One word came to mind when bodybuilder Ek Khammountry was asked what it felt like to win the Men's Physique Novice category at the Australian Arnold Classic qualifier last month.
"Relief," he said. "I came second last year so it was a relief to win this year and know all the hard work had paid off."
The 33-year-old, who works as a personal trainer at Mounties’ Ignite Gym, said the state title is win No.1 on his body building resume.
But he is already eyeing off other titles - including the nationals in October which would open doors to turning professional.
"That would be life-changing. A dream come true to get my Pro Card and compete at events like Olympia in Las Vegas," he said.
But first comes hard work. A usual competition takes a 12-week preparation which culminates in a series of front and back poses for the judges to score on muscularity and body condition and stage presence and personality.
There is no quick fix. Competitors usually only compete in one or two shows a year such is the demand.
"You have to be accountable from the first moment you wake up to when you go to sleep. Everything has to be planned - meals, training and cardio. You have to be 100 per cent committed," the Green Valley resident said.
"I started doing shows in 2014 and caught the bug and now I just want to keep improving and inspire others to not give up."