THE last three months have been a rollercoaster for newly-crowned Mr. Zimbabwe bodybuilding champion Paul Goredema. BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
With close to seven years in competitive bodybuilding having yielded nothing more than a second place finish, everything changed this year when he won the Boksburg Classic in South Africa in August and then went on to scoop the Mr. Zimbabwe title at the Harare International School.
Goredema is yet to get over the shock of his dream victory two weeks ago.
“I was shocked and I still can’t believe it. You know prior to the show I was hoping for a place in the top three, but realised later I outclassed the athletes that came with good physiques. I am overwhelmed and so happy that I was the last man standing,” the Gweru-based athlete said in an interview with Standardsport.
As a young boy, he dreamt about the big stages and winning big events, but it was never in bodybuilding.
Instead, it was always some of the world’s feted tennis courts such as the Flashing Meadows that hosts tennis Grand Slams, as well as Wimbledon’s All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
“When I was young, I always wanted to be a professional tennis player, so my dream was to play and win Grand Slams. I started off as a tennis player from a young age and even represented the Midlands Province in age group teams until I finished my O’ Level,” Goredema said.
“Because I was small in stature, I ended up interested in the gym so as time went by a couple of guys at the gym approached me and said ‘you have a good physique, why don’t you try bodybuilding’?” he added.
One of the people who approached him was none other than multiple Mr. Zimbabwe category and Mr. Ironman winner, veteran bodybuilder Isaac Sugar Chimuchenga.
Competing in events such as the All Africa Olympia in 2012 held at Harare International Conference Centre, the winners’ podium almost always eluded him and he had to contend with settling for second or third place finishes, until his triumph in South Africa in early August.
His only two victories to date came in successive tournaments following a two-year break from the sport.
“In 2013, I started a Business Management degree programme at Midlands State University, while I was also going to work so I couldn’t balance the three. I made education a priority and completed the programme in June 2015 and graduated in December, so for two years I was out of competition and out of shape.
“Beginning of 2016 I was back in the gym. My body quickly changed, with most guys always asking me how I do it and my response was always that I take my time. So in August I took leave from work and was in South Africa and did the Boksburg Classic just to get back in competitive spirit.
“It was more like a warm-up show and it motivated me when I won. People were anticipating I would enter Mr. Iron Man, but I took time to prepare for the big show; Mr. Zimbabwe,” Goredema explained.
Away from the addiction of pumping iron and steel in gyms, Goredema works as a Stores assistant in the mechanical engineering department at Gweru Polytechnic.
The athlete, born and bred in Mambo Township, is looking to going professional one day.
“My ultimate goal is to turn professional and one day step on the Olympia stage representing Zimbabwe. However, bodybuilding is an expensive sport and it’s not easy to get to that physique I displayed at Mr. Zimbabwe, so I’m currently looking for sponsorship to ensure that I work towards fulfilling my goal,” the former Thornhill and Chaplin High School student said.