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CHICAGO – After Sandi Forrest won two gold medals in body building at the Gay Games last week, she wanted to make a phone call to the woman she cherishes most.
“If anyone wants to know if there’s a woman in my life: Yes, her name is Faith,” says Forrest from Chicago the day after she won her second medal.
With her hands cupped over her eyes, she takes a deep breath and continues, “She’s my mother. She has Alzheimer’s.”
Forrest, 45, shared the news of her success at the Games with her three sisters, friends back home in Ferndale and co-workers (or “orange peeps” as she refers to them) at Home Depot, where Forrest manages eight stores as the district auditor.
Even Tula, the hot dog attendant at Home Depot, gave her a buzz.
“Tula’s a sweetheart, she really is,” Forrest says.
As text messages and phone calls flooded in, Forrest basked in the glory of a dream she’s had since she began body building over 20 years ago.
“That complete adoration and acceptance, it’s what Tom Waddell was talking about when he founded these Games,” she says. “He wanted to just keep recreating that feeling, and I felt it. … It was like standing hand-in-hand with a lot of people who have been there.”
During the first day of physique competition, Forrest waited anxiously as she went head-to-head with a burly woman who towered over Forrest’s petite 5-foot-2-inch and 104-pound physique.
“I realized that the next person’s name they said was going to be the silver medalist,” she says.
With her head down and her fists clenched, Forrest nervously waited for her name not to be called. “I went here expecting to get this and that’s a big risk to believe in something that strongly,” she says. “You put your ego, your time, your money, you put everything in it ’cause you believe it.”
And Forrest believed in it enough to win, first in the woman’s single competition and then again in teams with a 51-year-old male body builder. “I owned it, I felt it,” she says. “I soaked it up.”
Before the competition, Forrest says she was tempted to use anabolic steroids, something she’s never tried.
“I was kind of surprised at how tempted I was ’cause I really, really wanted to win,” she says. “That’s why I was considering it. Then I thought, ‘Shit, if I win, I’m gonna feel kind of like a cheater and it’s gonna ruin something that’s really important to me.'”
After the competition ended, Forrest returned to the condo she stayed at, strayed from the healthy diet she’d stuck to earlier in the week and ate a chicken burrito, a muffin and some malted milk balls.
“I kind of raided the refrigerator last night,” Forrest says. “There wasn’t a whole lot to eat today ’cause I ate it all last night.”
Forrest ate plenty of protein, including a foot long turkey sub with double meat on whole wheat bread, before her routine, which included arm, leg and symmetry poses.
Once she’s in her 50s, Forrest doesn’t plan on simply competing. “Oh, not compete, honey, win,” she says. “I’m a gold medal champion now. It’s not even about competing. I’ll just enjoy my sport from here on out.”