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Posted 05 Aug 2001   For week ended July 27, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 25Jul01

By Mark Wright

RM Exercises Self-discipline, Wins in Body Building

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Whether or not you understand his obsession, you have to admire Nathaniel Hancock's single-minded focus on achieving his goal. This weekend, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hancock will try to win the Mr. USA bodybuilding competition, competing in the lightweight division. A returned missionary and an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hancock is trying to win a high-level competition in a sport where he is somewhat of a newcomer. Hancock has been participating in competitive bodybuilding for less than one year, winning the Mr. Utah competition on his first try in October of last year.

Not only is Hancock a relative novice in the sport of bodybuilding, he takes a somewhat unusual stance on the issue of using steroids and other banned muscle-enhancing drugs, eschewing them in favor of an approach that seems more moderate, at least when compared with the alternatives. Hancock has adopted a dietary regimen that would baffle and frighten most normal people and that would likely cost a small fortune if not for the sponsorship of Provo-based NuSkin, who provides him with meal replacement bars, dry soups, powdered protein and other drinks. According to Hancock, some of the products, "taste pretty good."

He goal in Las Vegas is to place at least third in his weight division, without turning to steroids or other illegal drugs that are common fare in the fast-paced world of competitive bodybuilding. "Everything about them tells me they are extremely wrong. First, they are against my belief in the Word of Wisdom and I would never feel right about winning if I got there by cheating or shortchanging my body." If Hancock loses, it will most likely be to a competitor who has built his body on the illicit substances that Hancock decries. "If I lose," he says, "I'll know I did it honestly. And I'm really more interested anyway in pushing my body and seeing what I can do against myself."

Known to his friends and family as a "disciplined" and "highly focused" individual, it seems as though Hancock tackles everything head-on, full bore. The first year he decided to take up running, Hancock entered and completed the St. George Marathon, his first ever, in only 2 hours and 47 minutes. Then, for the next two years, he competed in a 5K and 10K race almost every weekend. Hancock also took up soccer and helped his school win the state 1-A championship his junior year. Although his two year mission to Paris, France took him out of athletics for two years, it wasn't long after Hancock returned that he was back in shape and ready to find a new challenge. That's when he discovered the world of competitive bodybuilding, entering his first competition as a lark after being prompted by a friend to give it a try.

To enhance his preparation for the upcoming competition, Hancock has emptied his life and his body of almost all distractions and elements that might detract from his quest to achieve bodybuilding perfection. His bedroom is almost bare, containing only a few items other than a mattress on the floor and a few pictures on the wall. His intense journey and spartan diet have taken his 5-foot-7 1/2 frame down to 154 pounds, with negligible body fat in the last 12-weeks. He spends hours and hours each day at a local fitness center, putting his body and mind through a ritual that is hard to understand for those not involved in the sport. Even Hancock recognizes that his incredibly focused determination is just a little abnormal. "I've always been a freak about self-mastery and will power," he says.

However, after all is said and done, Hancock should not be thought of as a close-minded jock with a one-dimensional life. Even in the middle of his intense training schedule, Hancock attends Brigham Young University where he keeps a double major of French and business management. He also devotes time each day to reading and studying the LDS scriptures. However, right now, with the competition looming in just a few more days, Hancock mostly does what he seems to do best, focus on his goal and take one more step towards the prize.


Sunday Special: Clean and Cut
Salt Lake Tribune 22Jul01 S2
By Holly Mullen: Salt Lake Tribune


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