Signs that Gulder Ultimate Search 11 will be thrilling, suspense-filled and even more exciting than previous editions have begun to manifest. Individuals that thronged the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for their regional selection exercises, were stunned by the new exercise regime introduced to eliminate the weaker contestants.
The newly introduced regional drilling process involved running and overcoming Gulder Ultimate Search styled obstacle courses; whereas in the past, contestants had to run, squat and race for balls.
Many of the contestants who had trained expecting the usual exercise routines had their hopes dashed as they crashed out. Peter Onogwu, a 28-year-old graduate of the Enugu State University of Technology expected to perform the same set of exercises this year, having scaled through last year.
Peter said: “This is my second time of trying for GUS. I actually was expecting the same exercise routine as that of last year’s. And I trained in the areas of 100 meters dash and squatting, but on getting here, I saw that the exercises had changed. And as you can see, it took me unawares. Even though I am physically fit, I was not prepared for this.”
According to him, last year’s exercise routines were more difficult. Peter added: “This year’s exercise was easier, but I will say that luck was not on my side. If you watched, when I tried to scale the pole, I fell down. That was where my misfortune started, not that it is difficult.”
Despite being a footballer that trains almost daily and also plays for the feeder team of a top Nigerian football club, 26-year-old Kingsley Ejindu could not qualify from the regional screening exercises.
He remarked: “I didn’t expect it because I was leading the race. When I got to the obstacle course, I did not crawl under the ropes well enough. That’s where I had the problem. I’m a footballer and I’ve done more than this because I’ve been playing for the Enyimba Football Club feeders’ team, so we’ve done more than this. But I didn’t listen to instructions. And I didn’t think through it well.”
Kingsley who came to the Port Harcourt GUS trials from Aba where he resides said he will try again in 2014.
Oginye Chimaobi, a 26-year-old graduate of the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri, also expected to run and squat. He believed that he would have had an easy passage if Gulder had stuck with the past exercises for the regionals. He is however optimistic that he’ll overcome these exercises next year.
Uche Ekeh, a student of the Abia State University (ABSU) was encouraged by his brother to register for GUS 11. The brother was confident that the ABSU student would easily overcome the GUS regionals. Unfortunately 21-year-old Uche crashed out at the beginning stage. He confessed: “This is my first time of participating. My brother believed I could do it, but to my greatest surprise I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t even go past the first stage.”
Gibson Beauty, a student of the University of Port Harcourt, took her time to read through the guidelines on the Gulder Ultimate Search registration website. She noted that “it was specified on the internet that this year was going to be different.” Despite her intuition that the exercises may change, having done her ‘internet research’, she could not go past the first stage.
Ekeh Samuel, a first time participant in Gulder Ultimate Search described the feeling of the contestants when they trooped into the Liberation Stadium on the first day of the trials. He remarked: “When we came in, we saw that construction was going on. We tried to find answers amongst ourselves on what was going on. We knew we could only find the answers when the trials commenced.”
Onyeka Okoli, the Senior Brand Manager – Gulder, Nigerian Breweries Plc. said the exercise overhaul was part of a grand design to ensure that both the contestants that would eventually make it to the Aguleri jungle and the millions of viewers who would watch from their homes would have a different Gulder Ultimate Search experience.
He said: “We decided to add a new twist to this year’s regional selection process because contestants had become used to the previous exercise regimen. We particularly wanted all those engaged in the selection process to have a feel of what the lucky individuals that eventually go into the jungle go through.”
He added that while the previous contestants scaled through based on their speed and stamina, the new drills tested contestants’ strength, endurance, attentiveness and cognitive skills.