BODYBUILDER Andy North showed his determination to come back from a hip and knee replacement and remain one of the best in the business at the age of 54 after he was crowned a Mr Solent City champion.

Andy is probably best known locally for his work as a no-nonsense Pompey in the Community youth coach for Portsmouth Football Club and personal fitness trainer.

But Andy, of Wootton, a resident on the Isle of Wight since the long, hot summer of 1976, is also well known nationally in bodybuilding circles having achieved great success in the ‘sport’ for more than ten years.

He won his first event in 2008, as a first-timer at Solent City, Gosport — and that’s where he achieved his latest triumph, in the Mr Solent City Bodybuilding Championships 2019.

Andy, who came second in the British Bodybuilding Championship Finals in 2008 and 2011, in the over-40 age group, lost almost three stone in body fat in preparation for his recent competition, which he won in the over-50s class.

“I’m proud of myself for what I achieved,” said Andy.

“It was a gruelling thing to do — and I asked myself why I was doing it at times. One time I questioned myself, I almost gave it up.

“It takes a lot of mental toughness to do what I do and look like I do.

“I was rejected as a footballer by Pompey as a teenager. They told me to go away and build myself up. Those words stayed with me.”

Andy, who went through having a full knee replacement operation two years ago, followed by a full hip replacement last year, put the hard yards in down at the Bonchurch Powerlifting Gym and got his weight down to 9st 5lbs.

He added: “I could not have done it without some massive help from my team — Karl Tibbett, the mastermind behind my diet, Kerry and James Bexon, of the Urban Metro Gym, Ryde, and sports injury therapist, Jake Brougham, who helped me with my post-op rehabilitation.”