DAY two of Arnold Classic Africa bodybuilding contest at Sandton Convention Centre brought about joy, tears and heartbreaks for Zimbabwean amateur women who went on stage yesterday. Mehluli Sibanda in Johannesburg, South Africa
Regina Jonga, Helen Costa, Precious Mujuru, Shirley Spreeth and Selina Manuel did the country proud by finishing in top six positions in their respective categories. There was however, heartbreak for Demi Ferreira and Shantel Greenland.
Jonga, competing under the South African banner purely due to sponsorship issues took the Women’s Physique. The 40-year-old Jonga shed tears when she was announced as the best in a competition entered by six contestants. Costa was also the best in the Women’s Body Fitness where another Zimbabwean, Mujuru took fourth place. For the 35-year-old Costa, it was actually her first time to participate in Arnold Classic Africa while Mujuru was here last year.
Manuel started off a fine day for the Zimbabwean females when she took sixth place in the Junior Fitness Bikini where there were seven contestants. With her father Moideeen, mother Maggy as well as coach Simon Gama cheering her from the crowd, the 18-year-old Manuel, an Upper Six pupil at Petra High School was composed as she claimed a medal. Ferreira however, failed to get a top six placing in the same contest. She also tried her luck in the seniors but again did not make it to the top six.
Spreeth was fifth in the Women Fitness Bikini under 163 centimetres where the turnout was huge. There was however, heartbreak for Greenland after she could not get on stage in what was a mix up by the organisers. The Bulawayo-based bodybuilder said when those in charge decided to combine her category, they did not call her up to go on stage only for her to find out when her group was already being paraded and she was not allowed to join them.
“They combined categories, I didn’t know about it so my line-up went through and when I went to ask the officials they told me that my line-up was on stage but they refused to let me in even though they had just started. It’s horrible, my heart is so sore after putting so much to prepare for the competition its stressful for just an official to just stand there and say no, I am not going to let you go on stage,’’ said Greenland.
What hurt Greenland was the fact that her United Kingdom-based husband, Nathan had gone out of his way, at a massive cost, to ensure that her competition gear which had been stuck in Harare arrived in South Africa late on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, Arnold Classic heads into its third and final day today with three Zimbabwean men going on stage this morning.
Mr Zimbabwe, Paul Goredema, Eliah Samaringa and Garikayi Mujuru are the Zimbabwean confirmed to be going on parade this morning. Goredema yesterday expressed his readiness for his heavyweight division. The 27-year-old has been in South Africa since 18 April so as to access better training facilities. It has been tough for preparing for Arnold Classic for Goredema as he has spent $3 000 of personal funds from January with $1 500 of that used up from March as he intensified his fine tuning.
“So far I have had a couple of challenges but I have pulled through, managed to get everything in order so I am ready for tomorrow (today). It’s been tough because I have only been able get some assistance from my family and some of my funds were personal, I haven’t found a sponsor as yet but hopefully after this show if I place maybe I can get something,’’ said Goredema.
Zimbabwe had 23 competitors who were meant to come to South Africa but most of them withdrew their participation mostly to do with lack of funding for diet and the entry fee. Some of those who pulled out are bodybuilders, Ndumiso Dlodlo, Lovemore Munyamana, Nigel Maphosa, Simbarashe Mhaka, Blessing Nyapimbi, the Strongman duo of Gift Sango and Prosper Saungweme.
The biggest multi-sport gathering in the continent, now in its second year in Africa is the idea of legendary bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger. This year over 14 000 athletes are competing in 58 different sporting codes.