Sports

Bodybuilding and fitness team on the bubble

Federation has insufficient funds to send squad to CAC Championships

It seems like the more things change in this country, the more they remain the same.

Once again, a substantial totally qualified national team is on the verge of being left at home as a result of insufficient funds for travel for regional competition.

After a very successful novice and national championships, the Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (BBFF) ratified a 16-member team to compete in the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness’ (IFBB) 49th Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships, set to take place this weekend at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Center in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Raymond Tucker and Leonardo Dean were set to travel as the coaches of the team, and making the trip as judges were set to be Charles Sealy and Robert Harris. BBFF President Joel Stubbs was set to travel as a federation executive and sit in regional meetings as a representative of The Bahamas.

However, with the limited funds that were offered to the team, Stubbs said there is no way to get the entire contingent to Barbados. He said if needed, he would forfeit his trip to ensure that all of the athletes travel and The Bahamas is well represented.

“We got some news as it relates to funding, but the news is not favorable, and for the team to travel, we came to an understanding that it cannot work. What is said that we would receive is certainly not enough to carry Team Bahamas and I am not in a position to just carry two or three athletes to the championships. All of the athletes who were chosen are deserving of an opportunity to go out there and represent The Bahamas. If officials need to be taken from the team, I would stay to allow the team to travel, but we have to send all of the athletes who would have been chosen,” said Stubbs.

The federation president said he is not too optimistic given the lateness of the hour. Registration and weigh-in of the athletes is set for Thursday and the pre-judging process will get underway on Friday. The official opening of the event and most of the finals are set for Saturday. Given all of the requirements, inclusive of COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, Stubbs said that the feasibility of the team traveling appears grim at the moment.

“At this moment, there is no response, so we are just in the waiting stage that something would be done quickly. We are at the 11th hour and tomorrow (today) is the 12th hour. Decisions will have to be made tomorrow (today),” he said. “If seats are still available for air travel, we would have an opportunity to purchase tickets if financial assistance is given. If it’s not given, then it’s a loss for us. It’s a pressing time for the Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation and all we could do now is sit and wait. Hopefully, we are blessed with favor and are able to travel and take this dynamic team off to the CACs.”

Named to the team on the men’s side are Gemo Smith (Men’s Muscular Physique), Giovanne Farrington (Men’s Bodybuilding – Middleweight), Orick Nesbitt (Men’s Bodybuilding – Super Heavyweight), Terrion Kemp (Men’s Physique – Junior), Justin Lightbourne (Men’s Physique – Class A), Anthon Moxey (Men’s Physique – Class C), Wedlear Eugene (Men’s Physique – Class D), Judah Forbes (Men’s Physique – Class E) and Kaif Young and Davin Johnson (Men’s Physique – Class F).

On the women’s side, there are Fania Joseph (Women’s Bikini – Class B), Kastachia Stuart (Women’s Bikini – Class G), Britnae Davis (Women’s Bikini – Class H), Cara Saunders and Altonmique Curtis (Women’s Wellness) and Dorcas Cox (Women’s Figure/Body Fitness).

Guardian Sports reached out to Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg for a response to the dilemma faced by the national team, but he said that he was unable to comment at the moment as he was in a meeting in London, England, ahead of the 22nd Commonwealth Games.

Former CAC team member for The Bahamas and one of the few bodybuilding and fitness athletes to ever represent The Bahamas as far as the world championships, Paul ‘Mighty Mouse’ Wilson, said lack of funding for national team travel for the sport is an ongoing problem that started a long time ago.

“It’s unfortunate. I’ve had a lot of experience when it comes to last-minute funding or no funding at all for national team members. My view is that it is so unfair for anyone to work hard all year to make a national team to represent their country on an international stage and then be told that they cannot go anywhere because of a lack of funding,” said Wilson. “From my understanding, every sporting federation in the country has its own bank account where money is disbursed and national teams are subsidized by the government of The Bahamas. I’ve been in that situation a few times, where I made it as high as the world championships, and as an athlete, it’s not a good feeling. Money is spent on supplements, diet and training by athletes and that money would have gone to naught. I know how these athletes feel 110 percent – how can the government find money for one sport and not for the next? It seems like all the money goes in a certain area, but here you have a national team ready to travel and represent the country, and they can’t get the necessary funding. To me, that is completely wrong.”

BBFF President Stubbs said it is still his hope that the team is able to travel but it doesn’t look too promising at this time.

“We’re waiting and hoping and praying without ceasing that the opportunity is given,” said Stubbs. “We’re now looking for the government to step up and allow the athletes of The Bahamas to have this opportunity to represent the country and represent the country well.”

The CACs is an outlet for bodybuilding and fitness athletes to obtain their pro cards. Pro cards will be up for grabs in all of the categories that will be contested. Host nation Barbados, Jamaica, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic are just some of the nations that will field athletes this weekend.

Last year, the federation was able to field eight athletes to make the trip to Sal Salvador, El Salvador, for the CACs. Although it was a small team, they produced eight medals that included two gold, three silver and three bronze.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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