By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Bodybuilding & Weightlifting Federation (ABBWF), Dave George, has ruled out the possibility of a pre-qualifier being utilized in the near future to eliminate competitors ahead of the federation’s national championships.
His statement comes on the heels of news that a record number of 63 competitors have registered for this year’s nationals slated for August 24th at the Multipurpose & Exhibition Cultural Center at Perry Bay.
“We have 20 athletes in men’s physique and we have a situation where bikini fitness has a few; bikini wellness also has a few and hardcore bodybuilding has a few and those are the top four categories in terms of the number of entrants this year,” he said.
“At this stage, the numbers are still at a level where we don’t need to have a pre-show so we are starting the show at 4 pm because we have 63 athletes and we don’t want the show to finish at two or three o’clock in the morning; so the reason for starting the show at 4 pm this year is primarily surrounding the fact that we have so many competitors and we want to make sure that we get out of the Multipurpose & Exhibition Cultural Center at a reasonable time,” he added.
A pre-qualifier would allow the federation to cut the number of registrants down to a reasonable number ahead of the main show.
George believes, however, that the growth in numbers is a positive for the sport.
“It is a record breaking year for us and never in history have we had so many competitors; so we are very pleased about that and that is an indicator that the average gym-goer is no longer just an average gym-goer and they are taking it to the next level; and they have sat back and realised that something is really sweet crossing the stage and they want a piece of the action; so they have thrown their hats in the ring. They have basically said to us they want to compete and by extension the proof is in the pudding,” he said.
Notably missing from this year’s line-up, however, is reigning bikini fitness champion Kimberly Percival (formerly Ephraim). Percival has reportedly opted not to take part in this year’s competition and a host of other regional shows as she takes time off to improve her physique.