SANDTON – It takes tremendous courage to use your last borrowed cent to sow a seed on hard soil and expect a bumper harvest.
But some people are just born with a will to overcome even when faced with the toughest adversity.
Reigning Mrs Zimbabwe Regina Jonga, touched down in Sandton City this week from her base in Pretoria with such a story.
The domestic worker barely makes R2 000 a month but moved mountains to secure $250 registration fees and 30 Euros to pay for here IFBB affiliation fee in order to take part in the Arnold Classic.
She parted with the money despite the stubborn fact, she “didn’t think” she would win and knew she was not prepared enough to cause an upset.
Even if she did somehow defy the odds, there was no monetary reward awaiting her, only pride, exposure, a medal and a certificate.
To her credit she rose to beat two other well-resourced contestants to earn sixth place in the women’s physique up to 163 centimetres.
As she smiled and posed on stage on Friday night, no one knew the road she had travelled to get here.
“I feel good that I came sixth, it was tough. I have learnt a lot. That was the goal,” Jonga tells the Daily News.
The 38-year-old said she was grateful to relatives for helping her with the money to compete.
“At the moment, I am not working but even if I was, there was no way I was going to be able to get it,” she says.
“I was actually prepared to borrow to be here. That’s how much I love the sport. If you love something you will find a way.”
Asked if she believes one day the sport would pay her back, she takes a deep breath, smiles and says: “I don’t know.”
She spoke of the financial hurdles she faces in meeting a taxing training regiment.
It does not seem to faze her.
“I train at a cheap gym with inadequate equipment. It’s not the best but that’s what I can afford.
“But if I get sponsorship for my food requirements, supplements and gym I think I can go far,” she says.
The mother of two says she is blessed with supportive relatives.
She has steadily rose since starting off in 2012, like “a joke,” she recalls.
“When I won Mrs Novice, I knew I could make something out of this sport,” she says.
National Federation of Zimbabwe Bodybuilding and Fitness development officer Keith Chirimanzi was in awe of Jonga.
“She has a lot of potential. Looking at her preparations and those she competed with on stage, she has done tremendously well,” Chirimanzi says.
“She is just a driven somebody because given her circumstances other people would have just given up.”
Zimbabwe also fared well in other categories with Precious Mujuru placing fifth in the women’s physique up to 158 centimetres.
Garikai Mujuru held his own in the men’s senior 75-80kg, making it into the top six.
Demi Ferreira and Sally Lapage struggled in the Junior bikini fitness and masters bikini class respectively, both failing to place a number.
Chirimanzi gave a rundown of the monetary requirements involved to hit top shape before any bodybuilding event.
“To prepare for this tournament you are looking at $5 000-plus which includes your pre and post event meals, supplements, gym fees, kit, tanning and the like,” he says.
“For most of our athletes it’s a challenge. Due to the challenges it becomes an issue of passion and love.
“Talent is there no doubt, with more support, the sky is the limit.”