No money but plenty of glory from bodybuilders, says Kumareswarren

Malaysian bodybuilders grabbed the limelight with a stunning performance at the just concluded 14th World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championships in Oak Valley Resort, Wonju City, Gangwon Province, South Korea.

Datuk Syarul Azman Mahen Abdullah clinched his sixth world title in the Men’s Athletic Physique – up to 167cm category. Syarul’s previous wins were in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2022.

Sarawakians Dr Malvern Abdullah won a silver medal in the Men’s Athletic Physique (up to 160cm), and Philomena Dexclyn Siar clinched two bronze medals in the Women’s Sport Physique (up to 165cm) and Women’s Ladies Sport Physique (age 35 and above) categories.

Another Malaysian, R. Kumareswarren, won silver in the Men’s Heavyweight category (up to 100kg) – his first medal for the country.

“Bodybuilding is a niche sport, but it has contributed more medals for the country than popular sports like football, hockey, and badminton,” said Kumareswarren, who won the Mr Malaysia 2023 title last month.

“We have Asian and world champions and have been winning for many, many years.

“Unfortunately, it does not catch the eye of sponsors. The national body (Malaysian Body Building Federation) takes care of our flight, registration, and accommodation, but for everything else, we have to fork out our own money.”

He hopes that the recent performances in South Korea would go some way towards popularising the sport and open the eyes of corporate sponsors.

Kumareswarren, who operates a gym, said this was his second time representing the country, and he was delighted to have contributed a medal.

“I started preparing for the event in March and had to be meticulous with my food and training,” said Kumareswarren, who packs food when he attends any functions as he has to watch his diet.

“All the sacrifices were worth it as I won a silver. I hope to do better next year and win gold, as I want the crowd to hear Negaraku (the Malaysian national anthem) during the competition.

“I will continue my training regime. It never stops. Hopefully, I can talk about winning a gold medal next year.”

Over 300 athletes from 39 countries and territories competed in the 51 categories in South Korea, with India, Mongolia, and Vietnam finishing in the top three of the medal tally.