Bodybuilding competition hoping to pack Weldon Saturday
by Robert Joseph Baker | September 28, 2017 9:58 am
Weldon Auditorium will be busy all day Saturday as bodybuilders from throughout the state and region compete for a chance at a professional berth in a larger competition.
The South Carolina chapter of the National Physique Committee Southern Tournament of Champions, the largest amateur bodybuilding organization in the world, is hosting two sessions on Saturday, with the first at 9 a.m. and the second at 5 p.m.
“The morning session will be prejudging and the preliminary rounds of judging the athlete, which includes men and women,” said Joe Pishkula. “The evening finals will be at 5 p.m., where athletes get to do their individual presentations and entertain the crowds.”
Pishkula said the organization chose Weldon due to its central location in the state and due to its friendly staff and surroundings.
“The wonderful staff that is there basically sold us on the place,” he said. “It’s a beautiful venue and a beautiful place for a contest.”
Pishkula said Saturday’s competition features separate classes for the athletes, including traditional body building, bikini, figure and fitness.
“Physique is judge on size, shape, symmetry, proportion and conditioning,” he said. “Those factors are what determine how the other athletes place on stage.”
He said the organization expects more than 100 athletes in the show.
“Right now, as of (Tuesday), we’re in the low hundreds,” he said. “We will probably end up with between 150 an 160 in the show. For the first year of this show in this area, that’s a great turnout.”
Pishkula said he enjoys promoting shows in smaller cities and towns in the state.
“It doesn’t get lost in the bigger cities, and there’s something for the town to kind of get behind,” he said. “We do shows in Columbia or Charleston, and the show gets a little bit lost in the other events of the town. Manning is also right off Interstate 95, and you have Florence, Charleston, Columbia and Myrtle Beach nearby. It’s central to all of them. So, we expect to have a nice crowd.”
Pishkula said that three local hotels are already full of competitors due to reservations.
“Our host hotel is the Hampton Inn, and that one sold out relatively quickly,” he siad. “A lot of people then went to the Howard Johnson and the Days Inn. Those will be filled with competitors.”
He said Porter Jacks is the official restaurant.
“We will have an afterparty there for our athletes on Saturday night, and we hope they’re ready to feed a lot of hungry body builders,” he said.
Saturday’s competition, he said, serves as a national qualifier.
“This is one of our national qualifiers,” he said. “Ultimately, an athlete can go through to the national, become a professional and win Mr. Olympia and the IFBB Proleague.”
He said those competing are about a 60-40 split for women to men.
“We get people of all ages,” he said. “We have people start as teens and compete, and we have bodybuilders and women’s competitors in their 70s. And they will all be there.”
Saturday morning’s show is $25 for admission to the general public, and the evening show is $35 for the general public.