A total of nine pro card opportunities will be up for grabs at the IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness) Pro League World Caribbean Championships, set for June 26-27, at the Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar.
Event promoter Tim Gardner, of the United States, said when the idea surfaced to bring the popular bodybuilding and fitness event to The Bahamas, the only concern was the cost of the resort and accommodations. He said given the COVID climate in the region and around the world, and the reduced costs that are associated with it, they were able to reasonably facilitate the move of the event, which is now in its seventh year, from Puerto Rico to The Bahamas. He further said that it’s not far out of the realm of possibility that one of their shows will be able find a permanent home in The Bahamas in the not-too-distant future.
“We’re excited, especially since there was basically no action in 2020 because of COVID-19,” said Gardner through a Zoom call yesterday. “This event is open to NPC (National Physique Committee) athletes, it is an IFBB Pro League pro qualifier and it is also an Olympia qualifier for the professional athletes. With Baha Mar, we knew we were going to get a beautiful resort. We’re looking forward to that. Also, typically a show like this would garner over 200 pro athletes and about 200 amateurs, but because of COVID-19 and increased airfare into The Bahamas, those numbers are pretty much cut in half and most of them would be Americans. We’re looking forward to as much participation from Bahamian athletes as possible and hopefully, they will be able to take home some of those pro cards.”
The two-day show is separated into two sections – an IFBB Pro League show for the professionals, and the amateur event for which nine IFBB Pro League pro cards will be available. In the pro show, there will be 10 categories and 10 ensuing slots for Olympia qualification.
Tim Gardner Productions produces four of the top five IFBB Pro League pro/am shows for this region, of which the Tampa Pro Show in his hometown of Tampa, Florida, in early August, is the largest. Gardner hinted that any show that is in the works for The Bahamas would feature at least three to four categories.
“We knew that we couldn’t go two years in a row without having this show. This one show wasn’t going to make or break us, but if we didn’t put it on, it was going to somewhat taint our reputation of promoting the athletes,” said Gardner. “This is a loss for us, but to me, it’s always been about the athletes and not the business side of it. I was once an athlete so I know the hard work and training that goes on on a daily basis. Without that deep-rooted passion, it’s hard to put on events like this and be successful. We knew that if we were committed to this, it would show that we are solid in our stance and serious about promoting the athletes. We empathize with everyone who missed shows last year, so we knew that if we committed to this it would really show who we are and what we’re about.”
There was a split in the IFBB four years ago, forming two separate factions – the NPC/IFBB Pro League and the IFBB Elite, which continued to adhere to the values and standards of the original IFBB. There are athletes in the country who have earned pro status through the IFBB Pro and the NPC and who are able to compete in the show, but it is not sanctioned by the IFBB Elite and its member bodies including the Central American and Caribbean Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (CACBBFF) and the Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (BBFF).
Gardner said through his associates here in The Bahamas, he was able to bring the IFBB Pro League World Caribbean Championships to Baha Mar and is looking forward to the realization of a Bahamas pro show in bodybuilding and fitness in the not-too-distant future.
“The two main things we will need is support from the government and sponsorship,” said Gardner. “We still have to take care of sanctioning fees and prize money – that alone is approximately $106,000. This particular show will be a loss for us but hopefully we could have a good game plan to bring some sort of pro/am show back to Nassau next year.”
According to reports, local athletes are very excited about participating in the pro/am show. Gardner said that about 15 from The Bahamas have registered and they’re looking for that number to increase leading up to the show. Athletes have until the Friday evening before the staging of the show to register.
All athletes, coaches, officials and patrons would have to take a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test or be fully vaccinated in order to be allowed entry on the premises of the Baha Mar Resort.
In total, about 10 Bahamians have earned their pro cards in bodybuilding and fitness, either through the IFBB Elite or the NPC/IFBB Pro League, with the latest one being Jason Johnson who won the overall title in male fitness model at the WBFF (World Beauty Fitness & Fashion) Bahamas International ProAm Show at Atlantis, Paradise Island, at the end of May.
The IFBB Pro League World Caribbean Championships is a tier three event for Olympia qualification and an IFBB Pro League pro qualifier.