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Dill reclaims crown after late entry

Winner's circle: Dill, centre right, and the rest of the champions pose with their trophies at CedarBridge Academy. (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

JaVaughn Dill was mobbed by his supporters as he proudly strutted towards the backstage exit of the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium with the national men’s bodybuilding trophy clutched firmly in his hand.

It was the SeaView Ultimate Fitness Club athlete’s fourth “Mr Bermuda” title and the beaming smile on his face perhaps best summed up how much it meant to reclaim the coveted prize during Bermuda Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation’s 29th Night of Champions at CedarBridge Academy on Saturday night.

“I have reclaimed the trophy to bring it back to SeaView Gym,” Dill said.

The athlete’s reign at the top was interrupted last year after losing to Devon Bean, the former Olympic sprinter.

Bean was unable to defend his title this year because of his commitments at the Olympics in Rio as Bermuda’s athletic coach while Dill’s moment of glory almost never happened.

“I actually wasn’t going to do the show,” Dill said. “I have started a new general maintenance business and so I have been pretty busy.

“My family has also taken up my time, and so I have had a lot to deal with.

“I just decided at the last minute to the do the show and Ross Caesar (SeaView Ultimate Fitness Club and multiple Mr Bermuda) helped me get in shape and here I am, ‘Mr Bermuda’ 2016.”

Claiming the biggest prize up for grabs among female competitors was Melissa Smith, of Beast Gym, who walked away with the national women’s physique title at the first attempt after beating out the likes of Susan Rebello, the three-times national women’s bodybuilding champion and Central American and Caribbean Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships gold medal-winner.

“Susan Rebello is an awesome competitor and I knew I had to bring it on stage just to get a shot at the title and it just worked,” Smith, who won two medals as a sprinter at the NatWest Island Games, said.

“I just knew that if I did everything my posing coach told me and I executed on stage I could definitely give it a go. But you still have to bring your ‘A’ game and I definitely give credit to my track career which helped me to stay focused.

“I worked and worked and worked and it all paid off. This is my first show and I am still in shock right now.”

Also in a state of shock was Smith’s Beast Gym stablemate Bernard Opoku, who completed an impressive hat-trick after capturing the overall men’s physique title for the third straight year.

“I am surprised and ecstatic with mixed emotions,” Opoku said. “It was amazing.

“It’s just been a lot of hard work and dedication, and I’m just happy it’s all paid off again this year.

“It was some tough competition up here. My class was really tough this year that you could see that it [the title] could go to anyone. There were a lot of newcomers that came up there, showed their best stuff and put me under pressure.”

Placing herself on the verge of a hat-trick of her own was Tresca Trott, of Beast Gym, who retained her overall national women’s figure crown.

“It was nerve-racking and a lot of work,” Trott, who celebrated her triumph by treating herself to a brownie backstage, said.

“My preparations were a lot different than last year. I really focused heavily on my weak areas and I was actually prepping for another competition that I didn’t get ready for in time. It’s been a long haul but it has paid off.”

Candy-Lee Foggo, the Bermuda Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation president, chalked up Saturday’s well-attended event as another success.

“We were full so the turnout was good,” she said. “I think it went very well in terms of the flow of the show while the competitors raised the standard to a different level.”