Veterans trump the rookies at the Night of Champions
The 24th annual Bermuda Bodybuilding Federation's (BBBF) Night of Champions was held to much fanfare on Saturday night at the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium.
The ample theatre was filled to the hilt for this annual celebration of fitness and splendour of the human form.
A field of veterans and newcomers vied for titles in fitness, figure fitness, and bodybuilding, with four major titles up for grabs and two awards for overall artistry of form.
Both female titles were available this year, as last year's winners chose not to compete this time around. Sue Rebello left her Ms Bermuda title vacant, while Betty Doyling let her one year reign as Ms Figure Fitness become the stuff of legend.
On the male side, however, Garwin Phillips was back to defend his Mr Bermuda crown, and defend it he did! Of course, in a game where size does matter, Mr Phillips was always going to be the favourite against a field of bantamweights, lightweights, and middleweights.
Although the male field was rounded out by a former two-time Mr Bermuda (Jeftha Miller), and two other veteran bodybuilders (JaVaughn Dill and De-Von Bean), once Mr Phillips flexed his muscle (literally!), the outcome was very much a foregone conclusion.
Not that the other male contestants weren't impressive; they were quite impressive indeed. Mr Phillips was simply on another level; downright imperious! Now that we've discussed the obligatory details of the male competition, let's get to the ladies shall we?
The women's field was much wider than the men's, but was still dominated by veteran competitors in the end. Perennial Ms Fitness Caroly Erasmus retained her title by default as she was the only competitor.
Her finals routine was a rigorous combination of body planks, one-arm push-ups, and high-energy aerobic movement, making it very clear that she fully deserved to be named Ms Fitness Bermuda once again.
The Ms Bermuda crown was contested by just two ladies. Veteran Jacquelyn Jackson deployed impressive musculature to overcome exciting newcomer Kara Gibbons for the women's bodybuilding title.
Ms Jackson, who garnered massive support from the capacity crowd when it was revealed that she will be turning 50 soon, also won the women's prize for Best Artistic Poser.
The Figure Fitness category was, in many ways, the most competitive. A dozen bikini-clad fitness beauties marched across the stage on Saturday night, and by the end of the night, there were four class winners vying for the title of Ms Figure Fitness Bermuda.
First time competitor and fitness professional Tania Degiorgio won the Class A prize (5ft 2in and under). Forty-two-year-old newcomer and mother-of-four (yes, you heard right) Sabrina Burgess took the honours in Class B (5ft 4in).
Thirty-six-year-old mother-of-two Tania Kowalski held off strong competition to win Class C (5ft 6in). Class D (5ft 8in and over) rounded out the Figure Fitness competition, and was snatched up by veteran competitor and former overall champion Ranae Cann.
By the time the four class winners were returned to the stage to make their final argument to be the overall champion, Mrs Burgess had become a strong crowd favourite.
Ranae Cann, however, had a champion's heart on her side, and showed her pedigree by taking her fourth overall Ms Figure Fitness Bermuda title.
De-Von Bean captured the male Best Artistic Poser award, and indicated his determination to return for the crown next year through his visible disappointment when Garwin Phillips was announced Mr Bermuda for another year.
He wasn't appalled, and he didn't make an ugly scene; he just let out a heavy sigh that most observant folks would recognise as mild frustration, and a strong desire to turn things around at some point. Maybe next year?
The evening's entertainment was all fitness-related, and the Bermuda Gymnastics Association, Magnum Power Force Crew, and young kung-fu practitioner Kaelin Cox absolutely delighted the crowd with their respective performances.
Another notable moment of the 2011 Night of Champions was the touching tribute to former competitor Scott Lauder, who died suddenly last winter.
Mr Lauder was a rising star on the local fitness scene, and a much loved and admired athlete, both locally and internationally.
The tribute was presented in the form of a slide show during the early proceedings, and later on in the evening, Dion Smith, Mr Lauder's best friend and work-out partner, would present the inaugural Scott Lauder Memorial Cup to Garwin Phillips; a very classy touch by the BBBF.
In the end, this was another successful event executed by the BBBF.
The event was hosted by the excellent Wendell Dill, presided over by BBBF president Candy-Lee Foggo, and lent a measure of prestige by the presence of Government Ministers the Honourable Neletha Butterfield, Dame Jennifer Smith, and the Honourable Walter Roban who all presented awards to the winners.
All in attendance enjoyed the show, and our Ministers revelled in their respective roles; nicely done.