Considering that bodybuilding is centred on making yourself as big as possible, Choon Tan is at a rather severe disadvantage. At just 4ft 10in, he is Britain’s smallest bodybuilder – but has perhaps the largest personality in the business. The 21-year-old suffers from a genetic defect called x-linked spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia tarda which has impeded his growth.
However, that hasn’t stopped him from growing into a big name – both at his university in Northumbria and in the world of bodybuilding. Having suffered from depression due to his condition, bodybuilding is a way for Tan to express who he is and show what he’s capable of. As Tan puts it; “My main ambition is to inspire people to believe in themselves. And to know that they too can change their lives, no matter what the situation.”
In school, Tan was bullied because of his height. “Everything started to get to me and I just wanted it all to end,” he told the Metro. “I remember having this feeling every day and it was unbearable. I didn’t want to be smaller and feel more vulnerable than everyone else.” Tan is now both mentally and physically stronger and his Instagram page is home not only to pictures of his impressive physique, but also to some very wise words about overcoming adversity.
“Success comes in many forms. But my idea of success is progression and perseverance”
“You may feel the need to become good at everything or perfect at something”
“Don’t let it become an obsession, allow yourself to progress and enjoy the journey”
“Because you will never reach that ideal of perfection, you will always find something to improve on”