Bodybuilding: Bikini babe eyes move to body shape class

By Ben Guild

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Tauranga woman Marianne O'Neill came up short in the tall bikini class at the New Zealand International Federation of Bodybuilding contest in Auckland but has taken plenty out of the experience.

The 25-year-old personal trainer, competing in her first-ever bodybuilding competition, failed to gain professional status awarded to the winner in a field of eight contestants.

"Unfortunately, I didn't place in this show. However, it was a good experience to get on stage for the first time here in New Zealand," said O'Neill.

"It has given me an insight into competitions to come in the near future."

The 2008 Ms Ireland contestant, who moved to New Zealand with her Kiwi husband while waiting for her Australian residency to be approved, said she now has no intention of leaving the country.

She plans to move up from the bikini competition - in which participants aspire to look like more athletic, toned Victoria's Secret models - to the body shape classification for another association's contest in Auckland in this month.

But first she wants to dispel some myths about the bikini competitions.

"It's good for people to know that it is different to bodybuilding - you don't have to do all the poses," said O'Neill.

"It is a sport, because you train so hard for it. It's not just a bikini competition."

Competing does not come cheap but O'Neill said spending $220 for a stage bikini alone was well worth it, given the motivating factor of preparing for a big event.

"I want to show people that having a goal is essential to getting the best results and leading a healthy, fit and active lifestyle."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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