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In the News - Stephen Burke

A 22-year-old bodybuilding champion, Stephen Burke is coming to the end of his PGCE in secondary business. Since March he has been on teaching practice at St Wilfrid's Catholic High School in Litherland. This month he has been invited to Germany to perform in the country's national bodybuilding championships.

Bet the kids don't mess with you ...

"The kids aren't intimidated," says Mr Burke. "In the day, I look like a normal guy with my shirt and tie on. It's only when I go on stage that I look different. I like to put across to the kids that I'm a good clean guy and that I refuse to use performance-enhancing drugs and steroids."

They must be fascinated?

"They're always interested in it. I have always been sporty, so I have got to know them from helping out in football and other activities. The school has a gym, so those that have shown an interest in what I do have gone to the gym and I've always offered my services and advice."

What got you going?

"I started five years ago and have been competing professionally for three years. I used it to draw my focus and discipline myself in a good way. I started when I was in the sixth form when I saw people hanging around with bad crowds. I thought, 'How can I pull myself away from that?' It helped me channel my energy throughout my exams."

Any titles?

"I am the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation under-23 National British Champion. I also got the Junior Mr International Champion for under-21s. I've always had the desire to be the best I can. I always reach the top, and I don't just mean in bodybuilding, I mean in teaching too."

Obvious question: what's your goal?

"To be the British Champion and then World Champion. I'm not scared to make sacrifices. I'll do what it takes, as long as it's natural and free from drugs."

Sounds gruelling ...

"There are two or three competitions a year. With each one I have to go on a 12-week diet. I train five days a week, an hour to an hour and a half a day. That means getting up at 5am to train and then go to school and do planning, but it's got to be done. I'm used to that lifestyle from my uni days."

Hogan fan?

"It has to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's gone from bodybuilder, through the academic route to films, and is now a politician. In reality, my role models are those who have been in difficult situations and managed to prevail."

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