A CWMBRAN man who lost six stone after fending off his mental demons following a debilitating injury impressed judges at a bodybuilding competition for over-40s.

Darren Jones, 49, went from running and cycling “hundreds of miles a week to doing nothing” after injuring himself in an Ironman event in 2017.

“I ran about 100 metres and I heard a snap,” he said.

“I was in absolute agony, I actually crawled to one of the food stations to recover.”


Despite snapping a tendon in his ankle and rupturing his Achilles tendon, he went on to finish the marathon leg of the race. But the injury meant he couldn’t train or compete for two years – and, unable to exercise, he felt lost.

“I started to suffer really badly with depression, and I turned to drink," he said.

“I had gone from fitness freak to alcoholic.

“I was drinking way too much.”

After a year of struggling, he sought help from mental health charity Mind.

He said: “I thought, ‘I am not going to let this depression beat me’.

“They really helped me.”


At the time, Mr Jones was 18st, but, determined to get his life back on track, he decided to enter the United Kingdom Ultimate Physiques Masters over 40s competition – giving himself one year to get into shape.

“I wanted to show people that depression and anxiety can happen to absolutely anybody, but that you do not have to let it define you,” he said.

He lost weight and gained muscle naturally, monitoring the food he ate and refusing to turn to “magic pills”.

“The hardest thing about it was to build myself up with muscle when I needed to lose weight, because to build muscle you have to have a calorie surplus,” he said.

He said he was “taken aback” by the support he received after he announced he had placed sixth on social media, cutting his weight down to 12st.

Yet he said the “fresh perspective” he gained from experiencing depression and anxiety was more important than his impressive finish.

“It has really opened up a whole new world," he said.

“I am much more positive now and try to take absolutely everything in and live mindfully.”

He now hopes to inspire others from his example.

He said: “If I can just help one person just make that one change and feel like they can do something and have more confidence, that would be brilliant.”