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Belfast bodybuilder dies hours after competing in global contest

Bodybuilder Jim Henderson died in Malta of a suspected heart attack
Brendan Hughes

FAMILY and friends of a bodybuilder who died from a suspected heart attack while competing in Malta told of their shock yesterday at his sudden death.

Jim Henderson (54), a manager at Bombardier, is thought to have suffered a fatal heart attack on Sunday evening in his hotel room in the Dolmen, St Paul's Bay.

He had just returned from a meal with his daughter Nicole to celebrate Father's Day, having placed sixth in the world in the Masters Over-50 category.

His wife Kathy was on a flight home to Belfast when he died and yesterday made her way back to Malta with her cousin.

Mr Henderson had previously said the Malta contest would be his last because he wanted to spend more time to his family.

The south Belfast father-of-two, originally from Carrickfergus, competed in the National Amateur Body Building Association (Nabba) world championships on Saturday.

Posting a photo of himself with his trophy, he wrote on Facebook: "Just finished world championships in Malta, sixth in the world! Thanks to everyone who supported me!"

A Nabba NI spokesman expressed shock over the tragedy in a message on the group's Facebook page yesterday.

"It's with great sadness to share the news that Jim Henderson passed away this weekend," he said.

"Jim had just competed and placed sixth at the worlds. The news comes as a great shock to everyone and my thoughts and sincerest condolences are with his family and friends at this sad time."

Nabba NI representative Dave Warner (46), who lives in Ballymoney, described the death as a "terrible shock".

"He was a really nice guy and very popular. He had a lot of interests in his life and was into healthy living," he said.

It is thought a post mortem examination will be carried out in Malta.

Mr Henderson is survived by his wife Kathy, and children Nicole (18) and 16-year-old James.

The family yesterday paid tribute to him as a "loving husband and father".

"It is with unparalleled sadness that we have learned of the passing of James, a loving husband and father," they said in a statement.

"James passes away in Malta where he had been competing in the world body building championships, representing Northern Ireland.

"While we deal with this devastating news, we the Henderson family and wider family circle, would respectfully request we are given the appropriate time and privacy to do so."

Bombardier said Mr Henderson worked as a senior logistics agent in its supply chain.

"We are shocked and saddened by Jim's sudden death and our thoughts are with his family," a spokeswoman said.

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