New Delhi: Asia’s biggest event in the fitness, health, and bodybuilding world- the International Health, Sports, and Fitness Festival (IHFF) 2022, powered by India’s leading sports and wellness nutrition brand Steadfast Nutrition, successfully concluded in the national capital late at night on Sunday.
The three-day jamboree witnessed the participation of 600 athletes from India and across the world, over 150 fitness brands, industry experts, businesses, and a lakh of spectators including health enthusiasts. The highlights of the colossal event were the country’s biggest bodybuilding championship- the Sheru Classic, and the All India Mixed Martial Arts Federation (AIMMAF) national tournament. The event concluded late night on Sunday (June 19). The Sheru Classic Pro Qualifiers is held each year to enable bodybuilders from India and across the world to earn pro cards from the International Federation of Bodybuilding (IFBB). Being an IFBB Pro is the dream of most bodybuilding athletes, and is considered a gateway to Mr Olympia- the world’s ultimate bodybuilding championship. Winners were awarded 10 pro cards. India ruled the championship. Seven of the winning athletes were from India, 2 from Russia and 1 from Thailand.
Talking about the success of the international event and explaining why Steadfast threw its weight behind it, Aman Puri, founder, Steadfast Nutrition, says, “We are happy that the IHFF 2022 has been such a smashing success. Through our association, we were able to bring key players of the country’s rapidly-growing health and wellness industry under one roof, which has helped enhance the visibility of Indian brands at a global level, instilling confidence among global consumers in our country’s capabilities in this arena. India is a powerhouse of sporting talent. By sponsoring these tournaments, we want to draw a clear road map for the success of Indian athletes at the international level and make winning a habit for them. By presenting contests like these, we want to make these lucrative career options for the youth so that we can fulfil our long-term aim of making India the Sports Capital of the World by 2050. Bodybuilding and MMA haven’t gone mainstream like cricket, football, or tennis. 10 pro cards were given out at the Sheru Classic, considered a gateway to the world’s ultimate bodybuilding championship- Mr Olympia.”
In attendance at the mega-event were Bollywood celebrities and several famous athletes including legendary American bodybuilder Rich Gaspari, renowned bodybuilding champion Dexter ‘The Blade’ Jackson, renowned TV actors and Steadfast Nutrition athletes Siddhaanth Surryavanshi, Shweta Gulati and Shikha Chhabra, India’s pioneer bodybuilding athlete Rita Jairath, fitness model Sergei Constance, world champion Sangram Chougule and Indian athlete and former Mr Universe Suneet Jadhav. The high points of Day 3 included a performance by well-known singer Daler Mehndi and international fitness model Ulisses Jr. International champions conducted sessions wherein they interacted with aspiring athletes and bodybuilders.
Athletes faced-off in five categories at the Sheru Classic including Men’s Bodybuilding, Men’s Classic Physique, and Men’s Physique, Women’s Figure, Bikini, Women’s Physique, Women’s Fitness and Wellness. The winners included Sandip Rajbanshi (India- Men’s Bodybuilding), Nandita Rawat (India- Women’s Physique), Panjapa Chumyam (Thailand- Women’s Figure), Navneet Kaur (India- Women’s Fitness), Chand Mondal (India, Men’s Classic Physique), Elena Tseluiko (Russia, Women’s Wellness), Sandra Lakimova (Russia, Women’s Bikini), Piyush Raj (India, Men’s Classic Physique), Rajkumar Paswan (India, Men’s Physique), and Dilip Kumar (India, Men’s Physique).
The atmosphere was charged both on and off the stage and the excitement among the crowd was palpable. Off the stage, fitness brands, nutraceutical companies set up their booths, educating people about their nutritional requirements.
Asked about challenges faced by women athletes in the country and how she successfully countered these to fulfil her aim, Navneet Kaur, who won a pro card in the fitness category, said, “There is a need for brands to support and sponsor women athletes in terms of taking care of our nutritional requirements and also in terms of financial aid. It’s a men’s world out there in Indian sports. However, anything is possible with hard work and a positive mindset. Despite my problems of arthritis, thyroid, breathlessness and a back injury, I challenged and pushed myself to work harder and reached where I am.”
The hotly anticipated MMA Championship was also a nail-biter and witnessed the participation of 200 athletes across India and the world.