Namibia’s first professional bodybuilder

ALETHEA Borman is the first and only local woman to qualify for the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) elite category.

Married with three children, the 41-year-old began bodybuilding in 1991 in Rehoboth and developed the love for the sport through the influence of her father Gertz Opperman and elder brother Jood, both former bodybuilders.

Jood is also a former rugby coach at Dolphins Rugby Club in Swakopmund and at Trustco United Rugby Club in Windhoek.

“I developed a passion for bodybuilding when I was 12 years old and my father a former bodybuilder for the coloureds division team in South Africa when Namibia was still South-West Africa made me fall for the sport. My brother was also a top bodybuilder in the country. The other reason I also decided to join bodybuilding is because it is a disciplined sport,” she explained.

Bodybuilding in Namibia disappeared from the year 2000 to 2014, hence Borman struggled to find events to participate in and ended up joining the South African Bodybuilding Federation since Namibia is not affiliated to any bodybuilding federation.

Borman has always been in podium positions at events she has been at, a sign that she has always been destined for success in a sport that is perceived as a man’s sport.

Her last participation at any bodybuilding event was in 2018 at the Arnold Classic Championships where she scooped the top prize and became the first Namibian to win an international body building event.

The only obstacle standing in her way to compete regularly on the international stage is the financial requirement. At least N$75 000 is required to cover one’s expenses when going to compete at international bodybuilding events.

“To compete internationally is so costly. We are talking about N$75 000 to N$80 000 per show. I do not have a sponsor. At times it is my family and friends that usually help me out to go and compete internationally.”

After seven consecutive years travelling around the world, Borman has put the sport she loves on hold for now, as she is recovering from a shoulder injury during the ongoing pandemic. She however, has no plans of retiring yet.

Her life also revolves around her three children and her husband with whom she shares her passion and receives the necessary support from.

“My coach and I decided to take a break last year after competing for seven years non-stop. Shows are currently on hold because of the uncertainty surrounding the impact of Covid-19. Since I am an IFBB Elite pro, all my shows are overseas.

“In January, me and my coach were busy preparing for the Arnold Classic Elite professional show however three weeks into preparations all shows were cancelled. Bodybuilding will always be part of my lifestyle. I will never stop bodybuilding. My dream … was to be the first professional bodybuilder in Namibia. I achieved this. So my dream is realised,” said Borman.

Being the only elite professional bodybuilder in the country Borman said she is relishing the pressure of continuing to put Namibia on the map.

“Bodybuilding is not yet developed in the country because those at the helm at of the Namibia Bodybuilding Association are just good at registration but not pushing for recognition of the association at the world stage. It is very simple as to why women are not in the sport of bodybuilding, this is because of different cultural beliefs and the stigma attached to it.”

Borman is a lawyer by profession and currently works as head of human resources at Swakop uranium mine.

Below are Borman’s achievements:

March 2009, second place at IFBBSA Shameen Classic Championships, May 2009,  fifth place finish at IFBB South African body fitness Championships, June 2010, second place at IFBB Evox muscle evolution, Western Province, South Africa, June 2014, second place finish at IFBB WP provincials, Western Province, South Africa, August 2015, second place finish at IFBB Western Province, Aug 2017, first place finish at IFBB Western Province, October 2014, fourth place at IFBB Joe Weider Amateur Olympia, South Africa, May 2016, second place at IFBB Arnold Classics Africa (short class), Nov 2017, 13th place at IFBB World championships, Biarritz, France and May 2018, first place at IFBB Arnold Classics Africa (short class ) – IFBB elite pro card.