Bodybuilder achieves professional dream in just six days
Six days before he stood on stage alongside some of the world's best, Christchurch bodybuilder Steve Orton accomplished his dream of turning professional.
It took Orton 14 weeks of intense preparation for the NZIFBB PRO:AM Championships, which is the only New Zealand show that can hand out pro cards once a year.
He was invited as a late entrant in the open weight class of the Arnold Classic Australia Pro Men's Bodybuilding in Melbourne on March 18 and 19.
The 26-year-old placed sixth of the eight competitors.
"Overall I felt I placed probably where I should have on a scale of coming out of amateur to a pro. [I] hadn't even set my name in stone yet in the pro ranks," he said.
"I would've liked to have placed one or two places ahead, but it's just the way it rolls sometimes."
Orton performed what he considers to be his favourite posing routine, and his own trademark pose which involves him slightly crouched looking down at his clenched right arm with his left arm pointing to the sky.
As the only active New Zealand heavyweight pro, Orton was proud to have been the sole Kiwi representative in his class.
He has his eyes set on a couple of pro shows in November in Europe and the USA, in build up to entering the Arnold Classic Australia again next year.
Originally from Timaru, the former Christchurch Boys' High School First XV rugby player was crowned National Amateur Bodybuilders' Association world champion in Italy in June 2013.
Orton's international career was in tatters when he appeared for sentencing on drugs charges in August 2014.
He sought discharge without conviction, but was convicted of drug importation and sentenced to seven months home detention and 150 hours of community work.
"It's all behind me, we all make mistakes," he said on the matter.
"I aim to be a great ambassador and role model for the sport."
Orton is now a personal trainer, coach and mentor in his studio Ox Training Facility.
He typically works split shifts as his own regime involves cardio before work in the morning and weight training in the afternoon before returning to work.
He consumes six to seven "whole food meals" evenly throughout the day on a two-to-three hour schedule.