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Team UK Takes the World by Storm!

Written by Lee Kemp
Photos by Nick Swann and Norbert Torriente


Following the resounding success of the inaugural UKDFBA Championships, the next challenge to be faced was the INBF/WNBF Worlds which were held on 12th November 2011 in “The Big Apple” itself, New York City. For most, the contest season is well and truly over by this time but for Team UK it had meant another several weeks of dieting and training and for the UKDFBA support staff it meant a whole lot more organising to be done. One thing was for sure, everybody was determined to do their bit and make our first ever International contest trip one to remember!

Now aside from this being the first ever UKDFBA team to compete abroad, there were 2 notable and very special things about this trip. Firstly, the INBF/WNBF Worlds are considered by anyone in the know to be the biggest and most prestigious World Championships in the Natural Bodybuilding game and the UKDFBA team represented the biggest UK Amateur team in the history of this contest, with no less than nine great athletes (after a late withdrawal from Mark Hesketh, who in his best ever shape was denied his U.S. debut due to a stomach bug which bit in the week leading up to the contest and lasted throughout the weekend) and secondly that for most of the team, it was their first time competing in the USA! I don’t care what anybody says, competing Stateside is for many the pinnacle of Bodybuilding competition, and the impending thought of hitting the stage in one of the most famous cities in the World was causing a buzz of excitement amongst both athletes and supporters in the run up to the contest.

The majority of the team set off from Heathrow on a dark and miserable Thursday morning, sleepily boarding the flight to JFK looking forward to what lay ahead. I gloomily expected to see similar scenes of dank weather at the other end, but after a comfortable and entertaining flight (with a flight attendant twice the size of any one of the team, who turned out to be a Natural Bodybuilding competitor himself and spent time taking extra care of the athletes on board and even made sure the Captain of the plane made a special “good luck” announcement to the team as we landed) and relatively (for JFK at least) quick transition through security we were to our surprise greeted with a bright and sunny day in NYC. Before long, we were whisked into Manhattan and safely lodged at the Westside YMCA, our “home” for the weekend.



First order of the day was food and water. Thanks to the “recce” mission carried out by Gavin Gibson who had arrived a day earlier we were quickly and effortlessly fed, watered and with microwave for the days ahead. Next up was a quick pump workout for a few of the guys, which turned (true to UK Bodybuilding style) into a stripped off pose down between Gavin, Peter Clarke, Samuel Swann and the monstrous Rich Gozdecki. A crowd quickly gathered in the YMCA gym (one of the best equipped I’d ever seen!) to witness the sight of these guys, who all looked incredible. Of course, it wasn’t long before the “gym stud” (you know, big chest and arms but with a gut to match and very little in the way of leg development) took the hump because he wasn’t getting all of the attention and complained to the manager until we basically got thrown out of the gym! Of course, this amused me immensely as most who know me would expect it to…

Friday followed with the obligatory early rise due to our not having adjusted to the time difference. Polygraph testing was the order of the day today with several trips back to and forth to the New Yorker Hotel with various members of the team, who were in what I can only imagine to be in a state of utter bamboozlement between being tired, hungry and in a huge and bustling city surrounded by some of the most famous landmarks there are. Naturally (no pun intended) all of the team sailed through their tests and were free to roam if they chose before the big day that would follow. We all got together for a brief team meeting that night, to make new acquaintances and plan for…



Contest day! Again, an early rise for breakfast (with a couple of the team joining me at the local diner to devour their steak and eggs while I had something with, erm… a few more carbs in it) before we all gathered in the lobby at 8.15, waited for Gav, waited some more then left at 8.30 for the venue, proudly decked out in the fantastic team kits supplied by Leon Moore at Wear 2 Gym. Luckily, we had planned to stay a mere few blocks away from the venue so a short walk later we climbed the steps into the venue, only to climb back down some steps into the theatre lobby (note to Architect…..) and join the pandemonium of over 100 athletes waiting to be checked in, having already missed the 100 that already had been! Checking in over, we swiftly entered the huge Martin Luther King Theatre and draped bags, jackets and several huge Union Jacks over 2 rows of seats which would be ours for the afternoon. Shortly after we set up camp, the Pro Ladies strode onstage to begin the prejudging and within minutes the rest of the World had found out that Team UK was there to make some serious noise!! In fact, it is with great pride that I can say that our near 30 strong party of athletes, officials and supporters kept that noise going for every member of the team from start to finish. Air horns, waving flags and plenty of good old fashioned vocals kept all of our guys and girls motivated onstage, and the rest of the audience a mixture of amusement and annoyance! Next year, remind me to import a few senses of humour to replace the trophies we eventually exported. Oh, and on the subject of trophies I’m guessing you want to hear how we got on in that respect, right?



Well I’ll tell you exactly how it all went down from my eyes. On top of the 9 Amateurs and 1 Pro on Team UK, there were several other Pro athletes from the UK competing and we all spent the day supporting and encouraging each other so it is only fair that I write about us all as we really were one “big happy family” on the day. So from the start of the show onwards, here goes:

PRO TEAM
LIGHTWEIGHT WOMEN

Karen Mason was the first to tread the boards in the Pro Women’s Lightweight Bodybuilding. This has been Karen’s toughest year of contest prep, and the results of it were immediately evident with the best overall package she has ever presented to the judges. Conditioned to perfection with her usual immaculate tan, hair, makeup and costume she looked every inch one of the finest Pros in the World. Understandably not faring so well in the symmetry round which she can simply do very little about, Karen came into her own in the mass and muscularity comparisons and grew in confidence every time she was moved closer to the centre of the line up. Her evening free posing was “smoking hot” as ever, and she finished the day with her equal highest ever placing at a World Championship with a very creditable 6th place which despite being a tad harsh (I had her 4th, 5th at worst) both she and us were very proud of. The class was taken by the unstoppable Brenda Rahe as she prepared for her umpteenth battle for the overall. Marina Cornwall also competed in the class, as well as the pro “Fit Body” division. Marina boasted her greatest level of musculature to date, no doubt down to the very successful year of Powerlifting she has enjoyed. Her extra muscle size aided her in improving her symmetry too and she was no doubt at her all time best. Sadly, she was just out of the top 6 in both classes but can feel nothing but proud of being in her finest shape yet on the worlds toughest stage. Well done Marina!



HEAVYWEIGHT WOMEN

Heavyweight ladies next, with the UK being represented by Pro Debutante Helen Stack and the legendary Cheryl Myers hoping to defend her title. It was a huge pleasure to watch “our” ladies drawn straight into the middle of the line-up and remain there for all 3 rounds. I had no doubt whatsoever at the end of the judging that Myers was the one to beat here, with Helen fighting for 2nd place against the almost unfeasibly huge Toni West who had muscle mass to spare but nowhere near the conditioning and structure of Helen. Come the night show, the decision went in Helens favour as she took an amazing second place in her first pro contest but there was no beating the record breaking Cheryl Myers as she swept the board in my eyes to take a clear Heavyweight and Overall win and once again cement her place in history as the greatest female bodybuilder to ever come out of the UK. I am proud to have Cheryl as a friend and a supporter of the UKDFBA.



MIDDLEWEIGHT MEN

Men’s Pro’s next. First up was former Pro Universe and World Champ Brandon Greenwood. Long admired as not only one of the finest bodybuilders in the country but as a thoroughly all round decent bloke, Brandon returned to the stage after a year off in the absolute best shape of his career. Picture perfect symmetry and airtight condition that would have won many a World title was only sadly stopped from doing so today by the Superhuman Shevon Cunningham. I’ve pretty much seen it all in my 20 years in the sport, but Cunningham had “it” like nobody else I’ve ever laid eyes on. After prejudging, a disappointed Brandon knew that the win today was just a little out of his grasp, but neither he (nor the rest of us in all honesty) expected him to be pipped for second place at the night show by Greg Rando. Although Rando had an incredible physique, with a level of muscle mass rarely seen on a bodybuilder of his height, I genuinely believed that Brandon’s symmetry, structure, conditioning and overall presentation was worthy of a clear second. Nonetheless, regardless of the result nobody can ever take away the fact that Mr Greenwood was as good as he could have been that day.



HEAVYWEIGHT MEN

The final Pro class was the Men’s Heavyweight and the eagerly anticipated Pro debut of Overall UKDFBA Champion Richard Gozdecki. We were keen to see just how he’d fare when he “picked on somebody his own size” and especially how he’d look next to reigning Heavyweight and Overall Champ Martin Daniels. Backstage after prejudging, I remarked to Daniels how good he looked (possibly the best I’ve seen the South Carolina Veteran Pro) to which he replied “That’s ‘cos I knew this guy was comin’!”, pointing at Rich. Throughout the afternoon session, it was clear that this class was a 2 horse race between the reigning champ and the rookie, with Kurt “The Animal” Weidner a solid 3rd place with his brutally hardcore blend of muscle and condition which only lacks the finish of a god-given structure to make everybody else look small and smooth! But Kurt was given what he was given in the genetics department and would only stand on the fringe of the battle royal that was “Old Lion vs. Young Lion” as a result. Daniels was notably denser than Rich, particularly in the chest, shoulders and lower body and boasted arm development that would have made Arnold look over his shoulder! Rich countered this by being significantly larger (about 106 kilos at the weigh in!) with a far superior structure with his flaring shoulders and thighs coming into a wasp thin waist to create the perfect “X frame” shape which was capped off by the best condition I’ve ever seen on a heavyweight other than Kurt Weidner! It was a nail biter all the way, with both men knowing that the free posing round may well decide their fate. Richard pulled out all the stops here, posing “Paris-esque” to a moving number which visibly amazed the judges who could hardly believe how well he moved for a big man. Daniels countered with a quietly aggressive “no-nonsense” display of raw mass, capped off with a wry smile and salute to the crowd almost as if to say “Nice try Rich, but you’re in my house now”. Well, on a very close split decision Mr Daniels soon had to sign over the deeds to “his house” to a jubilant Gozdecki. Rich was half shocked, half elated when he realised that he had unseated a bodybuilding legend on his own turf, but he deservedly did and now had the unenviable task of having a crack at Cunningham and Lightweight winner Lenardo Casagrande from Italy in the Overall.



PRO MENS OVERALL

As excellent as Casagrande was, once again it was a head to head for the title. Both men were huge, both had a great shape and balance and both were virtually fat free. This contest truly could go either way and the judges clearly had a hard time making their decision as a number of comparisons were called between the three as well as the longest pose down I have ever seen in 20 years in the sport. It was almost as if they were waiting for one man to tire and stop posing so they could award the title to the other, but neither relented. Cunningham and Gozdecki went for each other tooth and nail, both to rousing encouragement from their supporters. In the end the battle was halted and after what seemed like another eternity, emcee Dr Fred Dimenna announced that by another 3-4 split decision the biggest prize in natural bodybuilding would be awarded to contestant number 3. Immediately, half of the audience went wild with joy but two of the three men on stage were still in suspense as both Casagrande and Gozdecki wore number 3 on their trunks! A split second later, they knew what the rest of us already did and the big trophy, big cheque and most importantly the bragging rights of the undisputed title of the best Natural Bodybuilder in the World for 2011 went to the UKDFBA’s very own Richard “Godzilla” Gozdecki!! There were emotional scenes both onstage and in the crowd as Rich graciously made time to congratulate and pay respect to those he had conquered before accepting his prizes and finally took centre stage to soak up the congratulations of the majority of the packed audience. This was not only almost certainly the greatest moment of Rich’s life so far, but one I would never forget as I sat (and unashamedly) cried like a little girl with happiness for the man who I not only respect as an athlete but love dearly as a close personal friend. That’s how we roll Brother!

And just to show what a class act he is, Rich promptly got dressed and headed straight to the nearest “liquor store” to bring back 2 crates of beer so that every member of the amateur team to follow him would have a cold bottle to enjoy as soon as they came offstage, hopefully with some silverware of their own. And following on from the “lead by example” performance of their team Captain, they didn’t disappoint...

AMATEUR TEAM
LADIES PHYSIQUE

First out was Anna Millington, the UK Ladies Bodybuilding Champ. Anna opened the batting for the Amateur team perfectly, looking incredible in her hardest condition to date with her trademark balanced muscle and incredibly v-tapered upper body. Anna was in a strong line up and was in the mix of a three way battle with Jamaican Shanique Green and Australian Vicky Turner which resulted in much shuffling around of the three by the judges in all three rounds. To my eyes, Green ruled from the back with her mega tight hams and glutes but was not carrying enough muscle on her huge, tall, long limbed frame to trouble the other two ladies overall. Turner was the “condition Queen” of the class, being absolutely rock hard and detailed in every body part but with a narrow shouldered and long torsoed structure which would see her suffer in the symmetry round in particular. But throughout the day, it was the heavy muscled, balanced and aesthetic overall package of Team UK’s very own “Rexy” that was the one to beat. Coming to the stage at night to finish her tour de force with a strong and well choreographed routine, Anna Millington became the very first member of the UKDFBA to take a World Title and ladies Pro Card much to the delight of her and everyone else in the party. Anna has the potential to do some real damage in the Pros should she choose to do so.



FIT BODY

UK Fit Body Champ Danielle Chambers took to the stage after Anna. Danielle loved every second of being in New York for her first International, and from the moment she stepped onstage in the afternoon in a huge and deeply talented line up we could all see she had got herself into incredible shape for the contest. In a traditionally hard class to judge, Danielle was always in the thick of things but at times seemed a little overlooked during the comparisons. It was clear to me that the first 2 places would be taken by Australian Nadia Robertson and Vicky Canavan (both trained by the man who I refer to as “Down Under’s Ian Duckett”, Michael Tabban who as well as being a great guy always turns out huge numbers of perfectly prepared female athletes) in whichever order they were placed, but the next 3 places could go to any of 6 ladies, one of whom was Danielle. Come the night show and the awards, “Our Dan” took a very creditable 5th place and another of the beautifully crafted statues that would be awarded to our placing amateur athletes that day. Danielle performed admirably and we were all immensely proud of her.



JUNIORS

Next up was “Young Buck” Samuel Swann, the UK Teenage Champ. Sam would be battling in the smallest line up of the day, but the 3 strong Teen class was also the hardest to judge! INBF regular Jan Sopiak from Florida and Connecticuts Tayarr Foust both outmuscled the tall, long limbed Swann most likely due to their smaller and easier to fill frames. What they couldn’t do however was match the bullet-hard “Made in England” conditioning that all of our team showed that day. Sam was ripped with deeply separated quads and striated shoulders and pecs that made the other two lads in this class look like they hadn’t dieted quite frankly! Some last minute tweaks to a couple of his compulsories (you’re welcome!) saw that Sam looked wider and more dominant than ever before on his side shots and overall I felt that he had enough to lift this title, pushed to the absolute edge by Foust who in all honesty had an amazing physique and a near perfect structure despite his softer conditioning and “couldn’t be bothered” stage expression. In the end, it was Foust who took the title in yet another one point split decision from a disappointed Swann. But perspective was quickly put on things and the “Young Buck” was soon smiling when it sank in that in only his third bodybuilding contest he had shared the same stage as the greatest athletes in history, almost won a World Title and now had 3 days of New York Food to look forward to! Both Samuel, his father and training partner Nick (who can be credited for some of the photos that accompany this article) and his Mum and Sister were an absolute pleasure to have as part of our UK contingent. There are great things in store for this man.



JUNIOR MASTERS

From the “Young Buck” we moved onto the grizzled veterans. Paul Todd was our man in the “Junior” Masters (with the line up being split in half on age) and immediately became our first amateur Centre Stage hog of the day! Immediately put in the middle of every comparison and deservedly so as he was in his best shape ever and aesthetically near perfect from the front and side with enough mass to trouble any of the line up. Toddy was pushed hard by German Champ Jorgen Hohmann but it was Switzerland that offered the biggest challenge in the shape of Martin Portner. Heavier and equally conditioned as Toddy but less aesthetic, this was a real close battle which in classic bodybuilding fashion was won and lost from the back. As good as Toddy is, his back (particularly glutes, hams and calves) are not quite a match for his front and Portners extra balance in this respect would be the thing that swung the decision in his favour and relegated the man from Ashford into an equal best at these championships 2nd place. But from his less than stellar showing earlier in the year (which served only to fuel some brutal workouts and Spartan dieting as he walked the “hard yards” into this contest) it was credit alone that Toddy had made it here in such great shape. He knows as well as we all do that his World Title awaits him, and when he finally holds it in his hands it will be as sweet as anything he has ever experienced. It’ll happen fella, trust me.



MASTERS

I was proud and honoured to have Peter “Nobby” Clarke on the team. With a string of national titles spanning 20 years, a heap of international experience and a physique that can only be crafted with a lifetime of drug free training Nobby was the man that the whole team looked up to. At 53 years old he was huge, ripped and took the whole experience in his stride as one may expect from such a veteran campaigner, although I must admit his first ride on the New York Subway, emerging to see Madison Square Garden and the Empire State building did bring a child like glint to Nobbys eye in a moment that I will never forget sharing with him. On contest day, it was a one way street however and Nobby was driving the wrong way down it knocking all oncoming traffic aside! He dominated this class and after a stunning, powerful and classical free posing display took his first World Title in what was the clearest victory of the whole contest. Nobby would take the stage again a few moments later to show young Portner “how it’s done in Twickenham” to take the Overall Masters crown on a 6-1 majority. Nobby glowed graciously with pride as those of us that looked on beamed with admiration for this great man and superb athlete. That World Title was a long time coming mate, and I know you’ve been cruelly denied it in the past but tonight was your night and it was a pleasure to be there to witness it.



BANTAMWEIGHTS

Onto the home straight now of a very long day with the Men’s weight classes. First up was the “Iron Guru” himself. I’ve already mentioned the “Australian Ian Duckett”, but we had the real thing doing battle in the Bantamweights. Although diminutive in stature and light on the scales, Ian strode onstage with the power and presence of a man twice his height and weight and made a huge impact with the judges from his very first meaningful step onto the stage boards. Ian, a man of vast experience in the game was making his American debut and like many others on the team had dreamed of this moment for a long time and was not only determined to enjoy it but had left no stone unturned in his preparation. Backstage, the other bantamweight men were shocked by his deep condition and startling vascularity and were asking Ian for diet and training tips before they’d even been on for prejudging! At one point, I thought a couple of guys were going to ask for his autograph!! But there was one man who hid himself away in a quiet corner because he was here to do one thing, and one thing alone. The previous evening, WNBF Asia Pacific President Hayzer Cayli had told me of his amazing Bantamweight athlete Andrew Roberts and as we ironically sat beside each other at the prejudging of the class I was the first to acknowledge that he wasn’t lying! The next two horse race was on! Ian had the balance, near perfect symmetry and the picture perfect stage presentation. Andrew had a ridiculous amount of muscle for a man of only 68 kilos and deep, deep cuts and striations across every one of his densely muscled body parts. This was a real chalk and cheese contest with both men put and left in the centre of the stage for the duration of the judging leaving Urs Zumstein and Roman Kaegi (both Swiss) and Akihiko Goto (Japan) vying for the respective 3rd, 4th and 5th places they later received. The battle for the top 2 spots was down to the wire and Ian fought with every ounce of his being both in the day and with his breathtaking routine at night (the best of the day, amateur or pro without a shadow of a doubt) but in the end it was a close but deserved win for the big Australian and the first slot in the overall line-up was filled. Ian was a credit to himself and to Team UK with his runner up finish and already promises to be back!



MIDDLEWEIGHTS

With no Lightweights, we had a little breather from concentrating onstage (although I did have a cheer for my new buddy Korey Gonzales, a real great guy who I was talking to at prejudging who had encountered some real hurdles in life to be where he was and finished with a great 5th place) and prepare for the 3 way UK assault on the Middleweight class.

Both Toddy and Nobby “doubled up” and took respective 5th and 6th places in this class which we were all chuffed to bits with. But our major hopes for this one lay with UK Middleweight Champ Mark “The Natural Oak” Oakes. In his first contest season since 2007, Mark was better than ever for this contest. Huge, ripped, full with perfect tan and presentation he was the epitome of the well prepared athlete. Mark was full of fire onstage as usual, even earning himself a telling off from Head Judge Nancy Andrews during the prejudging as he rattled off pose after pose even when not being asked to! But Mr Oakes was there to be noticed, and noticed he was! He was immediately dropped into the middle with North Carolinas Levi Burge, who despite lacking the sophisticated finish of the Oakes physique was brutally huge with a massive chest and back and legs that defied belief. Condition wise, Burge was rock hard and separated deeper than I’ve seen before, but lacked the fine detail of the experienced Brit. My heart told me this was Oakes’ win, but my head told me that Burge was just too much to be ignored and come the night show my head prevailed with Levi taking the win and Pro Card and a disappointed Mark accepting the runner up spot like the Gentleman and good sport that he is. I know Mark only plays to win though and that he’ll be back! That aside, both men were incredible and I had a firm feeling after the judging that the winner of this class would go on to take the overall as Mark and Levi were without doubt or disrespect to any other the best two physiques in the Amateur contest.



LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS

The last class of the day for Team UK was the Light Heavyweights, with two of our boys onstage. It is worth noting that although it was getting late and most of us had been there for around 15 hours solid at this point, the support for John “Wolverine” Heaton and Gavin “Party Boy” Gibson was still vocal and enthusiastic. At the afternoon, once again and much to our pleasure both guys were put in the centre and stayed there for the duration, being moved around only to change the angles and be interspersed with the huge Swissman Sebastian Stitz (who had amazing thigh development and wide, wide shoulders but lacked the condition to topple Gav and John). It was a strange feeling, cheering for both of our boys as they went head to head. Part of me knew we’d get a winner here and I was happy for it to be either man but I and the others constantly kept check on the fact that we had to cheer equally for both guys. The battle itself was a tight one, with Gav shorter in stature and perhaps relatively heavier muscled than John, but John with flawless structure, incredibly tight condition and “that look” to his physique that perhaps Gav hasn’t quite been around long enough to get yet. Posing wise, John was the graceful and composed veteran with Gav showing his youthful zest with a powerful and more outgoing routine.

I had made my mind up at the prejudging, and the 7 Judges in front of me agreed when they awarded a proud as punch John Heaton his second World Title, but without a doubt his biggest and hardest fought to date. As Team UK supporter Max O’Connor (who worked his socks off all weekend tanning and last minute prepping the guys) threw the Union Jack to John and he draped it over his shoulders as he posed with the winners trophy I almost shed a tear again! John is a “proper Man” though and wouldn’t approve so I restrained myself…



AMATEUR MENS OVERALL

Heaton was back onstage a few moments later to contest the overall against Roberts, American Eric Seyfried the Lightweight Winner, Burge and massive Heavyweight winner Evan Godbee from Australia. Now I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet here, but when it comes to Bodybuilding I’m not often wrong and as predicted, it was a solid overall win for Levi Burge who will do some damage in the Pro ranks once he puts the final coat of “polish” on his amazing physique. Well done Levi. If you can beat “The Oak”, then you deserved that overall!





THE AFTERMATH

So at 1am it was time to leave the theatre (up some steps, then back down some steps…) and the real party animals among us headed for an all night diner where some of us had our first “proper” meal all day, and some of us had our first “proper” meal all year! It was one of the highlights of the trip watching the “Young Buck” destroy a huge Lasagne and Blueberry Muffin (actually alternating mouthfuls of each!), while Nobby celebrated the pinnacle of his career to date with a well deserved Pizza. Me? Egg whites and Broccoli of course…

A short time later, after Nobby had generously picked up the tab for our meals we went our separate ways for the night. After all of 10 hours sleep since Tuesday night, I’d kind of got over being tired by then and the excitement and pride I was feeling was not going to let me sleep a wink. So, I and my good friend Karen Mason (who was similarly buzzing from the whole experience) decided to take a stroll. Columbus Circle, Central Park, Broadway, down to Times Square and back again as we marvelled at the sights of this amazing City and talked endlessly about the metaphorical defeats and victories of our respective years, the amazing accomplishments of the team both at home and abroad and agreeing on two things. Firstly, there is no place in the World to compete like New York City and secondly that this maiden voyage of the UKDFBA would never, ever be forgotten.



Just a few hours later, I was back in that same diner having our “Team UK breakfast” and watching again as the men and ladies I had seen work so hard to do their Association and Country proud finally indulge in some food. “Rexy” almost out-ate “Godzilla”, and “Young Buck” was fast becoming a Blueberry Muffin addict! It was as I quietly (for me, that is) sat back and enjoyed the banter of the relative strangers who had become great friends in such a short space of time that it really sank in. This is what it was all about from the day I made my “leap of faith”. I’ve always known that the UKDFBA was not about me, it’s not about politics and it’s not about getting one up on people, egos, fame, money or any such thing. But that moment I truly understood the whole reason I decided that this just might be a good idea. Every stressful moment, every late night (including the one that I’m having as I write this), every financial worry and every second of that dreaded flight (did I mention I didn’t like flying?) had all come to fruition in this one special moment where people who love this sport as much as I have done for over 20 years of my life were together, thousands of miles from home with the pride of achieving and living their dreams and with every member and supporter of the UKDFBA thinking of them back home with pride and admiration, themselves hoping and dreaming that one day they’ll be in their hero’s and heroines shoes.

As we finished up and parted company for the final time (for then at least) at the door of the diner and walked off in different directions almost “Oceans 11” style to enjoy the rest of our time in New York I remember thinking one thing…

I can’t wait for next year.

Thank you once again from the bottom of my heart to every member, supporter and athlete of the UKDFBA, and to the first ever “Team UK” who have won their place in history with their performance and will always have a special place in my heart and my memory for joining me on the journey right from the start.

Lee Kemp
November 2011