A ROAD LESS TRAVELLED: THE STORY OF ALETHEA BORMAN

By: Joviita Kandjumbwa

A wonder WOMAN: At the young age of 14 Alethea Borman fell in love with body building a love inspired by her father who was a bodybuilder at the time, has sent her on a journey no Namibian woman has ever been on, a career spanning over 20 years and numerous achievements Borman retires from professional body building and takes over as the new IFBB Namibia President.

In an exclusive interview with SRSM Borman takes us through her journey of being the first and only Namibian Professional body builder to attain elite status and her plans to revive body building in Namibia and give young body builders the exposure they deserve.

Who is Alethea Borman?

Alethea Borman hails from the beautiful Land of the Brave, Namibia. A holder of 2 law degrees, B. Juiris and LLB from the University of Namibia.

My proudest moment during my university years was being selected as the best LLB law student of my class, in addition I am also an admitted legal practitioner in the High Court of Namibia with 18 years of experience as a legal professional. Currently I am the head of the Compliance, risk and Management department at the world’s 2nd largest uranium producing company, furthermore I am an executive member of the Namibian Women’s Lawyers association. 

Apart from my professional career, I loves sports. I hold national colours is Netball and the first and only Namibian to have ever won an international body building event, The Arnold Classics thus becoming the first ever IFBB Elite pro athlete for my country.

Lastly, I am also a mother of three (3) and happily married for more than 20 years.

What kind of influence did your family have in you choosing a path in sports?

Sport is merely my hobby. There is really no money in Professional body building in Namibia yet. . My dad used to be a body builder, my brother also competed in body building. I just fell in love with the sport at the age of 14 years and I just never stopped.  My husband and children are super supportive and were always by my side whenever I used to compete. I have since retired from professional body building and my focus now is to help Namibian athletes compete internationally. Although I have since retired I still keep fit and have turned to cross fit at the Swakopmund cross fit box.

Take us through your journey as a bodybuilder and the moment you decided to take it seriously and become a professional?

My first competition was at the tender age of 14 years. I had already decided then, this is my love. However body building died down and only in 2006 I decided to get back on stage and started preparing for Ms. Fitness South Africa.

Did you part-take in other sports or has it always been bodybuilding?

I hold National colours in Netball for the Namibia A under 20 team and was also the captain of that team the 2nd year of my selection. I also hold national colours in under 21 A Team for netball.

I was also good in athletics and right now I have an interest in cross fit which I do under the supervision of my coach, Jancke Rentel.

Being the only professional bodybuilder in Namibia, how has that impacted your life?

I think because of the low interest in the sport, I don’t think it had any major impact. There has never been any acknowledgement from my country at all for my achievements in the sport. However seeing as this is merely my hobby, I don’t think I took enough time to put it out there in the public.

Looking back at when you started bodybuilding what would you say are some of the major positive changes you have seen in the sport?

When I started, there was no competitions in Namibia. I had to travel to South Africa to compete and qualify. That has changed, there are now a couple of shows already being held here in Namibia, which is a plus. The sport is small and with more events coming up it can only increase the number of athletes, and improve their condition.

Congratulations on your appointment as President, what does it mean for you to achieve this milestone.

First I have to get the ball rolling and establish IFBB Namibia. I also need to get people who share my passion to help me with the management and events for the future.

What is your vision for bodybuilding in Namibia?

For it to be a platform where our athletes can show case their talent and take that talent and show the world the best of Namibian Body building.

What are some of the challenges that still need to be overcome for the sport to grow in Namibia?

I think the biggest challenge is understanding the sport and sponsorship. Body building in really still almost an unknown sport in Namibia but its only now starting to pick up. Sponsorship to host an event or even compete internationally is really hard to come by.

Is there still stigma towards women bodybuilders?

Off course. The first thing I always hear especially from women, is “I don’t want to look like a man”. “Honey” you have to train super hard, eat right and push some serious iron to even remotely look like that. A positive aspect though is that the sport itself has grown to accommodate more athletes and their physiques over the years.

Also the use of steroids is something that has always been strongly linked to the sport and the extreme muscularity of some women.

What does it take for a women to become a bodybuilder?

Hard hard work, commitment, discipline, consistency and a thick skin. A lot of people will want to steer you away, don’t listen wait until the results show.

Is there a huge interest for women to join bodybuilding? If no what are some of the common reasons to not partake?

There has been an increase in female participation. And I am overjoyed by this. Because of the inclusion of more divisions under woman, more women are seen entering the sport. I believe this sport will still grow bigger in Namibia.

What are the pros and cons of becoming a bodybuilder as a women?

PRO: the discipline, people stare they will stare a lot it’s not always a bad thing, the journey, the end result, making new friends, lessons learnt , example you become for others, you look good naked, and lastly you feel good.

Cons:  has to be the lack of support and understanding.

What categories are there for women in bodybuilding competitions and how are they judged? 

The categories are:

Beach Bikini, Fitness Bikini, Ladies wellness, body fitness, physique, and fit model

As a mom and wife, how did you juggle being an athlete as well?

I just don’t have a social life, (smiles). I think the recipe is not to think too much about where you get time. Make every minute count and cut out things that don’t add value to your life. So i don’t have time for TV or going out. My happy times are in the gym and with my children and family.

Do you think there is enough recognition for women in sports?

No. I think there is still a long way to go for equal recognition. Equal recognition does not only mean recognition as an athlete, but also in sponsorship and pay. So no. We still have a long way to go.

What is your advice for women who want to get into bodybuilding?

I want every woman to start with a healthy lifestyle. However if you want to compete, Set a date for your show and start planning. Every minute and every day counts. Become the best version of you.

Fun facts:

What most people don’t know about you: I am an introvert. I don’t like going out at all. I have a thing for tekkies.

Age: 43

Biggest achievement in bodybuilding: Won the 2018 Arnolds champs and awarded Elite Pro Card

Other achievements: some notable ones being the 2017 Western Province champion, 2014 International event – 4th at the amateur Olympia,   2016 – 2nd at the Arnolds (lost to a Russian athlete) and in 2017 at the IFBB World CHampions – 13th .

Role model:  Cory Everson

What is your diet like: Oats, egg white, chicken breast, rice and sweet patotoes, greens lots and of greens. Tuna (chilly ones are the best).

What is your favorite muscle group: the back.

To win a competition how long does it take to train: Depends on the amount of muscle you have, it can take from 1 year to 3 years.

“Body building has taught me discipline and consistency. What the sport teaches you, filters through to the rest of what you do and how you peruse things. I always try my best to give my best in anything I do.” Borman.

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