Breaking down barriers to bodybuilding

Published on 16 Jun 2017

The 18-year-old job seeker recently became the first person with Down syndrome to enter the national Townsville Tropix Classic bodybuilding competition.

Rhys, is working with our Disability Employment Services consultants in the town to find a job in garden maintenance so he can stay fit and active while working.

To find out more about how APM helps fantastic people like Rhys, visit our Employment Services page, including how we can help employers find the right job seeker for their vacancy.

The Townsville Bulletin reports...

No barriers for North Queensland body builder

RHYS Payne has proved there are no barriers and no excuses to getting ripped and getting up on stage to flaunt it.

The 18-year-old Cairns local made his bodybuilding debut in Townsville last week, as the first Australian entrant with Down syndrome to ever enter the national competition – taking out the teenage disabled division of the ICN Townsville Tropics Classic.

The extroverted Edge Hill resident stole the show as a “natural poser” performing a 45 second routine in front of 400 people to Queen’s hit We Will Rock You that included biceps kisses and landing the splits – his performance going viral on social media with 30,000 views.

“My mum was crying and I was crying when I won, because I wanted to win a competition my whole life. I did it, I was a star and I showed off my big muscles,” he said.

Rhys now carries his winning medal with him everywhere, even sleeping with it.

The avid Home and Away fan hopes his new muscular physique will win him a role as one of the show’s ripped River Boys.

ARC Disability Services carer Dave McNally has promised to help Rhys film a video audition to send to the series’ producers – he believes nothing can stop the teen who started training six months ago at 80kg and lost an incredible 12kg after seeing posters for the North Queensland event at his local gym.

“I’m not a personal trainer but he spent two to three hours doing weights each day, plus alternate between boxing sessions and hill walks for cardio,” Mr McNally said.

“He cut all chocolate, soft drinks and sauces. All he ate was kangaroo meat, green veggies and fried eggs, showing incredible willpower. He became absolutely ripped.”

Mr McNally said the strict regimen also transformed some of the teen’s challenging behaviours because the competition gave him discipline and focus to channel his energy.

ICN Townsville Tropics Classic director Scott Piper, who organised Rhys a personal performance, custom check-in, backstage passes, free spray tanning and posing practice, said the teen was an inspiration as the first ever entrant with the genetic disorder that causes physical and intellectual disability.

“He had personality plus. Everyone wanted a photo with him. He couldn’t stop showing off, all flexing his muscles, and when he took to the stage he was on fire,” he said.

“He’s proof there are no barriers, there are no excuses.

“He had a dream and a goal to get in shape and on stage which he smashed and he’s in incredible shape, proving anyone can do it.”

Photo: Townsville Bulletin. See full article and video here.