BALLYMONEY bodybuilder Steve Graham returned home last week having rubbed shoulders with Hollywood legends Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.
The current European champion spent time in the company of the two action heroes - as well as superstars in the bodybuilding world such as Ronnie Coleman - while taking part in the Arnolds in Ohio, Columbus.
Steve placed an impressive eighth in his category, a position he said he would have been delighted with prior to taking to the stage, and described the trip as “an experience of a lifetime”.
“I was delighted with how it turned out,” Steve told Times Sport.
“The event is invitation only with the likes of world champions, European champions, American champions, etc, taking part.
“There were 16 in my class and I Googled them before I went and there were five ex-world champions in it, and other guys who had placed second and third, so to be placed eighth was fantastic. I would definitely have taken that before I went.
“I thought I would have been further down the field when I looked at the competition.
“I said before I went as long as I’m not last but to place where I did was brilliant.
“It was the experience of a lifetime.
“There were over 500 athletes at it in different weight classes.”
Steve’s preparations were superb, weighing in at 0.1kg off the weight limit at 79.9kg, which is as close to perfect as you can possibly get.
And he got to rub shoulders with a number of leading lights in the bodybuilding world.
Steve attended a seminar with Terminator legend and current governor of California Arnie on the Sunday of the event and even got to put a question to him.
“We had a small seminar with him on Sunday and he was chatting away,” said Steve.
“It was very interesting I asked him how he thought bodybuilding and nutrition had changed since the 60s when he was competing.
“He really put bodybuilding on the map and you have to respect him for that.
“He was the one brought it to the fore.
“I met Stallone on the Friday night at a VIP event which was good and I saw Ronnie Coleman too and Mr Olympia Jake Cutler.
“I trained while I was over and got my photo taken with the winner of the Arnies, Branch Warren, who was huge!
“I competed at just under 13 stone and I’d say he was about 17 or 18 stone.”
Steve - who is backed by Complete Gyms - is back in action this weekend in the British Grand Prix with up to 360 bodybuilders due to take part.
They take place in London and are an unknown quantity to Steve as this will be his first foray into the event which is open to the top six competitors from 60 countries.
After that he plans to take a well-earned rest ahead of key competitions including world championships later in the year.