Grangemouth’s Jim (70) is world champion bodybuilder

Jim Bennie (70) only began natural bodybuilding two years ago. Picture: Michael Gillen
Jim Bennie (70) only began natural bodybuilding two years ago. Picture: Michael Gillen

Most sportsmen aged 70 enjoy pursuing traditional pastimes like lawn bowls - but for Jim Bennie, the time was right to become a world champion bodybuilder.

The Grangemouth grandad has enjoyed a stellar sporting career as a champion swimmer and road cyclist, and even competed for Scotland as a gymnast at the 1969 World Games in Switzerland.

But two years ago he decided to try his hand at a new - and rather different - discipline.

Jim, a regular at The Tone Zone fitness club in York Arcade, was asked by gym coach Ross Campbell if he fancied giving bodybuilding a try.

“It’s not something I had ever thought of until then,” he explained. “But I thought, at my time of life, why not?”

Jim, who in his working life ran a well-known plumbing and bathroom firm, soon began weight training five nights a week under the supervision of coach Wendy Abbott.

He also travelled to Perth’s Body Academy - the Mecca of Scottish bodybuilders - for additional expert coaching from Mary Anderson.

“When you get a bit of muscle definition, you want more and more. It’s very addictive,” he added.

This wasn’t just training for the sake of it, however. He already had one eye on entering bodybuilding competitions, and such was his dedication to doing the best he possibly could in his new discipline, he began attending tap dance classes in Falkirk and Larbert on the two nights a week he wasn’t working out in The Tone Zone.

“Tap dancing is very good for your legs, and for your balance. It’s also great fun.”

Jim’s dedication paid off. His first big event was in September at the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation championships in Manchester, where he took second place in the 70-and-over category.

That was an achievement in itself, but Jim was determined to go one better when he travelled to Miami last month to compete in the natural bodybuilding world championships.

“Bodybuilders are scored by a panel of eight judges. You’re scored on symmetry, muscularity and a one minute routine in which you show off your muscles.”

They must have liked what they saw as Jim beat off competitors from 11 other countries to be crowned the over-70s world champion.

Jim now hopes to defend his title next year and continues to train regularly at The Tone Zone, where he receives support from staff and fellow bodybuilding enthusiasts.

“They’ve been a massive help, and I can’t thank them enough.”

Not everyone is impressed by Jim’s new found glory as a bodybuilder, however.

He admits that his wife of 48 years, Rena, thinks that he’s “daft”.