So thus far this was one of the most anticipated weekends for me. Thus far I have been to the KZN Ironman Novice show and the Gauteng North Novice IFBB Show. Both shows were smaller and the competitors were obviously Novices. While there was some good quality on show at these shows it wasn’t the vast majority of competitors that managed to hit condition. With the exception of Johnny Lucas and Edward Maloiso pushing each other at Gauteng North the KZN Ironman had clear winners in all classes and the overall.
Apologies for the quality of images the lighting made it difficult to focus.
I was looking to the Rossi to bring the quality. I can tell you that I wasn’t disappointed. The athletes that competed were in shape and a lot crisper than what I have seen so far this year. There were no federation boundaries which was really cool so I got to see an array of athletes pushing and fighting for top honours. Mingling around the backstage area I recognised and met some faces. I finally got to meet the ever controversial Jack Lotter who is a lot calmer and friendlier in real life than his online persona. The bouncy Sarah Hall, really tall Kyle Viljoen, young and dashing Tumi Seeco and the rest of the STS stable were all there. Team Mad Scientist and the Kelfit girls also graced us all within close proximity of each other. Lee Binks (Chaldecot) backstage presence is every bit as strong as her on stage self. Viv Goosen and The judges included Stian Lemmer, Ashley Frost, Julian Louw, Kevin Shwartz, Christa Foxcroft and an amazing feat of endurance by Marco Pietrowski. I can tell you with my back issues I was in pain from sitting for that long so I have no idea how he got through the entire weekend in his wheelchair. These were just to mention a few.
The Rossi Grand Prix it seems is perfectly timed this year. As I sit here writing this we are 19 days out from WBFF SA and I heard a lot of athletes saying that they are prepping for that show as well. The Rossi was therefore a great opportunity to get some stage time and competition experience for athletes and eye time for the coaches to see how their guys and gals respond to carb up protocols and the rigours of prep as well as being able to see what kind of stage presence and posing their athletes could present.
Judging from the aftermath of the show on Facebook and Instagram the athletes had a ball of a time. With statuses like “Had so much fun at Rossi!!!” and “What an awesome experience!” I can certainly say that Mr Marco Rossi hit the mark with providing the athletes with a great platform to showcase their work.
At this point you may notice that I have not gotten into my customary experiential view point of writing. But I wanted to list the positives first as there were many. With that said I will now get into my experience of the show. Though the quality of the athletes was strong I felt from a spectator’s point of view the show could have been run better. From the moment I saw the amount of categories published online I knew this was going to be a long show. But in all honesty I underestimated it. There were 31 categories excluding the Overall line-ups. Prejudging on Friday started 46 minutes late due to technical glitches and finished up at 23:30pm on Friday night. As I drove home after prejudging I thought to myself “Well if prejudging ended at this time, the show will most likely run faster and end earlier.” Which would be excellent since I had planned on going to the “after party” event organised by the Manhattan Hotel to mingle after. I would not be attending the after party though as the main show ended at 01:00am on Sunday morning after starting at 14:00pm on Saturday. It was a marathon 2 days for me. In 48 hours I along with the judges had spent almost 24 straight hours observing bodies. There were intervals in between but I only stepped out for one of them to see what the vibe was like at the expo portion of the show. Which was also a side I was looking forward to experiencing since we don’t really have fitness expos in SA. For me the format of the show didn’t lend itself to getting the exhibitors maximum exposure since we were constantly in and out in short intervals.
Small things like calling all the athletes out on stage then sending them off and calling back the top 10 cost a lot of time. I felt that the organisers could have called out the class. Then asked the top 10 athletes to step forward and thank the rest for their participation. Or ven just get the top 10 back that they identified in prejudging the previous day. This could have save 1 or 2 minutes per class and by the end of 31 classes it could have been anywhere from a 30 to 60 min saving on the show time.
With regard to the judging I thought the judges did an excellent job with placings but I’m not sure I entirely agree with the allowance of cross category competing. For me logically if an athlete wins or places in a class it means that he/she best represents the criteria of that class. So if he/she comes up again on stage for a different class surely they could not meet the criteria for that class. I saw some girls that should have been more on the toned bikini side and some guys that would have been better placed in the Mr Physique class. This sometimes lead to what I thought was the best looking athlete on stage not placing in one class but then placing high in a different class. Some athletes came out in 3 different classes which for me was really difficult to comment on them in different contexts as I usually do since an opinion of them had already been formed in a previous class and could surely not be changed now in the subsequent class? i.e. I had already formed a bias on where I felt they fit in.
Initially I thought that it was just me that was exhausted but the crowds enthusiasm definitely waned over the course of the evenings and when Mr Rossi encouraged support there were times when it seemed people were simply too tired to oblige. Though it was smart to keep the Bikini and bodybuilding classes for the end as this encouraged many to hang around and scream for their friends.
Driving home at 1am Sunday morning to Johannesburg from Pretoria, ironically close to home I fell asleep on the highway only to be woken up by the painted rumble strip solid line on the N1. By the end of the main show after 2 days of being up at 5am and getting home still eating my final meal at 1am and 2am in the morning respectively I was finished. In future I have resolved to assess how I am feeling and if I have far to drive look at staying over somewhere (budget permitting)or simply leave early to get home safe. I would rather apologise to my readers than not be there to write-up at all.
Ok I have given you positives and negatives so far of the show. But what was my overall impression. In the end the Rossi Grand Prix was an experience for me. A positive one at that. I got to see some great athletes compete and to meet some cool industry people that I would have most likely never gained exposure to. I had some good company which I would recommend to anyone going to a show of such length, since it really helps to keep you going and in the end I ended up building my “Show Endurance” if you will.
The category that impressed me the most was not the heaviest bodybuilding one or the sassiest bikini girls. For me it was something far deeper about what it means to be a fitness athlete or competitor or to live the fit lifestyle. The transformation category. Gen Brand has managed to inspire far more people than I’m sure she ever thought possible with her transformation which culminated in winning the first transformation category at Body Beautiful SA last year. The power that the transformation class has to introduce the non-fitness inclined to the industry is indisputable. As a person who already works to the maximum of MY body’s capability, I found myself thinking; ”If these people could overcome their challenges, mine are nothing?” (you can read more about my challenges in my up-coming journey to stage journals)
These were stories not only beating the Grimm Reaper but stories also far more “ordinary” if you will. They ranged from losing touch with oneself and neglecting your health, to literally knocking on deaths door but deciding you would not step through today. At the end of the day it taught me that everyone is fighting a battle against their situation or themselves and that overcoming, even just the challenge of finding “the time to train” can be a huge deal. The key is to always persevere and value yourself enough to know that when you look after you the rest of your life can change.
Yaseen Valli won the men’s title in this class. He had come back from stage 3 cancer, a collapsed liver, failed kidneys and who knows what else. All I could tell you is that not many would have been standing on that stage alive let alone flexing his heart out for your entertainment.
Johanka Smit had to be carried out by her coach since she was in so much pain due to pushing an operation to actually be at the show and showcase her 77kg weight loss. She won the lady’s transformation title.
Carrie Van Heerden whom I have had the pleasure of meeting but never discussed her reasons for competing revealed that she overcame her alcohol addiction with assistance from choosing a fit lifestyle. It was decided at the last moment that her bravery would be rewarded with a runner up placing.
With the exception of Carrie, Yaseen and Johanka were awarded a cash prize but all were awarded 12 month supplement sponsorships from Pure Nutrition as well as the privilege of being part of the brands PR and marketing campaigns as brand ambassadors. At the end of this night these individual’s lives would be changed forever. I am really looking forward to witnessing them grow both as ambassadors and physically or competitively in the coming years. It’s funny how sometimes one can end up in a place that would have seemed impossible. A decision here, some will power there, throw in some quality guidance and advice and before you know it you don’t even recognise the old you.
All in all the Rossi Grand Prix experience was a good one for me. Even with my falling asleep on the way home. It has definitely set the stage for the WBFF SA show for me in a few days’ time, where I am 110% sure the glitz and glamour will be stepped up 10 fold.
I bid you adieu and hope to meet you on the 14th June at WBFF SA.
Your Brother in Iron
Some Images below.