September 28, 2020

BY KEILA MACPHERSON

Conestoga College student Derek Rafla had a hat trick this weekend, but not in a traditional sport such as hockey or soccer.

Rafla won first-place trophies in the junior men’s bodybuilding, light heavyweight and overall men’s bodybuilding categories at the 2012 GNC Ontario Natural Bodybuilding Championship, held at Mohawk College’s McIntyre Theatre on Sept. 22.

Rafla came in first place in his weight class and in overall men’s bodybuilding at the Henderson Thorne Classic last year and he was a guest poser at the same competition on July 7 in Ancaster.

When he performed his routine near the beginning of the Sept. 22 show in the junior (23 years and under) category, Rafla won the crowd over by encouraging cheers and enthusiasm.

“I pulled that routine off the top of my head,” Rafla said.

Still, the crowd went wild each time he came onto the stage.

When the time came to announce the overall bodybuilder title, the crowd was on the edge of their seats in anticipation. Some were shouting Rafla’s competitor number, “One thirty-two! One thirty-two!” and “Go Derek!”

When Rafla was announced as the winner, the theatre erupted into applause, cheers and hollers. “We Are the Champions by Queen played as Rafla received his trophy.

After 15 weeks of a strict diet and training regiment, Rafla said it was the best feeling.

“There’s no other way to say it: serious euphoria,” he said.

He started working out full time to become a bodybuilder after he was injured while on the power lifting team at his high school, Centennial Collegiate Vocational Institute in Guelph, when he was 17. After the injury, Rafla said he wanted to keep up his strict diet and exercise regiment, and that’s when he was introduced to bodybuilding.

Natural bodybuilding is bodybuilding without the use of drugs or steroids. Competitors are tested by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), the same organization that tests Ontario’s Olympic athletes.

Gary Aguto and Mike McCready, both bodybuilders and current trainers at Stayfit True 24/7 Gym in Guelph, coached Rafla on posing for competitions and helped him with his diet.

McCready said all of the hard work that Rafla put into training showed on stage.

“He definitely has the ability to become a pro bodybuilder if that’s what he wants to do,” said McCready.

Rafla is in his third year of the accounting and audit information technology business program at Conestoga.

He said balancing school and training means his life is very scheduled and he lives by strict regiments.

“It spills into all aspects of my life. When I’m focused on that it helps me have a really regimented kind of life. Everything will be scheduled out, like school and homework. I’m always doing something progressive and it keeps me positive. I love it,” Rafla said