On June 6, bodybuilding and fitness competitions officially made their return to the United States. The NPC Battle of the Bodies contest was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This show was the first contest held since the nationwide shutdowns began in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Numerous athletes from around the country ventured to the Midwest to be a part of the 2020 season’s return and showcase their physiques for the judges. The organizers had audience members spread throughout the seating areas while the athletes were screened and questioned before being allowed to compete.
The overall bodybuilding winner was super-heavyweight Chase Carlson of San Diego, California. Another winner of this show was the bikini winner, Sarah Dendy of Houston, Texas. Dendy, who is a physician in her area, felt the organizers did their part in maintaining safety and offering a positive show experience for fans and athletes.
She spoke with BarBend about what it was like to compete at a show in a post-pandemic situation.
“As an Emergency Medicine physician, I have a unique perspective on the COVID-19 outbreak and the harsh realities of the disease. Eileen Calabrese [show promoter] and NPC Oklahoma did a great job of adjusting to the abnormal circumstances. The audience was adequately spaced out and the backstage area was very large so the athletes had a lot of room. However, we are adults and we chose to come together to participate in a sport that we love. I can’t explain how great it felt just to be around other people, giving hugs and laughing. The past few months have been anxiety ridden for all of us, whether personally, professionally, or financially, and this was a great release.”
Dendy obviously made the most out of her preparation and traveling since she is leaving as her division’s champion. She also spoke about the victory and leaving with the sword which served as the show’s trophy.
“As far as my win, it was incredible and it means more than any sword or public recognition ever could. Prior preps were physically harder as I was new to the sport and didn’t know what to expect. But prepping through the uncertainty of the shutdown was mentally the hardest thing I have ever done. We all say to have internal motivation and dedication, but often that is accompanied by an end goal in sight. When the target becomes vague or even invisible, you have to dig deeper than you thought you could go. In just the two seasons I have competed in the NPC, this sport has brought me extreme personal growth that is not always evident from the outside looking in. Cliché- but find your “why”, pursue it with fervor, and you will never lose.”
Other winners from this past weekend included men’s physique champion Kevin Curnyn, Joe Long in classic physique, and Figure open winner Kelly Sherl. There are six more competitions that are scheduled to take place next weekend throughout the country including in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Utah, and Tennessee.
The IFBB Pro League portion of the bodybuilding schedule will resume at the end of July, starting with the Tampa Pro at the end of July. The current season will conclude in December with the 2020 Olympia being held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Featured Image: Instagram/sarahdendy_