Wed, Oct 02, 2002 - Page 19 News List

Taiwan's bodybuilders out to prove their mettle

GAINING RECOGNITION The two members of Taiwan's bodybuilding team are battling not only other nations' competitors but also the media in their home country

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA

Bodybuilders Hsu Chung-huang, left, and Chen Jung-shen pose near Busan Citizens' Hall, South Korea, where they will represent the country in the event which debuts at the Asian Games this year.

PHOTO: JULES QUARTLY, TAIPEI TIMES

Bodybuilding gives Taiwan a "golden chance" at winning medals at the Asian Games, the country's contenders said yesterday in Busan, South Korea.

Chen Jung-sheng (陳榮生) and Hsu Chung-huang (許崇煌) said they were confident of winning gold in the event, which debuts along with modern pentathlon at the 14th Games.

They also criticized Chinese-language media back home for writing them off as posers who did nothing all day but work on their suntans.

Chen, who has a Phd in English and teaches at the De Lim Institute of Technology and Commerce Applied Foreign Languages in Tucheng, Taipei County, said they were out to prove the doubters wrong.

"We have heard that the press is saying that we have a very easy job and all we do is spend our time on sunbeds and pose," Chen said.

"This is not true, they don't understand the time, effort and dedication it takes to develop a body like this. People don't realize it but bodybuilding is a golden chance for Taiwan to win a gold medal."

He said they were lucky to be at the Asian Games because the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee was against them going to begin with. He said they eventually agreed to send Hsu and himself just three months before the Games began.

They provided a coach -- veteran bodybuilder and former Mr. Taiwan Yeh Wen-chang (葉文章), who has a gym in Taiwan -- and provided some financial support but "not that much."

"We realize that they don't know about our sport so we want to win the gold medal and prove ourselves to them," to the public and media "that this is a real sport and should be encouraged."

Chen originally comes from India but came to Taiwan in 1995 and met his Taiwanese wife soon after. Since then he has been living in Taipei County and made his mark in the bodybuilding world when he won the Mr. Asia competition, flyweight (60kg) division, in 1999 in Taipei.

At the time he held an Alien Resident Certificate, but this was not enough to allow him to compete in Hong Kong the next year. "Basically," Chen said, "I have been preparing myself for the Asian Games for the last three years."

The 35-year-old, who looks 10 years younger, said his training regimen involves two sessions a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon for a total of five hours, seven days a week.

"I cannot smoke, take drugs, eat fatty foods, greasy foods, go out to discos, stay up late, get up too early, or do anything that will hurt my body. It is physical and mental discipline," said, Chen, who works as a bank clerk

He has been competing since 1995 and his best result was at last year's Mr. Asia in Hong Kong when he came second.

He believes he stands a good chance of coming first at the Asian Games in the 85kg category because the Vietnamese bodybuilder who beat him has reduced his weight and intends to compete in the under-80kg category, which will give him a better chance of winning the world championships.

Hsu also said he was aggrieved at the reaction many of his compatriots had to his sport.

"Many people think what we do is [antisocial], that we are criminals or have a bad image. We don't want this kind of reaction and hope to change people's minds and show that what we do is good," Hsu said.

"The press say we are like Mong nan (male go-go dancers or strippers), but we are totally different from these people. This is a sport and we want to introduce it to Taiwan by winning at these Games."

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