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Recession’s body blows

Paul Mayers

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Bodybuilding has been hit hard by the harsh economic situation facing Barbados. 
President of the Barbados Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (BBFF), Dr Andrew Forde, told Nation Sport that things have been tough this year and they have had major cut backs.
“The hard economic times have impacted on the quality and finished product of the athletes. The numbers were expected to be a lot larger at last month’s Nationals but many of them fell by the wayside over nutrition,” he said.
“It happened to some of the juniors due to difficulties their parents had economically and to the seniors who just couldn’t do what was necessary to have the right diet to be competitive.”
Economic challenges
Forde said some athletes who appeared on stage at the Nationals had dropped out for a short time and came back when the funding became available, and they were others who just didn’t look the part because of various other economic challenges.
The president noted that the situation was definitely a lot worse than it had been in the past, with very little sponsorship opportunities for the association and individual bodybuilders.
He added that, on average, an athlete might spend $1 000 a month on food and depending on the weight and their nutritional requirements they could use up to $2 500 a month.
Forde, who has been the BABFF boss for the past four years, said the lack of funding had also forced the federation to cut back on the number of overseas trips this year.
“We haven’t been able to do the Junior World Championships, and the [Organisation of] Eastern Caribbean States Championships did not come off this year since most of the other countries were facing a similar economic situation.”
The president also said that the federation turned its back on the World Championships this year since the cost per athlete went to between $10 000 and $15 000.
He revealed that other regional countries were also facing a similar problem and had been sending smaller teams to regional and international championships.
The CAC Championships in Aruba next week will cost the association $60 000 to take a reduced contingent, with each airline ticket costing about $1 250, he added.
“It is expected to be a very inexperienced team and one that will face a serious challenge in Aruba,” he said.  
Forde noted that although more than 18 countries were expected to be at the CAC Championships, only those countries close to Aruba would be sending full teams.
The president also noted that the sport had taken a beating from recent positive drug tests.
“The bad result with one individual seems to taint all the other good athletes we have and that’s the perception that we continue to fight against,” he said.
One of Barbados’ top bodybuilders, William Prescott, the 2010 Mr Barbados, echoed Forde’s sentiments, revealing that a week before the competition he was actually going to quit but he managed to get a sponsor at the last minute.
He said that 15 years ago getting sponsorship was a far easier task than it was now.
Lack of funding
“[For example,] a two-pound bottle of protein powder – I could go through that in a couple of days. You can imagine every four or five days I have got to be spending $70 to get protein powder?
“We have to get the money to support the diet, and if you don’t have the money, you can find yourself eating poor-quality protein that has in a lot of fat and you don’t want that.”
The Ocean 2 Gym representative identified lack of funding as one of the main reasons why the numbers competing were dwindling.
“You have a guy who is out there with a family and working hard all day, he is going to be thinking twice about taking that hard-earned money, to put it into bodybuilding,” Prescott added.