There are no similarities with the two sports bodybuilding and tennis, however, the man considered to be St Lucia’s top player of all time and the winner of several bodybuilding titles share a common trait-a desire to succeed at all costs.
Tennis ace Vernon Lewis and world renowned bodybuilder and Star Publisher, Rick Wayne, started out in similar fashion-idolizing their heroes and hoping some day to become just like or even better than them.
For Lewis his idol was Yannick Noah and later on the late great Arthur Ash. For a young Rick Wayne it was Steve Reeves who he first spotted as Mr America on the cover of a bodybuilding magazine, cleverly concealed on his thigh during art class taught by none other than Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott.
Both Wayne and Lewis were present at the 30th edition of the Coca-Cola Tennis Tournament Monday evening at the National Tennis Centre. Lewis was being honoured for his contribution to tennis and for being among an elite group of tennis players, named by the ITF as one of the outstanding players worldwide who played in the most Davis Cup ties.
Wayne who Lewis earlier referred to as “our greatest sportsman” was the guest of honour. He was introduced by Master of Ceremonies Joseph “Reds” Perreira
who’s met his share of great champions all over the world. On this night though, the well known cricket commentator took immense pleasure and pride introducing a St Lucian world champion.
The guest of honour shared his formula to success with over 200 young tennis players worldwide, who attended Monday’s celebration. As a teenager he already made up his mind that there was nothing in the world stopping him from developing a physique like his idol Steve Reeves, despite the fact at that time there were no gyms on the island. Like they say where there’s a will there’s a way. His way was making weights out of molten lead and using rusty car axels as barbells.
“Yes, this is how I started out on my way to my dream of being the next Steve Reeves”, said Wayne. “The road led to England, where I took my first workouts in a real gym, where I won my first bodybuilding titles from Mr Home Counties to Mr Britain.”
Wayne escalated from there. He went on to win Mr World three times, Mr America twice and Mr Universe three times. The only prestigious competition Wayne didn’t win was Mr Olympia which he didn’t enter.
The STAR publisher spoke fondly of his relationship with his “Austrian friend” Arnold Schwarzenegger AKA The Terminator and former Governor of California. Schwarzenegger believed that anything was possible and Wayne during a conversation way back then recalled the Austrian making the following pronouncement. “I truly believe a man can get whatever he wants, if he wants it badly enough and is prepared to do whatever it takes to get it.”
Just imagine if our sportsmen and women had that same mentality how far ahead they would be.
If Schwarzenegger is AKA “The Terminator,” based on his speech to the young tennis enthusiasts you could call Wayne “The Motivator.”
He told his young attentive audience: “You can get whatever you set your heart on, providing you’re willing to pay whatever the price demanded. Talk to any person who has made a success of his or her life and the first think they will tell you is they never would’ve made it without a lot of discipline-without the ability to focus, to concentrate on achieving their goals. That’s what Arnold was talking about.”
He went on to say: “We are too easily satisfied with merely being invited to compete in important overseas competitions, even when we recognize our neglected
and consequently inferior athletes won’t get past the preliminaries.
Case in point was the London 2012 Olympics where St Lucia was represented by four athletes. It was one and done as no one got past the opening round of competition. However, with high jumper Levern Spencer making it through to the finals it didn’t
happen at the IAAF World Championships currently taking place in Russia.
It was not all doom and gloom from the guest of honour. He mentioned that we are finally starting to appreciate the value of sports tourism, economically and otherwise. He spoke highly of cricketer Darren Sammy and said “he is doing for our island what millions and millions of tourist board dollars have not done and never will.”
It’s a proven fact that competitive sports can only enhance ones overall well being. This world class bodybuilder told the gathering “there is no greater builder of self discipline, self confidence and the desire to go where no man has gone before than competitive sports.
Wayne pointed out even if you should fall short of being the next Michael Phelps, Darren Sammy, Usain Bolt or Serena Williams, the effort you put into becoming a sports champion will deliver other goals you never ever considered while pursuing your initial ambition.”
In closing Wayne applauded Dunstan and Jane Du Boulay of Du Boulay’s Bottling Company for their contributions to local tennis, which he pointed out was once considered here a sport exclusive to a certain set.
“What this couple has been doing for three decades or so for tennis has undoubtedly impacted many young St Lucians always in the best way,” said Wayne.