An accident 10 years ago forced Stephen Millar to relearn how to walk - now the Portadown-born father-of-two is hoping to become bodybuilding’s ‘Mr Universe’.
Stephen has devoted a lifetime to the pursuit of physical perfection and holds the record as the only man to achieve a clean sweep of ‘Mr NI’ titles across every divisions, resulting in a Lifetime Achievement award.
A 14-year run of progress within the field suffered a major setback when a fall for Stephen as he was walking his dog resulted in severe tendon damage to his left leg. Last summer he made a first-ever trip outside Ireland to compete in Italy at the ‘Mr World’ competition - capping years of recovery from the leg trauma with gold and, as a result, automatic qualification to ‘Mr Universe’.
“The accident left me in need of a plate and bolts to repair my leg and required years just to learn to walk again as normal,” said Stephen. “At the time I was working for BT but studying to become a personal trainer so used that injury as motivation to push towards the qualification.
“That knowledge helped me recuperate, even though the doctors basically said I may never walk again if I continued in bodybuilding.
“It was a long road back but the win in Italy made everything worthwhile and now I would love to win the ‘Mr Universe’ prize.
“I need hand surgery so missed last year’s ‘Mr Universe’ but the National Amateur Bodybuilding Association officials have offered me an open place at any future tournament.”
A history of heart problems in his family led to Stephen first working out with weights at 14 years old, turning competitive at 19 then returning to the over 40s’ Masters class.
“It has been part of my life for three decades now, with crucial support from my family, training colleagues like Andrew Dawson and George Dawson and sponsors at Shapeshift in Lurgan,” said the personal trainer at Lurgan’s Colombia Gym. “I fell in love with bodybuilding as a child watching Superman and now want that ‘Mr Universe’ title.”