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Israeli Dmitri Dokour grabbed first place in the over-50s category of the National Amateur Body Building Association's 57th Universe Competition 2005.
Dokour, 53, was one of three Israelis competing in the contest, formerly known as "Mr. Universe", which was held last month in Southport, England. He managed to stave off competition from 11 other participants in his section.
Erena Ma'ayan and Alex Stukanov also took part in the event.
Stukanov, 45, competed in the Masters over-40 age group for the first time, and narrowly missed out on the final six, placing seventh of 24 contestants. And Ma'ayan, 28, managed a respectable eighth out of 26.
Stukanov said the Universe event, which includes both amateurs and professionals, is considered the premier body building event of the year. "It is the top of the top," Stukanov told The Jerusalem Post."
"Although there is a fairly large group of bodybuilders in Israel who take the sport quite seriously, the large majority of them can't make the investment in time, [and money] with regard to training and nutrition, to prepare for an event of this caliber."
The Israel Amateur Body Building Association, with local body building legend Eli Hanna as president, has over four hundred members.
Due to a hand injury, Hanna was unable to train this past year with the intensity necessary in order to compete in the event, but attended as the head of the delegation.
Hanna competed in and won the amateur-only Mr. World competition, which ranks just below the Universe event, in 1998, 2001 and 2003, while placing second in the Universe events of 1998, 2000 and 2002 in the professional category.
Bodybuilding, as a sport, first became popular when Steve Reeves won one of the first "Mr. Universe" events in 1950, the year the NABBA was formed, and went on to act in the movie Hercules.
The sport received a tremendous boost in the late 1960's and '70's, when Arnold Schwarzenegger won first in the amateur and then the professional division of "Mr. Universe" for a number of years, and then went on to become one of the biggest Hollywood stars of all time, prior to his becoming the Governor of California.
However, Stukanov stressed that bodybuilding certainly isn't a sport just for show. It requires determination, a tremendous amount of hard work, time consuming dedication and self sacrifice.
"It takes me a full year to train for an event like the Universe, and that not only includes twice-a-day workouts, but also a very special and expensive diet, consisting of tremendous quantities of vitamins, proteins, minerals and amino acids," he said.
Stukanov is also a qualified nutritionist, with a university degree in nutrition and health food.
Since making aliya in 1993, he has been the fitness and training manager at the Canada Center in Metulla, and is responsible for the fitness training of all the winter sport athletes who use the facilities, as well as many local soccer and basketball players.
His daughter, Katya, is the leading skater on the Israeli Short Track Speed Skating team, and he is currently working with her and the team in their quest to qualify for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Each year, the IABBA is able to send seven athletes to compete in body building events around the world and once a year stages a Mr. Israel competition, which Stukanov has won seven times. This year he declined to compete, as it would have detracted from his training regimen for the Universe event, but did act as a judge for the competition, where more than forty bodybuilders competed for the honor in four different categories.
The judges, according to Stukanov, "look for body definition, proportion, mass and overall presentation."
"I know what I have to do in order to improve next year, and have already begun planning my training program in order to compete in Universe 2006," he concluded.
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