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An open book: Prince George bodybuilder hoping international qualifier can write new chapter on life and sport

Kendall Kershaw set to compete in Ontario with plenty of support by her side

What could arguably be the greatest achievement of a Prince George woman’s amateur sport career is within her grasp.

Kendall Kershaw’s excitement can’t be contained for what will be her third appearance at an international pro-bodybuilding qualifier in Ontario this week after months of preparation among all the craziness COVID-19 has thrown her way.

The 2020 Toronto Pro Qualifier, which has now been moved to Hamilton by way of the pandemic’s effect on the province and its recent inclusion of ‘red zones,’ has been at the forefront of Kershaw’s mind as she looks to finally earn her card in the bikini competition.

In her last two shows, the local fitness coach has brought back a bronze (2018) and silver medal (2019), but believes her time is now.

“I’m pretty confident that the judges are wonderful in giving us descriptive feedback after every competition,” she explained in an interview with PrinceGeorgeMatters today (Nov. 16).

“They told me to come back this year and that I’d have that wonderful chance of getting to first place. Teaming up with a coach that knows what he’s doing is great. I’ve followed up with his plan with no questions and I’m feeling very good going into the competition on Saturday (Nov. 21).”

In a normal year, Kershaw would be doing more competitions, but COVID-19 forced many cancellations, causing many other athletes to adjust physical and mental-training patterns.

She says she needed a ‘game-changer’ in order to put a support team behind her for 2020, which has included professionals, her immediate family and her fiancé Tyler.

“I wanted to be able implement my own practices into my own bodybuilding, even though it was a bit less traditional. This year, I’m not doing that, but I’ve also hired a coach. So by having someone overseeing my progress and stuff like that, I’ve been able to let go of a lot of stress and really focus on fine-tuning, which I think has helped me get more to an advanced stage.”

Kershaw has been on the bodybuilding stage since 2015 upon graduating from Prince George Secondary, where she spent several waking hours in the gym during, what she calls, a difficult time in her life and had attempted a change for the better physically, mentally and emotionally.

She says she got noticed by a friend who believed she had ‘tenacity’ to compete in bodybuilding, which immediately kickstarted her drive to win.

“I thought she was crazy at the time, but I was just so in love with the elegance and the strength that the women had on stage,” Kershaw said, while also adding the work has involved many, many 4:30 a.m. alarms.

“It ends up becoming very much like a job where there are days when you don’t want to do it at all. The biggest factor is the discipline knowing I need to work on my stuff in order to reach my goals, but also, I work with a lot of wonderful ladies at my job that help with my energy and being able to put everything out there. That’s what helps me get up in the morning.”

In her off time, Kershaw has pursued other interests such as starting a business and modelling.

This past summer, she eyed to be the next Maxim Cover Girl and though she received lots of support from her hometown, it wasn’t enough to get her past the quarter-final round.

Kershaw says though bodybuilding require lots of commitment to perform at the highest level, the negative criticism competitors may receive must be endured in order to grow.

“There’s going to be times when I want to quit and I have to keep my thought patterns on the right track. I’ve gotten really good that if something nasty comes in my head, I can just eliminate it pretty quick because I won’t want that to interfere with my workout. I’m gaining more mental stamina and more mental discipline. Those nasty mental thoughts could really make or break you.

“I’ve been prepping really intensely since Jan. 3, so when people see my rigorous workouts, I don’t look in the mirror as much anymore because it ends up not being as much about that as people would think,” Kershaw added when asked if those critics can be a bother when talking about physique and outer appearances. 

“Granted, when you go on stage and have like, 12 gentlemen literally judging you solely based on your looks, yes, it’s vanity, but for the competitors, what drives us is the intensity leading up to show day. It’s not as much as what we look like in that moment, but how part we’re pushing it.”

Those experiences, however, could soon be paid off.

Regardless of results this weekend, to which Kershaw get to show off a bedazzled face-covering to match her outfit, the bikini contender says the most important outcome has always been to finish what she started a half-decade ago.

“I think, for me, it’ll just be continuing to enjoy the sport. I have more focus’ like modelling and my business and even things like making sure that I have that really close relationship with my family and my fiancé that I do want to have. I think it’s an open book after I win my pro card.”

Kershaw is also looking forward to another competition ritual enjoyed by all each year once the curtain falls.

“Celebrating with my mom and my fiancé in the hotel room. We’re going to be safe and obviously going to limit our contact while we’re there; unfortunately, my dad won’t be able to come this year, but I’m looking forward to, win or lose, I know that we’ve overcome so much this year and there’s been a lot of success personally. So I’ll be enjoying a couple glasses of wine and a big box of pizza.

“Oh, and Skittles too!”