A WORLD-RENOWNED bodybuilding competition brought hundreds of enthusiasts from 28 countries to Bradford for the first time at the weekend.

Mr and Miss Universe pits the finest bodybuilders against each other with famous faces such as Arnold Schwarzenegger gracing the stage in the event's 71-year history.

More than 200 elite athletes showed off their hard-earned muscle at St George's Hall, hosted by the National Amateur Body Builders' Association (NABBA).

But for Paul Jefferies, stage manager and North East representative for NABBA, it was a more nostalgic affair.

Bodybuilding long-held a place in Bradford's history with many championships held at the theatre more than 20 years ago.

Paul, who lives in Odsal, made it his mission to bring the sport back to the city after the building was uplifted with the £9.5 million restoration project.

And it was such a success that he hopes to book the venue again next year.

The stage manager said: "It’s bringing back memories. I used to run them here and the roof fell in. I’m a proud Bradfordian. I’m a Yorkshire man first and an Englishman second.

"We’re trying to give it that little bit of 'wow'.

"This is the best part of Bradford. We’ve got a multi million pound shopping centre, we’ve got Centenary Square, we’ve got the museum, if you want food you don’t have far to go. I’m proud to have it here."

The competition was attended by anyone from life-long fanatics to families with young children while others yelled messages of support to those on stage.

Paul, who often brings his grandchildren to the events he organises, said: "We call it a family show. These young kids could be future fitness gurus and we encourage them to come. It’s something different. It’s not something you see all the time.

"The main thing is bodybuilding. It’s upstairs focus. It’s not body beautiful, it’s more perfection."

Bodybuilder Mark Webster from Wakefield came to support a friend while one family from Southhampton brought their two young children along to introduce them to this sporting world.

Paul Thomson, known as Mr Britain in the over 40s category and third in the NABBA world championship, said this was the first time he's been to Bradford for an event of this kind.

Explaining how only one in 15 actually become a bodybuilder, he said: "In our game, pain is our friend. Any body builder will relate. You learn a lot about yourself. If you can do this you can near enough accomplish anything. It takes a certain character of person to do this sport."