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.
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.
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.
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 ?
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 ?….
Where do you train and why choose this gym out of all the gyms around ?…
If you could look like any bodybuilder on the scene today who would it be ?…
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.