CHARLOTTTETOWN – Prince Edward Island will host a national qualifier competition for P.E.I. athletes to compete in the sport of bikini, figure, physique and bodybuilding.
This will be the first competition hosted on P.E.I. for its own athletes in almost two decades.
No one knows the history of these past competitions any better than Summerside resident Ernie Heckbert.
Heckbert began competing in bodybuilding at age 22 and just a few years ago stepped on stage in Moncton, N.B. for his last competition at age 79.
Heckbert will once again be stepping on stage during the evening Finals Show on March 22 at the P.E.I. Brewing Company.
This time around Heckbert, now 82, will be the first recipient of receive the Prince Edward Island Fitness and Physique Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
Heckbert has been statistically given the Canadian title as the oldest bodybuilder in Canada. It's been 60 plus years that he has been pumping iron.
He has been featured in Canadian fitness magazines.
“The association could not have anyone more deserving of this award than Ernie Heckbert,” said Josh Rioux, PEIFPA president. “His dedication, determination, admiration and loyalty to the sport of bodybuilding on Prince Edward Island, throughout the Maritimes and Canada has been and will be second to none. We are very honoured Ernie is the first recipient of this prestigious award.”
The P.E.I. competition will also include an additional award from other provincial competitions, a special "Transformation" class for people that have may have an extraordinary journey to get on stage.
“We have some people already that have registered with 150 plus pounds weight loss, and on the total other side of spectrum we have a policeman that was hit by a car and lost his career, left with a cane and told he would never walk or run again,” Rioux said. “He now is in shape and has no cane after two-plus years of training and rehab. We know those attending will see some very interesting stories arise.”
Many athletes from local gyms in Summerside and across P.E.I. are training to compete in this competition in hopes of making it to the national stage in Winnipeg this summer. “The association is looking forward to sending its biggest P.E.I. team to Nationals,” Rioux said.”
Cory Arsenault of Summerside and Paul Burnley of Bedeque are two past local bodybuilders returning to the stage. International Federation of Bodybuilding pro Santana Anderson and IFBB pro Leah Johnson, from Halifax will be guest posers. Anderson will also be the MC. Former Summerside native Samantha Rioux, who is the first and only IFBB pro in P.E.I., will be heading the judging panel of six.
It is the goal of the association to send P.E.I. athletes to compete at the national level by winning under the rules and guidelines set forth by the Canadian Bodybuilding Federation.
The morning pre-judging competition begins at 10 a.m. with tickets ($15) only available at the door.
The evening finals championships begin at 6 p.m. with tickets ($35) available for purchase at Stretch Fitness in Summerside and the P.E.I. Brewing Company in Charlottetown.
“We are expecting a sell out crowd,” Rioux said.
The doors to the event room will open at 5 p.m.
For more information go to www.peifpa.com.