Only standing room was available at the National Cultural Centre (NCC) on Saturday evening (August 24th) when the Saint Lucia Amateur Bodybuilding and Fitness Association (SLABBFA) held the National Bodybuilding Championship. Despite other events on the same date which attracted hundreds of patrons, the championship was well attended by a number of bodybuilding enthusiasts.
The evening’s showpiece can best be described as thrilling and entertaining and one of the best in years organized by the SLABBFA.
On the night, one man stood tall and that is Joneil Pelage. As such, he has been deemed the VOICE’s “Athlete of the Week”.
The evening of August 24th was one of many changes. Last year’s defending champion St George Prospere did not enter this year’s championship; Joneil Pelage who won the Intermediate division last year, stepped up to the Senior division for the first time and immediately stamped his authority by not only winning the National Bodybuilding title; he also placed ahead of last year’s second place finisher Orville James from Sidonie’s Brother’s Gym. Also on the night, Pelage went on to capture the Champion of Champions pose down title.
He had all the qualities the panel of judges was looking for – Chest and triceps, hamstrings and glutes, biceps and abs, back and shoulders and calves and quadriceps. Quite frankly, Pelage was the total package.
Pelage is a resident from the community of La Caye, Dennery, and he is currently employed at the Financial Administrative Center in Pointe Seraphine. He has been involved in the sport of bodybuilding for three years.
He spoke with the VOICE about his career and how his training has evolved as he’s gotten older: “It feels great, particularly as this is my first title in the Senior category,” he said. “I gave it my all; the discipline, my diet. It was very challenging. I just had the right mind set.”
In terms of the competition Pelage said, “What I saw backstage, the other competitors looked really good this year. I was nervous. Interestingly, instead of encouraging myself; I encouraged them to go out there and give their best and I just sat there wondering if I would pull through. I went out and did my best and I got the strength from the crowd, my family calling my name and supporters from the La Borde’s Gym that gave me the encouragement.
“I will be back to defend my title next year hopefully,” he added. “I am the type of individual who really likes competition and as long as there will be better competitors, I am going to be there. This is what keeps me motivated and gives me the drive to become better every year.”
He continued, “Back in 2017 at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC), I used to be a very good long distance runner. I represented SALCC at the Inter School Road Race during that same year where I collapsed and was hospitalized for a while. I was very disappointed at the time; I felt my world was falling apart because I really wanted to be an athlete”.
Pelage started seeing a cardiologist every other week, and after some time he expressed to his doctor his desire to get back to running.
“I could not take on the stress as it was taking a toll on me. He asked me to join a gym, walk on the treadmill and build my strength gradually. I did that then I tried weight lifting and I immediately fell in love with it when I saw how quickly my body started developing. The owner of La Borde’s Gym, Mrs La Borde asked me to try bodybuilding in 2017, which I did. I entered the Novice division and placed second. Two of us were in the competition.”
Pelage said, ‘I felt placing second out of two people was the same as coming last, and that is what gave me the encouragement to go up in 2018 and participate in the Intermediate division, which I won. Again I felt encouraged by everyone including my Trainer Dale Leon and Mrs La Borde, and here I am, I conquered again”.
Still today Pelage credits bodybuilding for the overall recovery from his past experience.
“It really helped me a lot,” he said. “Going to the Gym releases stress, something as basic as the flu going to the gym allows me to get rid of it.”
Pelage made sure to thank Dr. Romiel Daniel (Cardiologist) who encouraged him to join the gym, “Here I am today,” he said happily.”
When asked if he would choose bodybuilding or men’s physique if he was just starting out today, Pelage responded: “I’d still do bodybuilding.”