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Siem Reap gearing up for a feast of beefcake

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Amateur bodybuilder I Load grimaces during training for the upcoming Angkor Bodybuiding Championships. GEORGE NICKELS

Siem Reap gearing up for a feast of beefcake

Cambodia’s bodybuilders are getting pumped up for the fifth annual Angkor Bodybuilding Association [ABBA] championships to be held in Siem Reap next weekend.

Choeun Vichet, the association’s spokesman, said that with more contestants expected to compete this year, the competition was going to be beefier than ever.

“Last year, we got 70 contestants, and now with 50 contestants already registered, we hope to get even more,” he said earlier this week. “We are expecting at least 100 contestants and hundreds of fans to turn up.”

The purpose of the competition was to promote bodybuilding as a sport, raise money for charity and promote sport and exercise, he said.

Competitors have 60 seconds to show off their sculpted muscles in choreographed routines set to music. The winner will pick up a $6,500 first prize.

Along with the competition, there will also be live music from the 1980s, demonstrations of Apsara dancing and bokator martial arts and a lucky draw.

Most of the competitors were from Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, but there were also contestants from other provinces including Banteay Meanchey and Battambang, Vichet said.

I Load, a 32-year-old bodybuilder from Siem Reap, said he had been training for six years and entered the competition before but never won.

“This year, I will try my best to win this competition,” he said.

Load said bodybuilding wasn’t just about having a ripped body.

“It is good to be healthy and encourage other people to do sport and exercise,” he said.

While the competition is men-only, that could change at next year’s competition.

“We are considering having women join our competition,” said Vichet. “But we cannot promise it will happen next year, because most of the women are still too shy to show off their bodies on stage.”

ABBA was formed in June 2001 by a group of professional and amateur bodybuilders.

The fifth Angkor Body Building Championship will be held on August 15 at Paul Dubrule Ecole on National Road 6. Entrance is free.

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