Mr. Tamil Nadu
It was 7.45 a.m., Sunday, March 22.
I woke up little late and was tensed that I overslept. Though pounding my body twice every day and coming home from work at 1:45 a.m. makes it necessary for me to get at least 8 hours of sleep, I knew justice could not be done to all departments.
This was especially true when I was trying to balance several things at a time– serious bodybuilding training, having a blog, a full-time job and family commitments.
I took a shower, had a small meal and jumped into a car where members of Team Masters – Murtuza Rasheed, Murali Vijaykumar and Srimathy – were waiting.
I was anxious that we had to reach the venue in Tiruvallur on time and couldn’t enjoy the jokes Murtu kept cracking while driving.
The venue, a wedding hall, was a nice and neat place, but small for a mega event like a State-level bodybuilding meet, the ‘Senior Mr. Tamil Nadu 2009.’
As soon as we got down from the car, we were welcomed by ‘Junior Mr. India’ N. Senguttuvan, who was sitting in a corner and loading carbohydrates.
I could clearly see that he was a bit smaller than usual. His closely pruned hair made him look like he had shrunk.
As we walked further, we met National judges V. Ratnam, ‘Iron’ J.P.R. Bose and Srinivasa Raghavan. ‘Mr. India’ and secretary of Tamil Nadu Bodybuilding Association M. Arasu arrived a few minutes later. He was accompanied by seven-time ‘Mr. India’ and National judge G. Ekambaram.
‘Mr. India’ J. Muniappan, ‘Mr. South India’ Y. Annamalai and CMABBA Secretary Suresh walked in one after another.
Members of Team Masters exchanged pleasantries with them and sat next to the officials.
I quietly slipped out through the side door and joined the competitors who were oiling up.
The first player I ran into was S. Murthy. Oh man, what a transformation! I couldn’t believe my eyes…Is this the same Frankenstein’s monster that ate up competitors a year ago?!!!!
I would call this version of Murthy a shadow of that monster of the past. But, his claim of “coming in clean” to pass the dope test with flying colours had definitely made him look more pleasing and smart. He was now a truly impressive bodybuilder.
Murtu kept himself busy applying ‘Dream Tan’ on Senguttuvan and a couple of other friends. Senior State and National competitors like Rajasekhar and former champion and trainer S. Vinod took turns to asking Murtu when he would step on stage again.
The young man flashed a coy smile and kept saying, “soon.”
Yes, you better do it soon brother, or face the risk of getting whacked by other members of Team Masters.
Murali Vijaykumar came running to me and said, “Lakshmi, today we are going to see some heavy duty fight. ICF and Railway players R. Satish Kumar, V. Jayaprakash, Kodandaraman, S. Balamurugan, ‘Flex Wheeler’ Ranjith Kumar and K. Jayakumar are competing. It’s going to be one hell of a clash. And we also have Murthy, E. Ponmudi, Senguttuvan, K. Gopinath and N. Hari Babu. How I wish I had trained for this show!”
Don’t worry ‘Big Lee’ Murali, you are soon going to rub shoulders with these “big guys.”
55 kg category
We once again had Hari Babu dominating the lineup in this class. Prabhakaran from Tiruchi, a veteran who finished second, was perhaps the only other competitor who could be compared with Hari.
The kid was indeed ready for the war – ‘Mr. India’ competition scheduled to be held at Kolkata in the first week of April.
Vinod was confident of his pupil placing very well, and we, at Team Masters, are sure that Hari Babu would soon get a job in ICF or Railways. Keep moving ahead young man, but be on guard.
60 kg lineup
Ah, was the State meet going the Mr. Chennai way?
No, it didn’t. This time the gap between Ponmudi and Senguttuvan had narrowed. Ponmudi was not freaky-big and full like he was at the city meet, but ripped to shreds and dry! Senguttuvan, as I had guessed, was not at his best. Had he been 100 % ‘on,’ it could have been his show. The judges called for a few comparisons again and again and Bose kept announcing that the competition was close.
Ponmudi knew that he was in for a fight and gave his everything to beat his rival.
At the end of prejudging, I told Senguttuvan that had he been at his best, he could have won. Yet, it would be worth giving a fight for each pose at the evening finals.
65 kg and 70 kg
These two categories belonged to Kodandaraman and Balamurugan. I was surprised that N. Perumal Durai sat out of this State meet!
In 65 kg class, I could also see the beautiful Harikrishnan once again. Though he appeared shrunk and seemed to have lost size in his arms and deltoids, he was in amazing condition and looked second only to Kodandaraman. Murthy was another competitor who looked very good. But, I somehow had him finishing not higher than third. And he did finish third at the evening finals.
I got an opportunity to see Balamurugan, after a long time, in the 70 kg category. He was now an amazing competitor. I knew that he had been working too hard for several years and his struggle had finally made him a star competitor. Great work, champ. Rock the Nationals.
R. Sathish Kumar of Railways, ‘Mr. Tamil Nadu’ and ‘Jr. Mr. India’ runner-up, was onstage once again in this category. He looked very good but had to finish second to the incredible Bala.
This category also had ‘Mr. Tamil Nadu’ Lakshmipathy from Minjur, Chennai. Though he was in amazing shape, he couldn’t give Bala or Satish a fight for the title. He ended up in third spot.
75 kg category
Here was the superstar of this entire meet, Jayaprakash.
Wherever this young man went, he had audience. Muscle-hungry fans crowded around him, asking how he built his quads or arms.
I, however, could see that Jayaprakash lacked that freaky dry look he was notorious for. But, he was truly A-class material. It was just like he had to step onstage, hit a few poses, collect his trophy and get down. Game over.
But, this category also had former State player Arumugam competing after a year. He missed his train to Tiruvallur and was late for the show. When he arrived at the venue, his category was ‘on’ and he had to step onstage without oil or Dream Tan!
But, I could see that Arumugam had improved a lot and I feared this lack of colour would send him down a couple of places. However, he finished second at the evening finals. The judges should be praised for not penalising Arumugam.
80 kg category
Here we had our friend Gopi, flexing his mighty muscles. He was in good shape and not holding much water. I realised that he had manipulated water and deliberately come to this category. Smart move Gopi, anybody could realise that you did not want to play a gamble by competing in your usual 75 kg category.
There was truly no competition for Gopi in this class.
85 kg class
Here I saw Ranjith Kumar after some time. He was full, hard and his quads were mind-blowing huge!
In 90 kg category, there were no solid competitors. R. Satish, who looked great at ‘Junior Mr. Tamil Nadu,’ was not at his best here, but good enough to win his class.
90 + category
Here stood the handsome Jayakumar. Though not at his best, he still looked a clear winner. This category also had former ‘Mr. Tamil Nadu’ and ‘Mr. South India’ M. Satish Kumar. It was clear that Satish was coming in clean and also tried to look big. I found it hard to digest that this incredible champion had not got it right this time and was way off. I knew he would finish second or maybe third and that’s how it ended. Satish placed third.
As I could not get leave at my office, I had to report for duty at 5 p.m.
I took a train to office, leaving the rest of my team members at the venue.
The event unfolded without major surprises with Haribabu, Ponmudi, Kodandaraman, Balamurugan, Jayaprakash, Gopinath, Ranjith Kumar, Satish and Jayakumar clashing for the overall, ‘Champion of Champions’ title.
The judges narrowed down on three players – Balamurugan, Jayaprakash and Ranjith.
The title went to Bala and a lot of people seemed happy.
Good performance, Bala, you are undoubtedly a great competitor. Team Masters wishes you a lot more success in the future.
Tailpiece: ‘Mr. Tamil Nadu’ Velu (Velmurugan) who organised this competition needs special praise. The former champion had left no stone unturned to make this event a grand success. The amount of money he had spent on mementos and shawls to honour guests was shocking. His team of volunteers did their best to keep the officials and visitors happy. Team Masters also wishes to congratulate Tiruvallur association officials and judges, including Ameer Basha and Gajendran.
_ C. Lakshmi Kumar