SINGAPORE - The Singapore bodybuilding scene may have endured setback after setback in recent years, but the World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Association Singapore (WBPF-SG) is taking small steps to revive the ailing sport.
It will be holding the 12th South-east Asian Championships at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre on June 13.
The association is led by Dennis Tew, a 32-year-old gym owner who was formerly the national bodybuilding coach from 2004 to 2007.
Established a decade ago, WBPF-SG was formerly known as the Young Men Bodybuilding Association before undergoing a name change in January.
National bodybuilder Joan Liew is glad to see the sport spark into life once again, saying: "At least there are groups making an effort to start something for the sport."
Of the other three bodybuilding associations in Singapore - Bodybuilding Singapore, Singapore Bodybuilding Federation (SBBF) and Singapore Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness (SFBF) - both SBBF and SFBF are now dormant.
The SBBF was stripped of its National Sport Association (NSA) status last October after Sport Singapore, the national agency, cited instances of doping at the national championships and other governance matters.
Bodybuilding Singapore, formed in 2012 and led by 48-year-old Kevin Chiak, tried to fill the vacuum left by SBBF.
It held a successful inaugural national championships and crowned its first Mr Singapore last year in front of 400 passionate spectators at the NUS University Cultural Centre.
However, a Sport Singapore spokesman said the last time any bodybuilding federation contacted them about gaining NSA status was "in the middle of last year".
Bodybuilders whom The Sunday Times spoke to agreed that the lack of major competitions is hampering the development of athletes.
"It's a waste that many talented bodybuilders in Singapore are deprived of the chance to venture overseas and learn from athletes elsewhere," lamented 60-year-old Augustine Lee, who won the middleweight gold at the 1997 SEA Games.
"And now, it is difficult for athletes to choose a particular federation to align themselves to, as there are different restrictions preventing them from participating in as many events as they can."
Added personal trainer Chua Jun Wen, 33, who also competes in bodybuilding tournaments: "The sports now doesn't seem important now on the regional stage too compared to last time, and it's a shame."
At the moment, both Bodybuilding Singapore and WBPF-SG indicated they are holding back on applying to fill the vacant NSA spot when contacted by the Sunday Times.
The former cites their inability to align themselves to a particular international body - a requisite when applying to be a NSA - while the latter is focused on organising events for now.
This article was first published on June 1, 2014.
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