Mark Smith Disability Bodybuilder Muscletricks
Mark Smith Disability Bodybuilder Muscletricks

Here at muscletricks we hold the armed forces in high regard. Our forces put their life at risk every day they serve.

Mark Smith first came onto our radar via social networks when we saw him compete in the Phil Heath Classic in March of 2015. Mark is a great ambassador for disability bodybuilding and when he applied to be part of our site we simply had to help as much as we could. 

Hi Mark can you tell us a little something about your background ?

I served 10 years with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, between 2003-2013, serving in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jamaica, Falkland Islands, Kenya and Canada.

In 2011, whilst training to return to Afghanistan, I was shot several times in Canada whilst on a live firing range. The shots came through a wall and the back of me, hitting my right leg and right shoulder.
The rounds to my leg had hit my artery and so, if it wasn’t for the quick reactions and calmness of the lads around me, I wouldn’t be here, guaranteed. The injuries caused me to need resuscitating on no fewer than six occasions and the longest I was gone for was around 5 minutes.
Over the following few days, I was on life support and ended up having to have my right leg amputated above the knee.
Having been flown back to the UK, I then spent the next 10 weeks on the Military ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where I went through over 20 operations and my weight dropped to as low as 60kg.
On leaving hospital, I then went through two years rehabilitation at Headley Court, learning to walk and even run again.
Whilst there, I spent most my free time in the gym, determined to never look as ill or skinny as I did in Hospital.

muscletricks Gym Warrior Mark Smith
muscletricks Gym Warrior Mark Smith

 

Many would have struggled to move on from something like this, what kept you going?

I am a very stubborn, determined individual, who has thrived off moving the boundaries of what should and shouldn’t be possible. I was told I wouldn’t walk again…I did. I was told I wouldn’t run again…I did. I was told I’d never make it in the Army…I spent 10 years proudly serving.

If you want something enough, it’s yours, it just needs perseverance, commitment and desire. I have tried to channel each of my ‘shouldn’t’s’ into positives.

I became a qualified football coach, boxing coach and a personal trainer.
I was medically discharged in September 2013 and quickly found adjusting to being a civilian tougher than I had imagined.

 

Why bodybuilding?

I was in need of an adrenaline rush and then came across a story in May 2014 of a bodybuilding category for lads like myself, with disabilities but that could walk/stand on stage. I knew it was something I wanted to do, as I had been determined to remain physically active and the challenge excited me. I would love for our category to follow the lead taken by the wheelchair division, in becoming an IFBB Pro Division. I believe our category has real potential and that it will one day be able to grace the Olympia stage.

If you didn’t lose your leg what would you be doing now, would you still be on stage ?

Had I not lost my leg, I would probably never have even contemplated bodybuilding. It was always something I was interested in, but with my career in the Army going well, I would have been in for my 22 years and I think, with the time spent away, both training and on operations and with the food somewhat lacking in what’s required to be able to compete, I think it would have been difficult.

 

What shows have you competed in so far ?
Fast forward a year and I have competed in the following:
•PURE ELITE, Nov 2014, Placed 1st in Disability category.
•NPC PHIL HEATH CLASSIC, Mar 2015, Placed 1st in the Adaptive Division and also got invited on to stage to pose with Phil Heath himself!
•IBFA SAXON CLASSIC, Apr 2015, Didn’t place in the Novices.
•ATLAS OPEN, May 2015, Placed 1st in Disability category and 3rd in the Classics.
•HERCULES OLYMPIA, May 2015, Placed 1st in Disability category.
•IFBB PRO USN CLASSIC, May 2015, Guest posed at the Body Power Expo at the NEC.

 

What do you think about the current trend in using prep coaches ?….

I have personally found having someone with years of experience has helped me massively. To have that one voice of guidance and that one person to follow, as opposed to taking on every man and his dogs advice, has been invaluable.

 

Where do you train and why choose this gym out of all the gyms around ?…

 I train at Atlas Gym in Milton Keynes. From the moment I walked into this gym, I loved it, an old spit and saw dust gym, with plenty of lads that had or still do compete in bodybuilding. Rather than feeling intimidated, I felt inspired, to learn as much as I could from those in front of me and to attempt to reach a level even close to them.

 

If you could look like any bodybuilder on the scene today who would it be ?…

 

I think if I could look like any bodybuilder of today, I’d be happy, because I’d have two legs again!! Someone though that I do aspire to follow in the footsteps of, is Simon Robinson, also an amputee and someone I had the pleasure of meeting at the Hercules Olympia this year.
Who has been the most influential in your career up to date and why ?…
Outside of bodybuilding and in terms of finding a new path and staying positive, then 100% my wife and sons. I want to make new memories they can be proud of and not live in the past, I want to show them that life is about just cracking on, no matter what’s thrown at you.
Within Bodybuilding, I have had a lot of guidance from someone I have a lot of time and respect for, Mark Etherden, now running his own supplement shop in Hockliffe, but, he turned me from someone with little self belief to someone who was able to win disability classes. It has seemed there isn’t much that man doesn’t know, I could listen to his knowledge and experience of the sport all day. My biggest mistake in bodybuilding so far has to be not finding that balance between family life with my wife and children and my training/dieting. Before competing in Texas, it was the only thing on my mind from the moment my eyes opened until they closed and I’m lucky to have a very supportive wife, but, this sport is a choice, my own choice and I’ve been conscious of not allowing it to take over all our lives. It should be something we can all be proud of and enjoy, as opposed to resenting.
Social media, saint or sinner and why ?
 
I have personally reaped the positives that social media can offer, as it was through my stage photos going up on social media, that Lee Thompson, of the NPC, in Texas, was able to see my photos and invite me to compete in America.
It has also helped us as a new category, to reach out to thousands more people living with disabilities, who perhaps weren’t aware there is a category for them. It has helped to motivate individuals who maybe only saw the negatives to their injuries and disabilities and shown them what can be possible with the right mindset and belief.

We are working tirelessly to advertise the category and its rise has been quicker than we could have hoped-In 2014, there were two shows to include us and only 4 male competitors. This year, we have 19 shows we are a part of and some 13 male bodybuilders!
Our aim is to follow the wheelchair division in earning Pro status and I’m convinced with the right support, that will be realised sooner rather than later.

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