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Lawyer to be Mexico's first body builder at Pan Am Games

The sun hasn't even risen and the clang of metal is reverberating through a gym near Mexico City. On a frantic mission to sculpt his body, Carlos Suárez powers through another day of his heavy weight routine.

There is not much time left before Suárez will be the first Mexican to participate in the body-building competition at the Pan American Games, which begin July 26 in Peru.

Suárez starts his workout before dawn and spends six hours every day getting his body in peak shape for the games. Combined with his other work and family responsibilities, the workers' rights lawyer and law professor doesn't take many breaks.

In this June 9, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez trains for the upcoming Pan Am Games with Martha Elizabeth Sanchez, a former champion bodybuilder turned trainer, at the Mexican Olympic Committee facilities in Mexico City. Suarez and female fitness competitor Xyomara Valdivia will become the first Mexicans to represent their country in bodybuilding at the Pan Am Games, with this year marking the first time the discipline has been included as an official sport(AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

"It's tough but I think it's worth it for this dream," Suárez said during an interview at his home in Toluca, about 40 miles (63 kilometers) from Mexico's capital. "I have a big responsibility in being able to represent the country and I'm working hard to be able to finish with a good result."

This year's games mark the first time that bodybuilding is included as an official competition, after being a demonstration sport at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. For now, it's not included as part of the official competitions for the 2023 games in Chile, and it has yet to be included in the Olympics.

"It's going to be a historic moment for my sport ... It's something very beautiful, it will be a party for my sport," Suárez said.

In this June 6, 2019 photo, Carlos Suarez's parents, Rafael Suarez Reyes, left, and Alejandra Benhumea Gutierrez, right, along with his cousin Ana Paola Suarez, watch as he practices his bodybuilding poses as part of his daily training regimen ahead of the Pan Am Games, at the neighborhood gym owned by his parents in Toluca, Mexico. Suarez and female fitness competitor Xyomara Valdivia will become the first Mexicans to represent their country in bodybuilding at the Pan Am Games, with this year marking the first time the discipline has been included as an official sport(AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

Another Mexican, Xiomara Valdivia, will take part in this year's Pan American Games in the women's fitness category. Both she and Suárez receive basic support from the Mexican Federation of Bodybuilding, but they haven't gotten any government grants.

Without the financial backing that Mexican athletes in more popular sports receive, Suárez has had to juggle between long hours in the gym, the classroom and the courtroom.

"I appreciate how this sport has been a big part of my formation," he said. "I've learned to take advantage of life, which is a short, fleeting moment."

In this June 9, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez trains for the upcoming Pan Am Games at the Mexican Olympic Committee facilities in Mexico City. Suarez begins his weight-lifting session before dawn and spends a total of six hours every day getting his body in peak shape for the games. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

With bodybuilding excluded from the Olympics, it has been looked at as more of an aesthetic discipline than an organized sport, and many people have doubts about it.

When he was 13, he began to get into bodybuilding despite protest from his mother. "She didn't want me to do it because even then and still today the sport has been linked to steroid consumption and other myths," Suárez said.

In this July 14, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez is coated with spray tanner as he prepares to perform an exhibition routine as training to handle the pressure of competition at the Pan Am Games, during national bodybuilding championships, in which he was not competing, in Mexico City. Suárez booked his spot in the Pan American Games in November at a qualifying competition in Guatemala and said that he has been under an anti-doping protocol ever since. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this July 14, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez performs an exhibition routine as training to handle the pressure of competition at the Pan Am Games, during national bodybuilding championships, in which he was not competing, in Mexico City. For years, debate has raged over the exclusion of bodybuilding from the major international sporting events. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this July 14, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez eats lunch before performing an exhibition routine as training to handle the pressure of competition at the Pan Am Games, during national bodybuilding championships, in which he was not competing, in Mexico City. This year’s games mark the first time that bodybuilding is included as an official competition after being a demonstration sport at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this June 6, 2019 photo, Carlos Suarez practices his bodybuilding poses as part of his daily training regimen ahead of the Pan Am Games, at the neighborhood gym owned by his parents in Toluca, Mexico. “It’s going to be a historic moment for my sport...It’s something very beautiful, it will be a party for my sport,” Suárez said. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this July 14, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez, right, works out with a resistance band before performing an exhibition routine as training to handle the pressure of competition at the Pan Am Games, during national bodybuilding championships, in which he was not competing, in Mexico City. For years, debate has raged over the exclusion of bodybuilding from the major international sporting events. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this June 9, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez trains for the upcoming Pan Am Games with Martha Elizabeth Sanchez, a former champion bodybuilder turned trainer, at the Mexican Olympic Committee facilities in Mexico City. When he was 13, he began to get into bodybuilding despite protest from his mother. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell

In this June 6, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez does forearm curls as part of his daily training regimen ahead of the Pan Am Games, at the neighborhood gym owned by his parents in Toluca, Mexico. Suarez booked his spot in the Pan American Games in November at a qualifying competition in Guatemala and said that he has been under an anti-doping protocol ever since. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this July 14, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez is coated with spray tanner before performing an exhibition routine as training to handle the pressure of competition at the Pan Am Games, during national bodybuilding championships, in which he was not competing, in Mexico City. “I appreciate how this sport has been a big part of my formation,” he said. “I’ve learned to take advantage of life, which is a short, fleeting moment.” (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this June 6, 2019 photo, Carlos Suarez is seen past his bodybuilding medals and trophies as he stands inside the glass-encased office at the neighborhood gym owned by his parents where he trains for hours a day, in Toluca, Mexico. Without the financial backing that athletes from more popular sports receive, Suárez has had to juggle between long hours in the gym, study and work. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this June 6, 2019 photo, pictures of bodybuilders decorate the walls at the neighborhood gym, owned by his parents, where Carlos Suarez trains for hours a day to prepare to compete in bodybuilding at the upcoming Pan Am Games, in Toluca, Mexico. Suarez and female fitness competitor Xyomara Valdivia will become the first Mexicans to represent their country in bodybuilding at the Pan Am Games, with this year marking the first time the discipline has been included as an official sport. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this June 6, 2019 photo, Carlos Suarez practices his bodybuilding poses as part of his daily training regimen ahead of the Pan Am Games, at the neighborhood gym owned by his parents in Toluca, Mexico. Combined with his other work and family responsibilities, it’s hard to see where the workers’ rights lawyer and law professor ever takes a break. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this July 14, 2019 photo, Mexico's bodybuilding delegation to the upcoming Pan Am Games in Peru is presented during national bodybuilding championships in Mexico City. From right, are bodybuilding coach Maria Sandra Sanchez Sanchez, men's competitor Carlos Suarez, women's competitor Xyomara Valdivia, and technical official Arturo Castillo Cuevas. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this June 6, 2019 photo, Carlos Suarez gets dressed after practicing his bodybuilding poses as part of his daily training regimen ahead of the Pan Am Games, at the neighborhood gym owned by his parents in Toluca, Mexico. “It’s tough but I think it’s worth it for this dream,” Suárez said. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this June 8, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez practices poses for coaches as he trains for the upcoming Pan Am Games at the Mexican Olympic Committee facilities in Mexico City. “I have a big responsibility in being able to represent the country and I’m working hard to be able to finish with a good result.” (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this July 14, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez takes a selfie in front of a sign showing a picture of him and Xyomara Valdivia, Mexico's bodybuilders who who will compete in the upcoming Pan Am Games, hanging at the entrance to national bodybuilding championships in which the pair were not competing, in Mexico City. This year’s games mark the first time that bodybuilding is included as an official competition after being a demonstration sport at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this June 8, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez gets dressed after practicing poses as he trains for the upcoming Pan Am Games at the Mexican Olympic Committee facilities in Mexico City. “It’s going to be a historic moment for my sport...It’s something very beautiful, it will be a party for my sport,” Suarez said. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this June 6, 2019 photo, Carlos Suarez lifts weights as part of his daily training regimen ahead of the Pan Am Games, at the neighborhood gym owned by his parents in Toluca, Mexico. “I appreciate how this sport has been a big part of my formation,” he said. “I’ve learned to take advantage of life, which is a short, fleeting moment.” (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)

In this June 9, 2019 photo, Mexican bodybuilder Carlos Suarez practices his poses for coaching staff as he trains for the upcoming Pan Am Games at the Mexican Olympic Committee facilities in Mexico City. Suarez booked his spot in the Pan American Games in November at a qualifying competition in Guatemala and said that he has been under an anti-doping protocol ever since. (AP PhotoRebecca Blackwell)