THE National Federation of Zimbabwe Bodybuilding and Fitness (NFZBBF) will hand over official invitations to hulks that will participate in the inaugural Arnold Classic Africa to be held in South Africa in May.
The Arnold Classic Africa is an offshoot of the annual Arnold Sports Festival held in Columbus, Ohio, United States of America, named after legendary professional body-builder Arnold Schwarzenegger, featuring a bodybuilding and fitness tournament and a three-day Fitness Expo.
The Arnold Classic Africa will be the fifth leg of the competition and joins other classics that are held in Europe, the United States, Brazil and Australia.
The event will be held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg and will include a minimum of 20 sporting codes hosting youth, amateur and professional events. It will bring to Johannesburg about 10,000 athletes of whom 5,000 are expected to be youths.
NFZBBF spokesperson Quiet Shingai said the handover of the invitations will be done at a colourful ceremony to be held at an up market Harare restaurant on Saturday.
Shingai said the names of local bodybuilders going to South Africa for the historic event has been kept under wraps and even the athletes were unaware.
“We’re holding the handover ceremony at a restaurant in Avondale where some of the country’s top bodybuilders and fitness athletes will be given their invitations to the Arnold Classic Africa,” said Shingai.
“The names are being kept a secret by the secretary-general and will only be known on the day of the ceremony. The Arnold Classic Africa follows the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness guidelines (IFFBB) and is open to athletes from other continents. It’s a tough competition but we’re hoping our bodybuilders will do well.”
Save for the masters category, men’s fitness and wheelchair bodybuilding, athletes in other categories are eligible for consideration for the tournament.
Local bodybuilders expected to receive invitations on Saturday are Victor Hungwe, reigning Mr Zimbabwe Chienderamwano,
Isaac Chimuchenga and Regina Jonga.
Fitness physique contestant Sally Lapage, and Helen Costa are expected to make the trip to South Africa.
South Africa-based Crofton Murombo has already qualified after shrugging off stiff competition from other highly rated bodybuilders from that country.
Shingai said taking part in the tournament gives local bodybuilders a chance to earn an IFBB professional card; a status every professional bodybuilder wants to achieve.
The cards are bodybuilders’ tickets to compete in the Mr Olympia and Miss International competitions, which are the ultimate competitions in as far as the sport is concerned.
“The competition is going to be very tough but we won’t be surprised if the likes of Lapage, who is under the watch of IFBB certified trainer Marius Dohne, and Helen Costa make the grade in the fitness category,” said Shingai.
No Zimbabwean has ever earned an IFBB professional card and the only ones that almost made the grade are former Mr Zimbabwe 1987 Bible Mhizha, who is now based in South Africa, and Mr Zimbabwe 1993 Grand Anderson.