Saying no to junk food in favour of hours in the gym seems to have paid off for Slovenian sports student Marko Šobot, as he has placed among the front runners for the final of the Mister International contest. Now it will all come down to the final, on Saturday, when Marko will see if the preparation has paid off and he can take home the title to Slovenia.
For catwalk new-comer Marko, 26, being part of the international contest underway in Thailand is a world away from his hometown of Novo Mesto. “It felt surreal when I first heard that I was to compete at Mister International,’ he said.
“I think that I had a smile on my face probably for one week straight. But after that, I trained every day and tried to eat properly. I even stayed away from junk food restaurants. If I happened to break my diet, which did happen occasionally, the next day I trained twice as hard to compensate.”
From Slovenian Shop Worker to Male Model
Like many of the greats, his modelling career started when he was discovered working behind the counter of a shop. “About one year ago, I working in the sport nutrition store and at the opening of that shop I met an agent for Mister Model Management,’ said sports student Marko.
“He offered me a shoot for a book with a very good photographer, Ana Gregorič [above right]. Of course, I accepted the opportunity and, on the base of those pictures, they offered me a contract. After that, it went so fast and here I am now, at Mister International. Thanks to my agency, who kept me busy with fashion shows and photo shoots, I had plenty of preparations for the contest on runways and in front of the camera.”
Now that he has made it to Bangkok, things could not be going better for Marko. “This is my first international contest, so I am really excited to be here,’ he said. “So far everything is even better than I imagined. I am really enjoying meeting new interesting people, making new friends and, of course, enjoying the tropical weather here in Thailand. I am not a big fan of winter! The positive attitude of the Thai people has been wonderful. They really live up to the reputation that they are the land of smiles.”
Balkan Boys Making Friends With The World
While he has been naturally drawn to people from the region, Marko has been taking full advantage of his opportunity to make new friends. “All the contestants from the Balkans connected the first day,’ he said. “But there are people from almost forty different countries here, so I have tried to meet and make friends with all of them and not limit myself just to one group. I think we all came here with the same attitude about making new friends around the world.
Marko has also been pleasantly surprised to see how knowledgeable the other contestants are about Slovenia. “Actually, they were all pretty well informed about it, which was good to see,’ he said. “With the internet, there is no reason not to be, I guess.
“I am sharing a room with a great guy and a great model from the Slovak Republic. It makes things more interesting to share a room. People are always mixing up Slovenia, Slovakia and Serbia, but we find that quite amusing. It’s good for us to be able to laugh about something like that.”
Young Shoulders Carrying the Hopes of a Nation
For the contestants, having something to laugh about can bring light relief to the days of rehearsals and activities, but they also know that the eyes of their country are upon them. “It feels really great to be representing your country,’ he said. “Knowing that I am carrying the hopes of my nation only gives me strength and support. I hope my efforts to represent my country will open doors for me not only in Slovenia but also abroad, too. I want to work as a model in other countries.”
While carrying the hopes of the nation can weigh heavily, having the support of people back home can be a great encouragement. “I know my family and friends support me one hundred per cent, so it motivates me even more,’ he said. “I have the best brother and sister. Both of them are older than me – but I am the tallest – and I have really supportive parents, whom I have to thank for everything. Without them none of this would be possible.”
Unfortunately, Marko has received some worrying news from home while he has been in Bangkok. “Today I got news that my dog, Chica, needs to go to the vet,’ he said. “I am a worried about her, of course, and I miss my family and my friends, but there will be plenty of time to catch up when I get back. Until then, I can keep in touch with them through Facebook.”
Looking ahead to the final, Marko has his lucky soundtrack that has seen him through this far in the process. “I listen to every kind of music, depending on the mood,’ he said. “Before every contest for the national competition I listened to Beau Williams’ Feeling So Good Today, so I will do the same here.
“I got it from a scene in the movie, Kickboxer. Jean-Claude van Damme is dancing with some Thai girls and then he fights with the whole bar. That song just gets me in the right mood to do my best.”
As well as music, mixed martial arts fan Marko takes energy from a striking oriental tattoo down the right side of his body. “My tattoo is the transformation, a koi turning into a dragon,’ he said. “It represents my goals in life, my aim to achieve perfection and have the courage to stand behind the decisions I make in my life.”
Such grounding methods will come in handy in the few days before Saturday’s final. “We are coming towards the end now so I need to remain confident, relaxed and with lots of positive energy. But for me to achieve excellence, I first need to do a great job at rehearsals and memorise the choreography. So I will give it my best and, really, that is all anyone can ask of you.”