By Neto Baptiste
‘Overwhelmed,’ ‘speechless’ and ‘unbelievable’ are just some of the adjectives used by the country’s IFBB Elite bikini fitness professional and now reigning Arnold Classic Europe champion, Kimberly Percival, to describe the rush of emotions she felt after the announcement that she had captured the prestigious international title.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show from Sevilla, Spain, Percival said she is still yet to realise the full gravity of her achievement.
“I was overwhelmed, and just happy, and just speechless, and just totally lost in wonder – did this just happen? I honestly don’t even think that it has really hit me as yet because you’re here [Spain] and you don’t have all of your friends and family around you, and yes, people are sending well wishes, but when I get home and touch down [in Antigua] and feel the embrace of Antigua, that is when it will really set in,” she said.
“Something like this for Antigua is huge, it’s beyond huge, and to come in as one of the only black persons on that podium because you would have seen the list of countries, and to come from a little dot in the ocean and have that sort of impact, I am really happy to be able to do that,” she added.
Kimberly edged Spain’s Lina Bejarano to the top prize in the Bikini Fitness category, with fellow Antiguan, Michelle Seaforth, finishing third.
Percival’s husband, Bernard Percival Jr, finished in the top 10 of this event for the second time at the Arnold Classics in the Men’s Classic Physique category, while Michelle’s twin sister Melissa Seaforth, who also competed in the Bikini Class, finished 16th overall.
Kimberly said the rest of team played a major role in her success.
“If it wasn’t for these specific set of people being there with me, I don’t think the experience would have been as wonderful as it was. We were very supportive of each other, making sure everybody was ready and prepped. I have to say a big ‘thank you’ to Bernard for just being in my ear the last minute to just say breathe, do what you do at home when you’re practicing, and just enjoy the moment; bringing his experience from previous competitions with his hindsight knowing that you just have to take the moment and just do your best. And Melissa and Michelle offering their words of encouragement and just having a space of positive energy around you,” the athlete said.
Meanwhile, Michelle said that finishing within the top three never occupied her mind, stating that her aim was simply to be competitive.
“For me, I came in to it with absolutely zero expectations. I honestly just came, as Bernard said, to just enjoy, and for me, just getting invited to this prestigious event you’re already an accomplished athlete so for me I was already happy. Even when they came behind stage [backstage] with the top 10 list and all 18 of the girls are running up to see if their names are on the list, and I just stayed back and then they said, you’re on the list, so for me, just advancing and continuing to advance to every round in the top 10, top five and then to finish off with a top three placement especially behind my teammate, Kimberly, as number one, I just felt overwhelmed with gratitude,” she said. Both Kimberly and Bernard are expected back on Tuesday, while twins Melissa and Michelle return on Sunday.