A Northampton gym owner has brought home an international bodybuilding award after sweeping to victory at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival.
Kamal Elgargni, 46, shook hands with Arnie himself after claiming the Arnold Classic 212 trophy on Monday (March 3), facing down competition from Dubai and America.
Yesterday, at a homecoming party at his gym, Better Bodies, off Barrack Road, Kamal presented his trophy to the applause of his family, friends and customers.
He said: "It has been a long journey. I put in 100 per cent to get here and that hard work has paid off. I can't believe it.
"It took me five years just to get my professional licence. This was a bigger achievement for me as it was my first professional show. To come out of nowhere and win it for my town, it just doesn't happen."
The Arnold Classic 212, which was also Kamal's professional debut, is a bodybuilding award as part of the Arnold Sports Festival, which has run since 1989.
Kamal accepted the award and a cheque for $22,000 on stage from Arnold Schwarzenegger himself at the contest in Columbus, Ohio.
Kamal said: "Arnold told me afterwards the physique I had was like the bodybuilders from the 80s, when bodybuilding was an art. He told me I was just what they were looking for. He was so happy that a newcomer could just come to his show and win.
Kamal said: "I want to thank my family, especially my wife who has supported me and done as much hard work as I have. Also my coach Chris and everybody here at Better Bodies gym who have supported me in my training."
The award automatically qualifies him for the Mr Olympia bodybuilding contest in Las Vegas this September.