Midlands train derails at Zim National finals

HARARE – The pre-Zim National Muscle and Fitness Championships period was hectic with the men from the Midlands pumping iron into their locomotives destined for Harare.

They were busier than the famed Dabuka railway exchange in Gweru, the only electric railway exchange in the country popular back in the early 1990s. 

But like what has been left of Dabuka which is just but a shell, because of years of decay, the Midlands train was short-circuited and instead of the electric locomotive, they used the steam one for the bodybuilding finals.

Some wagons came off along the way and they arrived in just a batch with only Solomon Sihlokwe, Prestone Chamunorwa and Muchineripi Katena getting to the stage.

Famed for being the home of champions because of the past winners at the national finals from the province, Midlands was buoyed ahead of the finals.

However, some of their bodybuilders, who were billed to participate, pulled out at the last minute leaving only three with two of them coming out second and third respectively. 

Trainer at Muscle and Fitness gym in Gweru, Alice Hunyenyiwa was, however, upbeat despite things not having gone according to script for the province.

“This was a competition and in a competition it’s not all about coming out first but also just being there and learning something,” she told the Daily News on Sunday.

“We could not send a full complement of our athletes but I am extremely happy with the guys that went on stage, Solomon and Prestone.

“They flew our flag high as Muscle and Fitness. We derive lessons from their participation and in fact the team is continuing training for the finals next year.

“We respect the other athletes that won this year but for next year, we are coming back stronger to reclaim what is ours.”  

Chamunorwa who came third in the men’s physique up to and including 176cm conquered with Hunyenyiwa saying he is not losing heart.

“Look, this was a close contest, respect to other athletes but I noted some aspects that will make me win this one next year,” Chamunorwa said.

“These are the things that I am working on now going into next year’s event. Coming third is not bad either it shows I’m in the right direction.”

Sihlokwe, who came a distant fifth in the senior men bodybuilding up to and including 75kg, is unfazed by the positioning and vowed to come back stronger. 

“Winners never quit, without determination you won’t succeed. I am in this sport to win so I am going to prepare even harder and come back stronger next year,” he said.

“I used to travel with Sugar (Isaac Chimuchenga) and there were times he wouldn’t do well but he would go back to the gym and prepare harder and ended up being the champion.

“So I am going to do the same, recharge my batteries. To the winners this year, I say congratulations but watch out for Solomon Sihlokwe next year.”

Even when other companies closed in the City of Progress at the height of the economic meltdown, Muscle and Fitness Gym has kept on producing.

Its conveyor belts have rolled out national champions such as four-time Mr Zimbabwe Givemore Marume, who hailed from Mkoba in Gweru.

Three-time Mr Zim Champion Chienderamwano from Kwekwe and Mr Zim winner Paul Goredema are also from Muscle and Fitness Gym.

Munashe Matandirotya and Upenyu Mhlauro, Chimuchenga,  Sandra Ncube, Simba Fero and a host of other bodybuilders came through the production line of the gym situated in Gweru’s industrial site.

Other household names to have come through Muscle and Fitness include Nigel Maphosa , Eddie  Mutero, Tapiwa Sibanda, Prosper Mugariwa and Enoch Mugariwa.

For the owners of the gym, the VannGopals, they have rendered a lot to the Gweru community.

The gym has been very successful in producing bodybuilders who have gone on to leave a mark not only in the country but also in the region as well.

And with very minimal action at the popular Dabuka Railway Exchange in Gweru these days, Muscle and Fitness Gym is the only shunting and shuttling of iron that can be heard loudly in the city.

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