MARIGOT--Florencia Hunt, the US-based former track athlete from St. Martin, recently obtained four International Federation of Bodybuilding (IFBB) Pro Cards at the National Team Masters Championship in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, an achievement that has opened doors to future bodybuilding and fitness events as a professional.

  Hunt, a personal trainer who lives in Boston, Massachusetts, was competing in the Figure categories at the event on July 18, entering in the 35- and 40-plus classes. She won both classes in her height category to obtain two Pro Cards and a further two Pro Cards for winning overall in both the 35- and 40-plus categories in E class. There were six height categories designated by letters A to F.
  For Hunt this latest triumph over adversity – she is a cancer sufferer – is the culmination of months of dedication and hard work. It is a remarkable comeback after taking off all of 2018 to recover from knee and shoulder surgeries. Now as a professional, she will be able to earn money by obtaining sponsorships, making posing appearances and having a wider selection of events to enter.
  “The goal was to gain muscle mass after the last competition I did on March 23, where I came third in the 35-plus and 40-plus categories and which was the first competition I did in 2019,” Hunt explained. “In preparation for the Nationals the goal was to build and eat well and that’s what I did. I was training for six days a week, for between one-and-a-half hours to three hours. I increased my protein and carbohydrate intake so I could go grow to the size I needed. And I had to monitor my diet very carefully.”
  Hunt last competed in St. Martin in July 2017, at the Inter-Island Championship event at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino and Spa, which was organised by the Bodybuilding and Fitness Association of St. Martin (BFASM). In this competition, she won her class.
  Her cancer diagnosis in 2009 put an end to what would have been a very promising career in athletics.
  When asked about her knee and shoulder injuries, she said these were old injuries that she had not taken care of before. “Once I got into the bodybuilding field those injuries began to get more irritated so I decided to take the time off to do two surgeries back-to-back, three months apart.”
  Her immediate goal is to gain more mass before she makes her professional debut at an event in Washington, D.C., in October. She disclosed that she has another Pro Card from the Organisation of Competition Bodies (OCB), which promotes all-natural competition. This was obtained in 2017. Her latest IFBB Pro Cards are from the National Physique Committee (NPC). The upcoming competition in October is an OCB event.
  She revealed that she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment during the competition in March. “It was very challenging. But I was very pleased and took my third place as an accomplishment, despite the odds stacked against me. It encouraged me to enter the next competition in July, but I stopped the chemo [chemotherapy – Ed.] for that one.
  “Right now, my health is pending. There are not many options at the moment. I had to stop the chemo because it was affecting my heart function. So now the doctors are looking for other solutions and options to keep me stable. I am in a lot of pain every day but this sport is my distraction. It really helps me get through the pain. Going through chemo and rigorous training and trying to eat right all at the same time is not a great idea and I only get about four hours of sleep a night. It takes a big toll on the body. But it works for me and I’m okay.”
  Hunt looks up to 2-time Figure Olympian Cydney Gillon, who is the 2019 Figure International winner at the Arnold Classic, as a role model in bodybuilding. “She’s top notch, a beautiful all-round package, and definitely my inspiration,” she said.
  Hunt views her success in obtaining the Pro Cards of two different federations in a relatively short three years as humbling, since many athletes spend years trying to obtain their Pro Cards in the bodybuilding world. “I put in the work and got what I wanted,” she emphasised.
  No one is prouder of her achievements than her father, Francois “Cuchi” Hunt. “It’s a great success for her because she has been working towards this for some time,” he said. “Her determination is not something new to me. From the time she wanted to be an athlete she always had this strong will to win, not to give up. Since the early days she has been winning and bringing glory back to this island.
  “Thank God she did not give up after the cancer diagnosis. She found the motivation to take up a new sport to occupy her mind, to use her natural physical abilities to her advantage and to keep fighting the disease. It is really helping her to put the illness secondary in her mind. It isn’t the sport that I really love but when you have children you support them in their choices. I supported her and the whole family supports her.”