Ray’s journey from tragic loss to personal best

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An award winning Derry body builder has revealed how he used a family tragedy to spur him to success.

Following the death of his grandfather, Ray McDaid rediscovered both the joy in his life and his best ever physical fitness, thanks to bodybuilding.

The Rosemount man this weekend won second place medals in not one but two bodybuilding competitions. Contesting the Mr. World Class two sections in both the National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association (NABBA) and the World Amateur Body Building Association competitions (WABBA) he brought two medals home.

Touchingly the competitions were held just before his grandfather’s first anniversary, which is today.

Ray and his family cared for his grandfather, popular Derry man and Bloody Sunday Justice Campaigner John Duddy, during the last weeks of his life. It was in memory of him that he was determined to succeed.

Yesterday Ray visited his grandfather’s grave and dedicated his success to him. Ray’s mother, Brigid is unaware of his touching tribute - and will only find out when she reads the Journal this monring.

Mrs. McDaid attended the Derry NABBA competition on Sunday, as did his siblings; “It was the first time they have seen me on stage. I was delighted with my performance. Mammy even got a t-shirt with ‘Who’s the Mammy?’ printed.”

Ray has competed in bodybuilding before but left the gym in 2007. After the death of his grandfather he showed his three children, Joshua, Joseph and Erin a DVD of him competing. “They were so excited and it gave me a lift so I thought I would do it for them. As I was training I thought of my granddad, then when the dates of the competitions came out I knew he was looking after me.

“He is never far away.”

Ray has been adhering to a strict diet since Christmas, “Easter was a very tough weekend,” he smiled. “My only treat during the diet was a sports massage at the Tech on a Thursday night.”

He has also been running the steps from Fahan Street to the City Walls for an hour every morning at 6am.

“I dropped three and a half stone in order to get into this shape. I touched my granddads cross before I went out. People must have thought I was mad because there were mornings the tears were tripping me thinking about him as I was running.

“I want to dedicate these medals to his memory, he was a massive influence on me.”

The touching sentiment was so personal to Ray that he felt unable to tell his partner, Sharon.

“I had to send her a text, from upstairs,” he said.

“She has been so supportive of me. I’ve been training long hours but she has been amazing, it has brought us even closer together.

“I must thank Dave Hill of ProGym also. He has got me into the best shape of my life. I caught my reflection two weeks ago and didn’t recognise myself, my sponsors Terry page of Taxi Co and Paul’s Butchers have all been great.

“To be able to turn something so negative into a positive has been a big help to me.”