A UCC student is leading the way for young female bodybuilders after winning a prestigious UK contest.
Eva Roche, who is studying Irish and physical education at UCC, came first in the bikini category at the Physical Culture Association contest in the UK.
She is currently self-isolating at home following the trip but insists the extra safety measures have all been worth it.
The 21-year-old had played basketball for her county during her teens. However, the Glanmire native confessed that she felt disheartened by her progress.
"Before bodybuilding, it had always been about basketball," she said. "When I saw my progress stall I was frustrated. I peaked at a young age and felt I was moving down the ladder. My confidence had been shattered by basketball and was at an all-time low."
Eva developed a huge passion for the gym which eventually led to her bodybuilding passion.
"I needed something for myself but I wasn't sure what that was," she said. "I was training in the gym a lot for a photoshoot I was doing and was amazed by the results. I figured if I could do it for a photoshoot I could do it all the time."
It was at this point that Eva's bodybuilding journey began.
"It was hard to get my parents to come round to the idea at first," she said. "My dad had played basketball for Ireland so was really invested in the sport. It's hard to understand the concept of bodybuilding as.an outsider looking in but seeing how my dad's attitude changed has been amazing. He's no longer telling me it's about the basketball. Instead, he is telling me that what I'm doing is so important because I'm influencing young girls. Hearing my dad say that means more to me than anything. Nothing compares to that feeling."
A number of teen girls have been in contact with Eva after feeling inspired by the athlete.
"I am speechless by the great feedback I've been getting," she said. "It's been really nice. There are people that I genuinely couldn't have done this without. My poor mum suffered a lot. Preparing for a show can be physically and emotionally taxing. There were times when I was cranky but each day I came home she would offer to make my food and was very supportive."
Eva spent at least three hours a day perfecting her physique in preparation for the contest.
"I shocked myself. I never thought I would be capable of achieving what I did. There were people who asked me why I bothered with all this work when it was just for one show. That was frustrating to hear but it's all really paid off. It was by no means a walk in the park but when my name was called out it all seemed worth it."
Eva said she owes a great deal to her coach Mike Geary.
"He has advised me on every aspect of my diet and training for the last 19 weeks and was there for me through the highs and lows of my prep. Also the gym I trained with, Motivated Fitness, had a huge role to play. They were the most supportive group of people I've ever met."