BODY­BUILD­ING TEACH TAKES WORLD TI­TLES

Hat­ton­vale SS ed­u­ca­tor wins major cham­pi­onship

The Queensland Times - - SPORT - CAL­LUM DICK cal­lum.dick@qt.com.au

ON THE same day Hatton Vale State School teacher An­drew Pick­well was an­nounced coach of the Queens­land School­boys Under-12 rugby league team, he re­ceived an­other wel­come piece of news.

The 45-year-old phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher com­peted in and won the World Fit­ness Fed­er­a­tion (WFF) World Cham­pi­onships in Cyprus.

“I was ap­pointed Queens­land coach the same day I won my com­pe­ti­tion, so you could say it was a pretty good day for me,” Pick­well said.

For the 20-year body­build­ing com­peti­tor it was his first World Cham­pi­onship ti­tle, af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond in his only other ap­pear­ance at the 2014 it­er­a­tion on the Gold Coast.

Owner of a host of state and na­tional ti­tles, Pick­well said it was some­thing of a metaphor­i­cal weight off his shoul­ders af­ter break­ing through for his maiden World Cham­pi­onship crown.

“It has been a long time com­ing, and I never en­vi­sioned com­ing this far,” he said.

“I’ve won state and na­tional ti­tles on the way, but this is cer­tainly a step up from that. It was nice to get that recog­ni­tion.

“I did that other show in 2014, but to be hon­est the com­pe­ti­tion in Cyprus was pretty stiff in com­par­i­son so I con­sider this win to be even bet­ter.”

Pick­well un­der­went a dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion prior to com­pet­ing, di­et­ing for 18 weeks in or­der to hit the Cyprus stage at his most lean.

That in­cluded drop­ping a mas­sive eight kilo­grams in the fi­nal four weeks, in or­der to dip be­low the 80kg mark at weigh-in.

For Pick­well, the weight train­ing is the easy part – it is those fi­nal four weeks that hurt the most.

“I had to get under 80kg and the only time I did so was the morning of the weigh-in,” Pick­well said.

“I’ve al­ways en­joyed the weight train­ing side of things, but di­et­ing is also such a mas­sive part of it.

“You get back what you put in, there’s no hid­ing from it and I find that rewarding.

“If it was easy ev­ery­one could do it. You need to be dis­ci­plined and stick to it – it’s some­thing of a lifestyle.

“That’s the case for a lot of sports, but be­tween the train­ing and di­et­ing it’s with you the whole time.

“It’s the chal­lenge of it all and see­ing the re­sults that is the most rewarding.”

Pick­well jug­gled his com­pe­ti­tion prep with teach­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for 10 weeks, be­fore tak­ing long ser­vice leave in or­der to bet­ter fo­cus on peak­ing for the World Cham­pi­onships.

“Be­ing a pri­mary school teacher and work­ing with kids, I was aware I couldn’t let what I was do­ing af­fect my work,” Pick­well said.

“I don’t think I could have been teach­ing (dur­ing those four weeks). I was for­tu­nate to be able to take long ser­vice leave when I did.

“That’s an­other rea­son why I don’t com­pete year in and year out, but it just so hap­pened the win­dow opened up for me to do so this year.”

Hav­ing spent al­most half his life in the gym, Pick­well ad­mit­ted to be­ing oc­ca­sion­ally frus­trated with the non­cha­lance of peo­ple point­ing and claim­ing his physique is the re­sult of drug use and not hard work.

“I’ve been train­ing for over 20 years, and yet peo­ple al­ways like to say, ‘oh, he must be us­ing some­thing’,” Pick­well said.

“Some­times you take it as a com­pli­ment, since you must be look­ing pretty good for some­one to say that, but it’s also a bit in­sult­ing be­cause I’ve put a lot of time and ef­fort in over the years.

“Peo­ple seem to think there’s some kind of magic bul­let, but there isn’t.

“From the out­side look­ing in, peo­ple don’t re­alise there’s no easy way of do­ing things. It doesn’t just sud­denly hap­pen, but an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of the work you put in.”

Now he has reached the pin­na­cle of am­a­teur body­build­ing, Pick­well was awarded a pro card for win­ning his Performance class in Cyprus.

He then stood on stage as part of the pro­fes­sional cir­cuit, where he placed fifth over­all.

But the school teacher has no de­sire to utilise the pro card, ad­mit­ting age might fi­nally be start­ing to catch up with him.

“I haven’t got any­thing in mind for the near fu­ture,” Pick­well said.

“I’ll al­ways con­tinue to train be­cause I en­joy it, but I’m 45 now so the with the body and mount­ing in­juries and things it will be good to have a break.”

Pick­well’s at­ten­tion will now turn to an en­tirely dif­fer­ent sport, ahead of the Queens­land School­boys Under-12 rugby league cham­pi­onships.

Hav­ing coached Met West to four state ti­tles in his ten­ure, and a Queens­land In­vi­ta­tional side to third at this year’s na­tional cham­pi­onships, he is rel­ish­ing the op­por­tu­nity.

“I played a lit­tle bit of league as a kid, but I had a swim­ming back­ground orig­i­nally and coached swim­ming a fair bit at first,” Pick­well said.

“But when I started teach­ing it was hard to fit ev­ery­thing in.

“I got in­volved with ju­nior rep footy and got a taste for it. I’ve been coach­ing school­boy rugby league now for a good 16 or 17 years.”

You get back what you put in, there’s no hid­ing from it and I find that rewarding.

— An­drew Pick­well

PHOTOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

SHRED­DED: Hatton Vale State School teacher An­drew Pick­well (mid­dle), 45, was crowned WFF World Cham­pion in the Performance cat­e­gory at the re­cent World Cham­pi­onships in Cyprus.

An­drew Pick­well broke through for his maiden WFF World Cham­pi­onship win af­ter more than 20 years of train­ing.

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