When Godfrey Lubega was announced second at the 2021 Mr Kampala Championship on Saturday, he rubbed his nape, nodded and blinked in disbelief.
He had been so confident of winning yet the judges thought he was not good enough. Now it was evident Daniel Mwesigwa had dethroned Lubega for the Mr Kampala 2021 crown.
Lubega even avoided media interviews. "I'll talk to you later. I'm still shocked," is all he said Saturday evening as he sauntered out of Qibz Gym in Kyebando.
"My coach never wanted me to compete here but I told him I had to, because my potential sponsors wanted me to retain trophy but now the deal has flopped," he later said by phone.
Lubega was even bitterer off-record. Yet he was not the only disgruntled fellow.
Such was the level of competition or discontent that almost each loser thought they deserved the victory.
"If I didn't win at least [Martins] Baguli should have," said Ronald Kariitwa, who finished fourth.
Some fans said Axam Kisekka, who finished fifth, deserved a top three spot.
Baguli, who travelled from Gulu for the event, has even lost count of his disappointments.
"This does not encourage me much because I do not invest so much to come here and lose, not once but several times," he said with sheer dejection. "Maybe the judges do not know what they are doing."
Baguli was equally dejected when he finished second to Lubega at the 2019 Mr Kampala Championship.
"Mwesigwa deserved fourth position," Lubega said.
'I was the best'
But Mwesigwa, of STS gym, attributed his victory to experience and hard work since 2016.
"It's not a big deal if my rivals are not contented; I have earned this out of experience and hard work," he said. "My competitors were equally good but I was the best."
Mwesigwa had won the lightweight division to reach the final, against five other category winners, all seasoned contenders - except debutant Godfrey Ssekanzi - and in competitive shape.
The contest was tight but the judges preferred Mwesigwa for his better muscle display and stage endurance.
"It's one thing to have the muscles and another to display them whenever required on stage," chief judge Steven Ssali, who is also the national coach, told Daily Monitor yesterday.
"To win a bodybuilding contest, you need the best muscle exposure and stage endurance to hold the muscles even longer than the judge requires, and with ease. Sometimes just facial expression can be the difference between two good competitors."
Ssali attributes the complaints to high expectations and the difference between "seeing and judging."
Ssaamanya Ssentongo, who claims to be an internationally certified judge, added that some athletes fail because they concentrate on showing some muscles and neglect others.
"If I call for the abdominal-and-legs pose, I need to see all the muscles involved. And they must rhyme. But most concentrate on the packs, ignoring the obliques."
Oblique muscles are the largest and outermost of the three flat abdominal muscles.
Meanwhile, before Mwesigwa became the sixth different winner in the past six editions, Swafar Tamale became the first amputee to hit the Ugandan bodybuilding stage.
Yakub Bin Hassan won the Men's physique category, as Peruth Tumuheirwe won the women's fitness category.
Mr Kampala Champs
1.Daniel Mwesigwa Lightweight
2.Godfrey Lubega Welterweight
3.Martins Baguli Middleweight
4.Ronald Kariitwa Lightheavy
5.Axam Kisekka Bantamweight
6.Godfrey Ssekanzi Heavyweight
Amputee: Swafar Tamale
Mr Physique: Bin Hassan
Miss Fitness: Peruth Tumuheirwe