For some odd reason Michelle Middleton had many nicknames as a child.
When SportToday asked her why, Middleton (nee Gannaway) wasn't much wiser after all those years. What she could shed light on, though, was that some nicknames pertaining to her physique, such as Snap, Abb and Bones - stuck.
"I was a very sinewy and lean person so I must have inherited it from my family," she said, not long after winning the Ms Hawke's Bay Figure overall category title at the Napier Municipal Theatre on Saturday night while competing in the National Amateur Body Builders' Association (Nabba)-organised Hawke's Bay Bodybuilding Championship.
Her father, Laurie Gannaway, was a Bay age-group and senior amateur and professional boxing champion in the 1940s and also a mile runner and rugby player.
Middleton followed in her dad's footsteps, showing talent at St Patrick's School when she won the sprinting title for four years in a row and broke the record for long jump. On February 26 this year, the 41-year-old mother of three was runner-up in the 40-plus veteran women's 13km event of the Kaweka Challenge (Highest Mountain in New Zealand).
"I aim to win that next year," said Middleton , who runs all year round on Napier Hill and does weights at the Sparta Gym.
"People think I'm a bit of a freak because I don't use any programmes. I just go to the gym, jump on any machine and I don't do food supplements. I just eat really good food such as chicken, vegies, avocado, nuts, seeds and porridge."
While Nabba does have a policy of not checking competitors for drug use, Middleton said her balanced workout with good diet and family life were adequate.
"I believe if you can't do something naturally then don't do it at all. I'm 100 per cent natural."
Her foray into bodybuilding began by accident two years ago when she filled out a competition form at a Napier gift shop and was surprised to receive a phone call to inform her she had won six months' free membership at Sparta.
There an instructor, El Bardi, who has returned to his home in Morocco, showed her a DVD on bodybuilding.
"My husband (Ron) said he could see me up there on the stage and I said 'no way'."
After some research she started working out and fellow gym goers began remarking on her muscular physique. Middleton, who won the 2007 Ms BOP overall title in April and the Open Figure Tall Champion title in Auckland in May was asked to represent New Zealand in Greece on June 16. "I had one months' notice and couldn't come up with $5000 but I was privileged to be chosen," said Middleton, who is now preparing for a pro-am event in Manawatu after a Nabba invitation to compete for a $1000 purse.
Andrew Murray, of Napier, took the Mr Hawke's Bay Athletic Men's title, while fellow Napier bodybuilder Sue Swannell was crowned Ms Hawke's Bay Shape.
The Steve Miller Memorial Top Gym Challenge Trophy went to Starr Fitness Gym, in Napier