The SportLab modeling contest - brainchild of SportLab CEO Trent Hinde - exploded onto the Canadian fitness scene and within a year is now enormously popular.
Despite the fact that the London 2005 contest was only the second SportLab Model Search contest to date, increasing popularity demanded the addition of a male category.
As a contest judge, I sat down before judging and asked myself the one question that would determine how I scored the contest:
Size Or Symmetry?
The tension amongst the male competitors was high because they, too, were worried about how they'd be scored. Would big men dominate? Would size trump conditioning/symmetry and hard work? Could the smaller athlete win?
Then I realized that another question was actually more important:
Who Had The Heart To Win?
Truth be told, I wasn't interested in simply giving the highest score to the biggest man on stage - bodybuilder or not. All too often, larger competitors - "contest crashers" - show up at contests only minutes before the first callout, driven by the misguided notion that they'll win - just because they're big.
Often, these "contest shoppers" don't care about the contest objectives or even the contests name - they're just out to get the goodies so they can go off to another contest and do the same.
I resolved to judge the contest on the basis of desire, conditioning, and size - in that order. I wasn't interested in letting someone win just because of size, and I wasn't going to reward a competitor if his heart wasn't 100% in the contest - even if his conditioning was phenomenal. No.
To win, a competitor had to have the heart - the desire to win this contest. A contract was up for grabs - it was all on the line.
It was obvious immediately who the "contest crashers" were and who they were not. One competitor - a bodybuilder - continued to hit bodybuilding poses even as I leaned over to an agreeing Paul Dillett and said "this guy's at the wrong contest."
When each man came before the judging panel, he didn't just put his body on display - he put his character and desire for victory for all to see.
The competition was fierce, and bigger men fell in all rounds while smaller and more conditioned athletes placed and advanced. In the end, three men with the right combination of heart, conditioning, and size stood victorious - and one was first among them.
Tia Keov - a first-time competitor and industry newcomer - placed first. As the pictures show, Tia wasn't the largest competitor in size, but his conditioning was excellent and he had the right combination of enthusiasm, desire, conditioning, and symmetry to prove to the judges that he was deserving of first place.
I sat down with him and interviewed him after his well-fought victory.
[ Q ] Congratulations on your victory. Let's start things off by telling the readers where you were born and when.
A: I was born in a small little town called
Red Deer in Alberta, Canada on January 8th, 1983.
[ Q ] How tall are you and what's your contest and off-season weight?
A: I'm 5' 5½", but with my hair spiked up and shoes, I'm about 5' 7". My contest off-season weight is 165 lbs throughout the year. I competed at the show at 158 lbs.
[ Q ] Where are you from?
A: I'm originally from Red Deer, Alberta, but I'm living in Toronto.
[ Q ] Do you have any brothers/sisters?
A: Yes, I have 3 sisters, so I had to wake up extra early in the morning if I wanted to get the washroom!
[ Q ] What is your contest history?
A: The Sportlab Model Search was my first contest, so I guess you can say Sportlab took my contest virginity.... and it was great!
[ Q ] What got you started in fitness and athletics?
A: Well, when I was 14, I got involved with a bad crowd and got my head beaten in with a
baseball bat. My parents enrolled me into martial arts so that I could learn to defend myself. It was during my
martial arts training that I learned self discipline, and I was awakened to a new lifestyle.
Needless to say I started training everyday and got away - very far away - from the bad crowd. Since then, health and fitness have been a part of my daily life.
[ Q ] What keeps you motivated to keep training hard and eating right?
A: I'm actually not sure what keeps me
motivated to keep on training and eating right. I just do it. I wake up every day, and I know it's something I have to do; It's a part of my life and I know it will always be. It's my lifestyle - my way of life.
[ Q ] What does your supplementation plan look like during the year, and also before you go into a show?
A: Throughout the year I always have my
protein. It doesn't really change much from Jan to Dec. I use
creatine, and before going into a show I'll use a
thermogenic [fat burner] to help me get shredded.
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[ Q ] What kind of training routine do you follow?
A: I change it up every so often. Right now, I'm doing a Power Adaptation routine where I'm focusing only on
compound exercises. I'll train three times a week, making sure that I hit the three largest muscle groups each training day.
[ Q ] What advice do you have for competitors and other people who live the active lifestyle?
A: Keep your head up high and work hard towards your
goal. Always aim for the top.
[ Q ] How much of your on-stage condition do you attribute to nutrition? Training? Supplementation? Which one of these is the most important?
A: I'd say about 40%
nutrition, 40% training, and 20%
supplementation. I believe that there isn't really one that is more important than the other. You need a good balance of all three to be able to get to where you want to be.
[ Q ] In five years from now, where do you see your career?
A: Five years from now, I'd like to be doing professional fitness
modeling. I'm still pretty young, but I'd like to be settled into a career that involves health and fitness. The opportunities in our industry are endless and I can't say for sure what I'll be doing in 5 years from now, but that's a start!