Arnold Classic Africa 2016 Preview

Ok so we are finally here. It’s Thursday the 26th May 2016. Officials and organisers have been preparing for the Arnolds weekend for a long time. I am going to do a retrospective next week of the entire weekend but for now let’s look at the journey to get here to the day of registration. I feel that I have positives and negatives to cover so let’s dive right in.

I have been monitoring social media as much as humanly possible in the last year leading up to today. From the day the Arnolds was announced it seems that there were those who seemed dead set on discrediting it. Whether it was through Facebook smear campaigns, or gross exaggerations of the cost of entry. Comments like “It doesn’t even seem like Arnolds is going to happen” and “There will never be a Pro show” or “The expo will never be filled” and so on and so on. I feel it necessary to put a few things into perspective. Having been involved in the build-up and being a promoter of the King Shaka Classic as an official qualifier, I’ll tell you this, putting together a show like the KSC was not easy. I hear so many people in this country say that they are passionate about bodybuilding and fitness. But having moved into the admin side of things I will unequivocally say to you if you are an athlete. You have no idea of what passion for sport is until you are involved in organizing an event to cater to the needs to competitive bodybuilding and fitness athletes. As you have prepped for a said amount of time the KSC took me and my team about a year to put together. So let’s take that and multiply it by 50, no even 100 and you possibly might have an idea of what it means to put an event like an Arnold Classic together. The planning and implementation for ACA2016 has been in the works for years. The countless hours, sleepless nights and raised cortisol levels of officials and especially Mr and Mrs Price I’m sure would have given many a heart attack by now.

Remember, this is a festival of sport. Not JUST A BODYBUILDING SHOW. The magnitude of which has never been seen before in South Africa for an event of this nature. Arnolds aims to showcase the Cinderella sports in SA. i.e. any sport that is not Rugby, Cricket, Soccer or Swimming etc. The sports where there is no money and people only compete for the prestige of competition. It is often said that Amateurs are the true champions of sport. Back in the day a lot of top amateurs in sport deliberately chose not to go professional because they believed that the money they received tainted the purity of their passion for their chosen sport.

As I said above I have been watching social media this past year. The number one complaint I have seen about Arnolds is that it is too expensive. Once again let me provide some perspective. If you would like to compete in an Amateur Olympia or an Arnolds overseas you would be crapping yourself at the cost of doing so. You would have to pay for flights, food, accommodation, entry, affiliation and tonnes of costs you never anticipated. I tried to help a friend get to Arnolds Spain last year. We had to try and raise 40k in a few weeks. Remember this. The man we all admire so much who is seen as the father of modern bodybuilding – Arnold Schwarzenegger (in case you didn’t know) along with Bob Lorimer own the Arnolds Sports Festival. To bring the competition here to SA there are various fees and financial commitments that need to be met to secure it. It’s like when SA had to for eg pay for all those stadiums to be built for that World Cup thingy a few years ago. The undertaking is massive. At the end of the day FOR ME paying the fee to compete is completely worth it because I would be able to compete on one of the grandest stages in the world. Yes it would have cost me, but the truth of the matter is that if you have been going for an entry even in the last few qualifying shows you would have known what the cost was from a loooooong time ago. As Kai Greene says “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”. Call me aloof, call me arrogant but if you weren’t prepared you only have yourself to blame. I mean I haven’t heard the other sporting codes complaining about the cost of competition at the Arnolds. Have you? Out of all the comments this was my favorite “Yeah they just want us to carry the expense of putting together the show”. LOLs, really in an event that the Gauteng local government (Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!) has had to get involved, with my poor math skills even I could tell you entry fees won’t even cover the cost of hiring a floor in the Sandton Convention Centre.

That being said, remember one thing. There is a plus to all this expense that you cannot put a price on in my opinion. The fact that the Arnolds is in SA means that your families and friends will get to watch you on one of the grandest stages in the world and share the day and experience with you. Frankly the thought of my wife, family and friends not having to travel halfway across the world to see me brings a tear to my eye. Not to mention I would get to be part of an officially SASCOC recognized sporting code and body, representing my country at an international level.

Ok! So let me just step off my soap box here…

Taking all the above into account lets preview the weekend. You can look forward to 47 different sporting codes all under one roof. And what a roof it will be. The SCC is the premium venue in this country and how amazing will it be to actually always be close to all the action. Between Sandton City and the SCC there is something to keep everyone entertained. Personally, I will be taking a walk around and checking out the various sporting codes. But I will definitely be at the Bodybuilding as my primary concern.

To those competing. I’d like to say congratulations and remember something. You are competing in an event that is for the best in the world. That means for you to have been selected to officially represent Team SA you have been seen to be amongst the best in our fair country. This is a platform for quite a few Pro Cards to be handed out. BY ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER TO YOU!!!  If you wanted to become an IFBB Pro this is your best opportunity not to mention your cheapest opportunity to do so. Ask Andrew, Marius or Hennie and our other pros if they would have liked to have the opportunity to get a Pro card locally via this mechanism and I’m sure they would have all loved the chance when they were amateurs. This show is for the best of the best. So I commend you for competing and for going through all the hardship financial or otherwise. Let’s go show the rest of the world what we can do as athletes and as a country!

To our Pro level athletes! My heart is already filled with pride at the mere thought of you guys and “girl” being on stage. Thank you for committing your lives to the excellence required to compete at this level. I don’t care who is the favorite for the win, in my eyes you guys are the only ones I want to win!

Lastly, to the Gauteng local government. I don’t know about everyone else but I most certainly understand what you guys are doing for this sport and the other Cinderella sports in SA through this event. I never thought in my lifetime I would see a bodybuilding and fitness show being the main drawcard to an event in SA on this level. Driving through Sandton and the surrounding areas seeing all the advertising really tells you that this event means business and that it is mainstream. In order to raise the standard of any sport we have to have international competition. You have allowed us this opportunity as a country. Thank you for all your assistance in this process. Whatever happens I would like to say to you that I at the very least am grateful!

I will be checking in throughout the weekend and doing my best to get selfies and to try and get close to as many Pros as I can. So keep an eye out for updates!

It’s finally here people!!! Can you feel it?!?!?

 

Your Brother in Iron!

TheLayman

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