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The Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (BBFF) held its election of officers last week, and Danny Sumner was returned as president of the esteemed body.
Back for a third consecutive four-year term, Sumner said that he feels it is his duty to incorporate new strategies and ideas into the federation's program for the next four years, and he has every intention of doing so. Sumner also serves as Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation Vice President, and is still in charge of the sport in the Antilles region.
Serving in this term with him will be vice president Dr. Cyprian Strachan who replaces Derek Bullard and secretary general Lillian Moncur. Bullard will be new executive director, Oreantheia Mackey is the assistant secretary, Simone Sawyer will be the chairman of the Judges Committee, the new chairman of the Technical Committee is Jeremy Knowles, Sharon Sawyer was elected as the chairman of the Ladies Committee, the new chairman of Research and Development is Chevy Roker, the legal counsel is Donna Major, Dr. Strachan will be in charge of the Doping and Medical Committee, the two advisors are Chrishanda Newbold from Freeport, Grand Bahama, and Donna Williams from New Providence, and Dr. Richard Demeritte and Dr. Norman Gay are the two patrons of the federation.
"Well, I'm happy to be back and I'm looking forward to the task at hand," said Sumner. "There are some more things that I want to accomplish such as the high school championships, and also an armed forces segment of the nationals. The new executives are all committed to working hard, and I want to congratulate and welcome all of them into the federation. I'm happy with this team that was elected. Each one is responsible for a strategic position where they could assist in better grooming the federation. It should be a grand year, and I'm looking forward to great results moving forward."
Sumner said that they are all in high spirits, and have all pledged to work hard to ensure that the federation has continued growth.
Up first for the federation will be a fun run/walk set for Saturday March 29. The novice championships are set for May, the Northern Bahamas Championships will be held in June, and the nationals will once again be held in July.
"We have already started to embark on a number of objectives," said Sumner. "When you look at the fun run/walk, we want to encourage Bahamians from all walks of life to get involved with this. There is a strong focus on healthier living and family life for Bahamians this year. Also, one of our major concerns is getting more young people and more women attracted to the sport. There has been a decline in female bodybuilding, not just locally but worldwide because of the swimsuit factor. Females are starting to get involved with the swimsuit competition. That is more attractive to them."
In addition to swimsuit, the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB) also introduced male physique in 2013. Also, there are categories such as male fitness, now male fitness, body fitness, figure fitness and classic bodybuilding that are becoming more and more popular.
"The IFBB has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. Back then it was just male and female bodybuilding but now there are so many aspects of the sport to get involved with," said Sumner. "We want to grow with the IFBB. It is our intention to tap strongly into the high school program. It will be good if we could get it into the school curriculum. What we noticed is that a lot of schools don't have training equipment, and that's vital for the program. I think that all of the schools, public and private, should have a mini gym with weight machines and cardio machines. That will go a long way in assisting us in getting the program started in the schools."
Sumner said that major goal of his this term, is to facilitate the involvement of Bahamian high schools in the sport of bodybuilding and fitness.
During his 10 years in office, Sumner was instrumental in having the BBFF National Championships moved to the hotels from old venues such as the Garfunkel Auditorium and the Poinciana Arena. Also, the federation joined the CAC regional body under his reign, and The Bahamas won seven CAC Bodybuilding and Fitness titles in the past 10 years. Also, five athletes earned their pro cards under Sumner's reign - bodybuilders Joel Stubbs, Gena Mackey and Jay Darling, Natasha Brown in fitness, and most recently Dominique Wilkinson in fitness.
This year, the CAC Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships are set for October 2-4, in St. Maarten. Sumner said that they are looking to possibly host the CAC Championships in 2015.
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.