Muscling in on success

SALE Memorial Hall was awash with spray tans and medallions, with men and women of all ages competing for the inaugural Gippsland Classic title.

Close to 200 people turned out to the bodybuilding championships on Saturday, with more than 60 entries across several categories. 

With good local support for the first Gippsland Classic, promoters hope it may become an annual event.

Event promoter Dee Barbas described the atmosphere as “buzzing”.

“I couldn’t be happier with how it has all panned out,” she said.

“Next year is something we’re already starting to think about, though I’d like a week or two’s reprieve.”

Competitors travelled from all over Victoria to attend this regional event on the International Natural Bodybuilding Association calendar, the first to be held east of Melbourne.

The INBA provided world-class judges, including former Mr and Miss Universe winners, and ensured an independent ASADA representative was present.

“INBA’s very proud to be natural,” Dee said.

Judging involved different categories, mainly split between traditional bodybuilding, and the more athletic figure.

The aim, according to Dee, was still to impress with aesthetics and symmetry.

“It looks like basically they’ve chucked on a lot of tan and a nice bikini and walked on stage, but that’s all they’ve got to show,” she said.

“They can’t show all the hours in the gym, they can’t show how strict the diet was, you don’t see that part of it, you just see that beautiful end result on stage.”

Barbas said the local contingent stood out against the competition.

Louis Armitage won the men’s teenager and the open bodybuilding, with Troy Carstairs in second, and Harry Burge took out the men’s junior bodybuilding.

Natalie Clarke scored second in the women’s novice figure, and sisters Heidi and Sarah Vranek both distinguished themselves in bikini and Ms Fitness model categories respectively.

Co-event promoter Rod Barbas, owner of Sale Health and Fitness, was also proud of all of the local competitors. 

“They each did themselves and Sale Health and Fitness proud. They are an inspiration to everyone in the gym” he said.

Rod thanked the local competitors, many of them competing in their first event, for their hard work and dedication.

Many of the out-of-town competitors were supportive in their feedback, according to Dee.

“The competitors were really wonderful, they were pleasantly surprised,” she said.

“They were thinking for a country show, it wouldn’t be as professionally or as smoothly run, but all of them have come back saying we absolutely had a ball, country people were really friendly.”

The Gippsland Classic was also a pro qualifier, which means winners can go on to compete at the next level against professional competition.

“The competitors were rapt, and I think next year the word of mouth will get out,” Dee said.