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Building muscle brings capital gains for pair of city bodybuilders

Published on

Jake Romphf

Two Sarnia bodybuilders aren’t letting age stop them from pumping out success.

Maria Mikola, 50, has qualified to compete at the world championships in Phoenix, Arizona in September.

And Bernie Mockler, 55, last month won the Canadian bodybuilding national championships in the Masters (aged 50 and up) category.

Mikola and Mockler have trained together since 2008, and Mikola has coached Mockler at some competitions. In 2014 they won a national title together in the mixed pairs category.

Last year, Mikola placed 14th at the world championships.

“My goal this year is to be top ten,” she said. “I’m in a lot better place than I was last year.”

She placed second at three different international competitions this summer and is doing an extra show before the worlds.

“I have to stay on track a lot more,” she said.

Mikola, who has lived in Sarnia about 35 years, was a gymnast but suffered a knee injury her final year of high school. The six months of rehab introduced her to weightlifting.

She moved to the U.S. for a few years and took up windsurfing, but continued using weights over the winter to stay in shape.

She’s competed in more than 50 competitions since 1997 and earned her pro card with the International Federation of Bodybuilding – the world’s most prestigious – in 2013.

Her gymnastic training can still be seen in some posing routines.

“It’s a subjective sport, so it all comes down to what the judges are looking for,” she said.

Mockler, the new Canadian Masters champ, has also lived in Sarnia most of his life.

He started lifting weights at home in the early ‘80s to get better at rugby and wrestling.

“Even though (bodybuilding) wasn’t cool at the time, I didn’t care,” he said.

Mockler competed in his twenties and then took a 17-year break from the sport.

At the age of 45 he quit a time-consuming management job to return to what he loves.

“I really just wanted to win a show.”

Under Mikola’s training, Mockler said he was competing at a top level in just a year. He won a provincial title and had several strong finishes at North American competitions, but a Canadian championship had always eluded him – placing fifth, fourth, third, and second.

“I was vying for a title at the national level for 10 straight years, so it was a huge relief to finally win,” he said.

With the victory, Mockler said he’s done competing at the national level. But he will continue bodybuilding and would consider entering a North America championship, he said.

“It keeps me very young.”



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