Choon Tan: The 4ft 10 bodybuilding fresher who could tear you in two
He’s the smallest weightlifter in the UK
Choon Tan might be under 5ft tall, but he makes up for his height by being extremely hench and taking bodybuilding competitions by storm.
The 21-year-old Business Management fresher is Britain’s smallest bodybuilder, standing proudly at just 4ft 10.
Choon was born with a genetic defect, meaning his growth slowed down as a child – but turned to bodybuilding as something he could control.
He told The Tab: “I wanted to change the way I was and stop feeling small, so I made the decision to stop feeling sorry for myself.
“Everyone else is 6ft and I felt like I wanted to change my life.”
The stacked Northumbria fresher has being working out for four years, having started when he turned 16.
Choon said: “I go to the gym five times a week, and do each body part twice a week which is quite intense.
“I’m the smallest competing bodybuilder in the UK. I’m not sure if I’m the smallest in the world but that could be a possibility too.
“My best position in a competition is fourth and I’ve also got trophies for my conditioning too and posing too.”
The scientific name for Choon’s condition is X-linked spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia tarda, can cause pain and other physical complications.
He said: “Basically it stunts my growth and I can’t physically grow as tall as everyone else
“It caused me a lot of pain and when I was younger it could be quite severe.
“It did affect me at first when I was working out and I started to get bad pains from the condition.
“But then I used my knowledge of bodybuilding to rehabilitate myself, so now I rarely feel pain.”
The condition mostly affects Choon’s back, which means he can’t do squats or long-distance running.
But instead of missing out back exercises, he gets around this by doing leg presses.
It wasn’t just the physical issues of being short which affected Choon, but also affected how he saw himself.
Choon said: “Growing up with the condition was fine really, with not too much pain.
“But the real problem was when everyone started to grow up and I was a bit different.
“There was some bullying, but the main thing was me feeling insecure about it and caused quite a bit of depression.
“Two years down the line I started to feel more happy with myself.
“I do get quite a lot of respect at bodybuilding contests but most people just treat me equally as another person.”
Alongside his bodybuilding Choon also works as a promoter, putting on nights at Newcastle clubs Tiger Tiger and Perdu.
He said: “I don’t get to go out as much, but still every now and then.
“But I can go to the events after I finish work – sometimes sober, sometimes drunk.
“That’s once or twice a week at the moment, but it used to be three or four times a week.
“I’m quite a lightweight, so I’d just have three or four drinks.”
Choon admits he’s had much more success with girls since he started bodybuilding and transforming his body.
He said: “I’d say it’s more the confidence I get and being comfortable how I am.
“Bodybuilding showed me that I could actually control my life.
“When I started bodybuilding I found the control and realise I could change things.
“In terms of diet I have to resist stuff like fast food and pizza all the time.
“I mostly eat rice, sweet potatoes, chicken, turkey – a lot of vegetables.”
Choon is taking Christmas off from bodybuilding competitions, and is planning to set up a YouTube channel for his workouts and diet plans.
He said: “Starting going to the gym is the hardest part but once you start you realise you can do it.
“I like to inspire people, that’s my main ambition to help people change their lives.”