age 21, was awarded ‘overall winner’ in the juniors category of the NAC UK Open British Bodybuilding Championships, staged at Middleton Arena in Manchester England.
This win qualifies O’Connell for the the NAC International Mr Universe competition, which will take place in Hamburg, Germany, and run from November 24 until November 26.
If Ashley is successful again, he could be selected to enter the 2018 World Championships in the Philippines next year. The young competitor has been training since the age of sixteen out of his local gym, Gym Unity, in Burton. His training has changed since sixteen though. He is now allowed to enter the gym at 4am every morning to complete his workouts. He balances the training with his work as a bricklayer for Bloor Homes.
Ashley told BurtonMail he received the motivation and confidence to compete from other gym-goers.
“I was told by loads of people that I should go for it. So after three months of dieting I did. I was crying, I was so emotional. I worked my socks off for it. The feedback they gave me is a big deal in bodybuilding. I could make a career out of this.”
After his recent win, Ashley was told by the judges that he has “something special” as it is “very rare” for a junior to win best overall in the competition. He said he is”very much” looking forward to the competition in Germany and hopes he can take win the prestigious title of Mr Universe.
The ‘Universe Championships,’ or ‘Mr Universe’ competition is an annual international bodybuilding event organized by the National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association. A junior class was introduced in 1988, discontinued between 1990 and ’99, but reintroduced in 2000. However, this class is only for contenders under the age of 21 and will be barred to Ashley. He will compete in the standard class against many great names. To win such a prestigious title so young would certainly be a surprise, but even without first place, the experience will certainly be one to remember for a promising young up and comer.