By Margaret Kamba
Shock at his first-time win in a competition propelled Simba Mhaka to pursue sports at an advanced level, giving him the pride to represent Zimbabwe globally.
The 35-year-old Instrumentation and Control Systems graduate grew up in Kwekwe and moved to Harare, where he started his bodybuilding and fitness journey.
The body-building athlete chose this sport in 2015 because of its ability to keep him fit and healthy.
"By being active all times, body-building helps to burn extra fat in your body and makes you look nice, which gives confidence in every person," Mhaka says.
"Being fit makes a person resistive to some other diseases like flue ,diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and others.
"I started body-building in Fitness in 2015 . Then, after I finished my diploma, I just thought of finding a gym to train to keep myself fit, and that's when the thought of trying to compete came in my mind. I had to give it a try, and shockingly, I came fourth on my first show, and that placing gave me so much hope and trust in myself," said Mhaka.
"I started representing Zimbabwe in 2016, and I have learnt a lot from those international competitions. People say a lot about countries, but competing outside Zimbabwe has honestly made me more proud of my country.
It's unlike what people say. It's not a very hard thing to win an international show, and I have proved them wrong. A Zimbabwean can be a World Champion in every sport."
With the experience gained over time, Mhaka says he is willing to share this with whoever wants.
"I have gained so much experience from these high-level competitions which I'm willing to share with whoever wants to start his or her journey in the fitness industry."
Those in the industry know that this is not an easy sport because of the expenses incurred and the preparation it demands.
Mhaka therefore says "Financial problems tried to push me out, but with the love of the sport, I resisted. Buying diet meals and some food supplements was a challenge for me during my preparations because for an athlete to have a perfect physique, it's the combination of training and clean diet," he said.
"As for training, I was ok, but eating was big hustle exacerbated by the traveling expenses and accommodation. Due to this pressure, sometimes I felt like quitting. Fortunately, I pushed myself hard up to where I am now."
Speaking about the science of the sport, Mhaka said, "Fitness an ability to used your body to perform an exercise or ability to move your muscle biomechanically to develop a muscle. But we have to agree there are people who are just genetically gifted, people who have good body-building and fitness genes. These types of people have got a better advantage in sports. They dont put the same effort as those who are building from an unmatched physique."
The love of the sport helped his family to be supportive.
"My family is very supportive, and they cheer me up. At first, they were a bit quiet over it until they understood that body-building is something I love from inside," he said.
"The country is also supportive because every international show I go to, Iget my clearance letter from SRC, and just that is a clear sign of support from the country."
He lamented the number of qualifying spots for Zimbabweans and Africa as a whole.
"To select a team, we run what we call selection shows. However, not all professional atheletes do selection shows because they receive invitation letters. So in Africa we have limited numbers of pro-athletes who qualify automatically so we run those qualifying shows to select the team for amateurs. Unfortunately, for 2023, I'm the only one who managed to go and represent Zimbabwe at World Championships, while Africa had a total of only five athletes."