TOWNSEND bodybuilder Brad Clarke is on to top of the world after winning the Australian Musclemania masters title, but his struggle to get there has been tougher than many realise.
The Australian title has been close to 30 years in the making for Clarke, also known in competition circles as 'The Shredded Badger', who started competing in bodybuilding in 1988 at the age of 18.
For the past two years the health and fitness coach and trainer, who works out of Body Rock Gym at Townsend, has been runner-up in the category.
"I felt like this was my year, but to finally get the Australian title is a bit of a dream," he said.
"I've always been the coach - the one that preps other people - but this year I employed the services of trainer Michael Waddington, who prepped me over the last 24 weeks for the title."
Focusing on his own preparation this year also helped him back up the Musclemania win with a Queensland title in the Australian Natural Body Building Championships the following day.
Last weekend, he took home a third place in the open short class at the INBA Queensland State Titles; the cherry on top of the metaphoric cake.
Mr Clarke's success in competition this year is proof of the turnaround the body builder has undergone since he was misdiagnosed with low grade lymphoma after falling ill in 2006.
It was six months before doctors told him he actually had sarcoidosis, a disease which mimics the symptoms of lymphoma and can be chronic.
From then on he was in and out of hospital for five years, seeing up to five different specialists a week and undergoing a dozen operations.
At one stage he was taking 15 different medications each day.
"It hasn't been an easy ride," he said. "I was told three times to get my will out."
In 2012, however, surprised doctors gave him the all-clear.
Mr Clarke said the key was going back to doing what he loved.
"About four years ago I walked into Body Rock as a very unhealthy individual, and turned my life around completely through proper nutrition and being in the fitness industry and backing it up 110%," he said. "I just turned the whole thing around and came out on top."
Mr Clarke's health battle is something he kept close to his chest, but he said he felt he needed to share it in the hope it would inspired someone else. His plan is to keep going until he physically can't.
Mr Clarke will travel to Las Vegas for the Musclemania World Masters in November.
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