Bodybuilding: Strain and pain pay off for local bodybuilders

Doing the country proud at the Asian championships in Bhutan were (from left) Danial Bawany, winner of the men's physique category, Nurhasilah Rohaizat, Madeleine Png and 60-year-old Dollah Jaafar.
Doing the country proud at the Asian championships in Bhutan were (from left) Danial Bawany, winner of the men's physique category, Nurhasilah Rohaizat, Madeleine Png and 60-year-old Dollah Jaafar.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

For the four Singaporean athletes who took part at the 50th Asian Bodybuilding & Physique Sports Championships from Aug 30 to Sept 5 in Bhutan, it was not just getting onto the stage and performing a few poses.

While all four won at least a medal - the first time every athlete in a Singapore contingent had done so - their paths to glory were filled with tough struggles.

For 32-year-old Nurhasilah Rohaizat, it was her first international competition. The SilkAir flight attendant has had to balance irregular working hours with her strict training and dietary regimens.

"I normally have to break my training sessions. If I've got an evening flight, I have to train in the morning; if I have a flight in the morning, I would have to train late at night," said Nurhasilah, who even has two stewardess uniforms of different sizes for off-peak and competition periods.

When she is not training, she has to cope with the nutritional demands of bodybuilding, eating six to eight meals at two-hour intervals each day, even while serving passengers on the flight.

"I don't have the luxury of sitting down and eating, so I always have to cut my food into small pieces and pop food into my mouth while working," said Nurhasilah, who wakes up as early as 3am to prepare her meals before work.

"That's the worst part to be honest. And when flights get really busy I really don't have time to eat.

"But I have very supportive colleagues who understand that I need to eat, so sometimes they would say, 'It's okay we'll do your job, you just sit down and eat first'."

Her efforts paid off when she won a silver in women's model physique category, and she hopes she could be a good example to other career women who want a good physique as well.

"I want to be a trend-setter. I want to tell all mothers and all career women to make time (to exercise), and if you don't make time, at least eat good," she said.

Besides Nurhasilah's medal, Singapore also won a gold (Danial Bawany in men's physique category), a silver (Dollah Jaafar in the masters) and a bronze (Madeleine Png in the women's model physique).

Said 22-year-old Bawany: "The competition was extremely tough, and when I saw the athletes back stage I felt as though all hope was lost.

"I got extremely emotional when I was declared the winner. It was quite a far-fetched dream to have my national anthem being played, with all the athletes and delegates standing up for your anthem, and me up on stage singing it with nothing but pride."

For 60-year-old Dollah, however, the passion for the sport is what drives him on for so many years.

"Sometimes I forget that I'm 60 when I'm working out - I enjoy it so much that it is the passion that you have for the sport that spurs you further," he said.

Nicola Chew

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2016, with the headline 'Strain and pain pay off for local bodybuilders'. Print Edition | Subscribe