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The Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (BBFF) is gearing up to stage its 41st annual national championships, and for the second time in three years, the show is moving to the nation's second city.
The nationals is set for Saturday July 26, starting at 8 p.m., at the Regency Theatre, in Freeport, Grand Bahama. The pre-judging will be held at 9 a.m. that morning, and the weigh-in and registration will be that Friday at 5 p.m. in the market square in Port Lucaya. This will be the second time ever, that the nationals will be held in Grand Bahama, building on a successful show in 2012.
"The first one was extremely successful, and that is one of the reasons why we are going back," said BBF President Danny Sumner yesterday.
"Also, a lot of the athletes over the last four years are primarily from Grand Bahama, so it makes sense from an economic point of view. The response from Grand Bahama has been tremendous in terms of participation and fan support, and we want to capitalize on that. We are looking forward to a grand show."
Over 40 competitors took part in the nationals last year. According to Sumner, the number of participants has gradually been on the increase over the past three years, climaxing with a record number last year. He is looking forward to even greater participation this year.
"There is always a challenge in getting athletes from the Family Islands, but what we are seeing this year in terms of interest has been encouraging. Long Island, in particular, will be back in full force and they will put on a good show. We still wouldn't be able to attract as much Family Island athletes as we would wan because the economy is not in the best of shape, and our grant is not what it used to be. We understand that the economy is not where it should be, so we intend to have a couple of fundraising events leading up to the CAC Championships in St. Marteen.
"Right now, our main focus is the nationals though. There has been a gradual increase in athletes participation and fan support, and this year will be no different with a number of athletes from New Providence, Grand Bahama and Long Island taking part. We're looking forward to four consecutive years of an increase in participation. That will allow us to select a bigger and broader selection of athletes for the CAC Championships."
The national team is expected to be ratified by the federation at the conclusion of the nationals. Last year, a 15-member national team finished fourth at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This year's CAC Championships is set for October 2-4 in St. Marteen.
As far as the nationals is concerned, for the first time ever, there will be no female bodybuilding, and the championships itself will be combined with the Northern Bahamas Championships. Sumner said that the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) is moving away from female bodybuilding so as to accommodate the other aspects of the sport. The other five female disciplines in the sport are female physique, body fitness, figure fitness, bikini and female classic which is actually a combination of bodybuilding and fitness.
"What is happening is that those five areas are overshadowing female bodybuilding, and because of that, a lot of the female competitors across the region are going into female physique," said Sumner. "Here at home, we don't expect there to be any fall off because the other areas of the sport are becoming increasingly more popular."
Two-time National Champion Jimmy Norious is expected to be back to defend his national title in men's bodybuilding. However, it is uncertain if Women's Bodybuilding National Champion Lorraine Lefleur will be switching to another discipline, given the demise of female bodybuilding. Also, Fitness National Champion Dominique Wilkinson earned her pro card at the CAC Championships last year, so is therefore no longer eligible for the nationals.
Sumner is cautioning athletes that mandatory drug testing will be a huge part of their focus going forward. New BBFF Vice President Dr. Cyprian Strachan, who is in charge of the daily operation of the federation, is one of the Doping Control Officers (DCOs) who will oversee the drug testing procedures.
"We have had random testing before, and it is imperative that we bring it back," said Sumner. "It is a requirement by the CAC that all 40 of its members conduct random testing leading up to the CAC Championships, so we are urging our athletes to stay clean and keep clean. We're looking for our athletes to get prepared physically and mentally without the use of performance-enhancing drugs. We have been pretty much clean as a federation over the years, and we intend to stay that way."
Also, Sumner said that a judges seminar which will be conducted by his assistant Simone Sawyer who is the chairman of the Judges Committee, is planned for this year, and the Natasha Brown Fitness and Bikini Classic, which was initially scheduled for the same weekend of the nationals, has been postponed.
"We're still supporting the Natasha Brown classic, but just at a later date," said Sumner. "It's coming on stream, most likely the early part of next year, but for now the focus is on the nationals."
Later this year at the General Congress of the CAC Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation, during the CAC Championships, Sumner will be running again for the position of vice president. He said that he is prepared to put in the work, both locally and regionally, to foster the continued growth and success of the sport.