So we have finally kicked off the 2016 competitive year. Yes we have had a novice show here and there, but the Millennium Gold Plate (MGP) was the first serious open show for the year. Let me tell you, however you cut it this show was MASSIVE! Roughly 420 individual entries/athletes massive!
There are a few things to address which appeal to my pedantic nature and I will get to it but let me get to the day of the event. As always I seem to have some young bodybuilder sleeping over the night before a show. I have no idea why this happens. Debs has called our house the halfway house for bodybuilders as we… ok ok “I” have an open door policy when it comes to this kind of thing. As a result you could say the Bassa household is in the process of becoming somewhat of thoroughfare for anyone wanting the rules explained, their music cut or edited and so on and so on.
Anyways the young man sleeping over this time was first timer, #AllNatty Aslam Jeewa. We went through the usual routines. Me waking him up at 5am in the morning, cooking his food, serving it to him and then Debs proceeded to tan him. Arriving at the venue just before 8am the parking was pretty much full. I thought to myself “Ok this is the last Arnolds qualifier up in JHB so it’s to be expected”. We met up with a few friends and got in line. Lucky for us we did this when we did.
About 20mins later the line looked like something out of the 1994 elections. Stretching just over 100m in the hot Jozi sun. All I could think was damn I
hope these guys and girls tan doesn’t run in the all the sweating they are doing. Then I remembered “Hey I am an IFBB official, best I try and help out.” I went down the line to find those who hadn’t gotten registration forms as yet and handed out forms and pens to the end of the line. Registration opened and we all moved roughly 5 meters, which was the space between the entry door and the registrations table. It was to be the start of a looooooong arduous journey to the athlete area.
Now, the title of this article is “The dawn of a new era???”. The question marks are there because I feel that there are tonnes of things to learn from this
show. Fortunately I am generally privileged to have VIP access to events which allows me to move freely between areas so I could observe and get the general feeling of officials and athletes as well as the processes on the day. Let us at this point state the obvious. This show was the size that it was due to the fact that everyone was out for an Arnolds qualification. Which by the way weren’t so freely handed out. So much for everyone saying “Oh don’t worry it will be opened up for entries to everyone”. If you want in on the Arnolds you will have to earn it.
I digress though. What can be learned?
– Organisational Preparation – Were the organisers prepared for the roughly 420 entries? I don’t think anyone realised the pull of an Arnolds entry and the success that the show would attract. So
I will say no. That being said it was a magnificent display of what having dedicated people supporting you truly means. Officials worked their butts off to get everyone weighed-in, checked and ready to compete. I have to say for me the hardest working official on the day was Mr Gordon Wroe. Mr Wroe is a scrutineer and is the one who is responsible pretty much for consolidating all your entries and results while the judging is happening. I did not see him stop from the time I greeted him to the end of the show.
This is what the Athlete and Registration area looked like. Note the queue u see in here was stretching all the way outside as shown in the previous pics.
Registration ran as smoothly as it could have under the circumstances in my opinion. BUT I will say in future, “day before” registrations and ultimately online registration and payments should be facilitated. We are in an era where technology can really aid in this process and drastically reduce registration times at all shows and it should be embraced. More so I felt that making prepping athletes STAND for that amount of time would have compromised their condition, especially the bodybuilders.
That being said, Bravo to all involved for maximizing the current manual processes and making them work.
– Point one was for the organisers and officials. This point is directed at athletes. Firstly, very very very well done on your patience and making the best out of a “bad” situation. Yes some of you stood 3 hours just to get to the front of the line, but all I heard from you guys at the most were things like “OMG I have been standing here for ages!!” which you were, so that’s understandable and “I’m so hungry!!!” which you never should be on show day man! Nibble on your carbs!
You all displayed comradery and a general positive attitude towards the situation, which is what most likely united you in the first place. Resulting in a few new friendships here and there.
Things to learn though. Some of you were very unhappy with your placing. On the day only the top 10 really got to stand on stage and pose. The smallest lineups excluding Fitness were about 12 to 15 athletes deep. IFBB international rules and judging was implemented which meant the inclusion of an elimination round. Right, so what does that mean? Essentially you were judged in the manner as you would have been if you had been to worlds or any other major international competition. i.e. You come out on stage and the judges pick their top 10.
Is this harsh and unfair? You feel like you prepped for so long only to have stood on stage for like 1 minute right? I mean who do they think they are???
I was to be standing in the Classic Bodybuilding line up along with some top class athletes on the day. The truth of the matter is that after all the hours of training and dieting and pain and anguish I could very realistically not have made the top 10. So I thought about what that would have meant for me. I realised then that all it would mean is that I would not have been good enough to make the top 10. Despite what I saw in the mirror or my coach or my friends and family told me. I was simply not good enough. It is said that judges make their primary decisions in the first 10 to 20 seconds athletes are on stage. That ladies and gents is the value of your first impression. If you didn’t catch a judge’s eye in that time, your stage presence and presentation of all your work was not good enough. Had I been faced with that stark reality I would have simply carried on the provincials. This in fact was the perfect preparation for the Arnold Classic Africa. We will be getting international judges from different parts of the world who don’t know who “John” or “Jane” are and your first impression on them will really be a true first. So make sure that in the last days running up to Arnolds you are truly transforming yourself into a world class athlete.
– Point 3, and this is my most important point to come out of the MGP. Despite the difficulties of the day please understand something. Bodybuilding and Fitness is a privileged sport. Financially it is massively expensive. But more importantly being healthy and able bodied and of sound mind so that you may pursue your competitive goals is an absolute privilege.This could not have been better displayed when my new personal hero Mr Caleb Mutombo stood on stage. Caleb was allowed to stand on stage with able bodied athletes.
Ladies and gents, I see a lot of bodies, t-walks and posing routines in a competitive season. I will honestly tell you that though I may enjoy some routines, there have been only 2 that actually elicited an emotional response from me. They are Justin Thacker’s and Keshav Saikoolal. They take the beauty of their songs and pair it with well thought, well executed and classy posing. They both convey the beauty of the human form for me through their performance.
Caleb however, elicited the strongest emotional response of all the performances I have ever seen. And all he did was stand there! Not only did he stand on stage without assistance. He stood there with the widest smile I have ever seen on a bodybuilder. He didn’t place top 10, he didn’t get a chance to pose, BUT he made the hugest impression on me on the day and a lot of others. Meeting him backstage, he was not upset after being on stage. He was as polite as one could be and not feeling sorry for himself. It seemed that the fact that he got up there and did what most would have thought impossible for him, hugely satisfied him.
For me, this is what the spirit of bodybuilding is. To do the impossible. To do what no one else thinks you can do. To break free of your own fears and insecurities and most importantly to triumph over one’s self.
So in conclusion, what did I think of the MGP? Yes there were positives. Yes there were negatives but in all honesty I came out of it feeling like it was one of the most enjoyable events I had been to in a while. It ended up being that because of all my interactions with you all. Is it a dawn of a new era for IFBB? For now it remains unanswered to me but time will tell if the lessons learnt at this years MGP will translate into actions and more efficient processes and systems.
The Hemmingway has come and gone, MGP has come and gone and I think Joburg definitely set the tone for the last 2 qualifying shows for Arnolds. I am really excited to see what the Zulu Kingdom and CT have in store for us. If you are at the Shameen please feel free to tag me in ALL your pics as I won’t be at that one. I will be down for the King Shaka Classic though and after what I saw in JHB I am beginning to wonder if I may not have to review last year’s write up on if KZN is still the Mecca of Bodybuilding in SA.
Results and athlete reviews to follow shortly!
Your Brother in Iron