THE exceptional 12 months in the sporting arena for Tapitallee's Dale Bryce has continued at the recent ICN [I Compete Naturally] City Nationals.
After claiming three medals at November's state titles, Bryce guided his Shoalhaven Eclipse Taekwondo team to 15 podium finishes in April.
The 41-year-old then secured one gold, one bronze and two fifth-place finishes at the Western Sydney-based body-building event.
"I'm stoked with my result of sixth overall at nationals," Bryce said.
"Taking out my age category was a great feeling and it's humbling to be able to add another national title in another sport after my long and decorated career in Taekwondo - a sport I've had the opportunity to claim many state, national and international titles over the past 20 years."
With Bryce's last body-building event, in season B, being held on December 5, he has used to past six months to prepare himself for back-to-back campaigns, so he could compete in season A.
"I start my preparation for nationals on January 1, so it has been a solid 18 weeks of strict dieting, plus training twice a day with cardio and weights training to get to the stage," Bryce, who did all this while balancing work at his two businesses Premier Genetics and Eclipse Taekwondo, said.
"I competed at the Season B nationals last year however I didn't make top six and was just out of the medals at that event.
"I pushed really hard in the last five months and left no stone unturned with my competition preparation to get on stage for the national titles.
"My coach Keith Graham and I couldn't be happier with the result - it's the best I've looked on stage yet and that's what this sport is all about.
"Trying to better yourself each time you step on stage with gradual progression aiming for a better result with each event."
Making the achievement even more incredible for Bryce, who qualified for the nationals by finishing in the top five at April's Sydney Super Bodies at West HQ, is his incredible journey.
"My body-building career has quite the motivational back story, having started working with my coach initially to help rebuild muscle following failed bilateral hip replacement surgery and a string of other surgeries that followed on from this," he said.
"This was an extremely dark time of my life where I was struggling just to walk and it was hard just to do day to day activities let alone elite level sport that I had been involved in most of my life.
"Throughout this time, I had to close my beloved Taekwondo school (which was since re-opened last July) and focus on my health and rebuilding my body literally from the ground up.
"So this recent success at the national titles holds more meaning than I can express and is extremely sweet, as I know how hard I have had to push over the last few years to get to where I am today.
"Standing on stage with that national championship gold medal around my neck was an amazing feeling and a far cry from laying in those hospital beds, wondering how I was ever going to walk again, let alone get back to elite sport.
"I am so thankful for this journey through with my amazing family around me and a multitude of people that have helped and supported me to get me back on my feet and to where I am today.
"It has taught me so much and the value of that martial artist indomitable spirit and never give up attitude regardless of the circumstances, which Tim Parkes and I now instil into our students at Eclipse, as we try to develop the next generation of champions in the sport."
Following this emotional result, Bryce has taken a break from his rigorous training and diet, before turning his attentions to the state Taekwondo selections, before October's national titles and November's Pan Pacific Masters Games at the Gold Coast.
Following this, he will re-evaluate where his body is at before diving into another tough body-building preparation.
"The body-building game is a long process, so for now I am focusing on building muscle over the next 12 to 18 months," he said.
"It is hard to build lean muscle, especially while in a calorie deficit during competition preparation, which is normally around a six-month process of strict dieting in a calorie deficit to get to the stage.
"I'll most likely roll the dice again in 2023 provided I can build more muscle in that time, so it's important to stay consistent with my food and weight training in the so-called off-season."
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