BYU student wins lightweight bodybuilding contest

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    By Matt Park

    The NPC Utah Cup and Fitness Expo, a national qualifying event, was held last weekend at Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City.

    The event featured fitness competitions and body building competitions for both men and women.

    The lightest of the five categories, up to 154 lbs, was dominated by BYU student Nathaniel Hancock.

    Hancock, 22, a French teaching major from Provo, said he wasn’t prepared for the outcome.

    “Winning first place was out of my wildest dreams. I was the lightest competitor there at 145 (lbs.),” he said.

    Winning first place in his division ensures that Hancock is eligible to move on to regionals as well as a chance to qualify for national competition.

    The world of bodybuilding is divided into two camps, untested and natural, and the Utah Cup is an untested event.

    At untested competitions, athletes are not tested for performance enhancing drugs such as steroids.

    The feat was even more impressive because Hancock was competing as a “natural” athlete, indicating he could have been at a slight disadvantage.

    “I think being natural was actually an advantage, I relied more on definition than mass,” Hancock said.

    Hancock said he had no idea what he was getting into when he started training for the Utah Cup competition.

    “It’s all about discipline, from your diet to the training. It’s really time consuming,” he said.

    The Men’s Open Novice featured the top five novice competitors.

    Each athlete had a chance for a series of individual poses, and then a final group “pose down” accompanied by thumping techno music.

    Hancock placed third in the Open Novice amid a chorus of boo’s from the crowd, apparently displeased from Hancock’s low placement.

    As for Hancock, he will be featured on the cover of Exercise and Health magazine this week.

    “I have to make some decisions. This sport takes a huge comitment in time and money to continue competing,” Hancock said.

    Ben Deray, 23, from Salt Lake, said this is the first bodybuilding show he had ever been to.

    “I think it’s awesome. It gets me pumped to get in shape and give me something to work for,” Deray said.

    J.D. Hutchison, 31, is the owner of Gold’s Gym locations in West Valley, Layton, Ogden and St. George.

    “I think that events like this are great for everyone, not just the bodybuilding crowd. It can inspire an average person in his or her own workouts,” he said.

    Hutchison said he was pleased that there were more natural competitors this year, because it gave an image of more attainable fitness.

    “A more natural look will get a casual lifter thinking about it, how they can work to get in the best shape of their life,” he said.

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