Update: The results Europa Battle of Champions, in Connecticut, started coming in just as I was finishing up this entry:
Women’s bodybuilding top three: 1) Brigita Brezovac, 2) Helen Bouchard, 3) Cathy LeFrancois.
Figure top three: 1) Candice Keene, 2) Terri Turner, 3) Gina Trochiana.
Bikini top three: 1) Dianna Dahlgren, 2) Jessica Jessie, 3) Diana Fields.
I hate being on deadline when things are happening—the excuse for not having recorded my sentiments regarding the IFBB Pro Bodybuilding Weekly events last weekend. Not that the world ended or anything, just that the developments down there in Tampa, Florida, were mighty interesting.
In the PBW Bikini event Team Universe sensation Nicole Nagrani continued her winning ways, trouncing the competition in her pro debut and leaving Jaime Baird to land in second again (she was runner-up at the Europa Show of Champions last spring and third at the Pittsburgh Pro). Third place in the lineup of 10 went to another hot new pro who got her card two weeks ago at the T.U., Vanessa Campbell, with all three earning invites to the Bikini Olympia in September.
Diana Fields in fourth and Kat Holmes rounded out the top five.
What’s so interesting about those developments? For one thing it sets up a showdown for the O with the season’s earlier sensation, Nathalia Melo. Those (like me) who were thinking Melo’s future as the first Big O bikini champ was assured may want to think again.
Also noteworthy for the return to competition of figure star Dina Al-Sabah, who managed sixth and should have no trouble getting into the swing of her division if she keeps going.
Interesting as all that was, it didn’t hold a candle to the drama in the PBW Women’s Bodybuilding battle, where another auspicious pro debut upset a greater expectation than that it was Jaime Baird’s time to move into the winner’s. The expectation was that New York Pro champ Cathy LeFrancois would be the big winner in what turned out to be a 28-woman lineup. The reality is, she got hustled, tussled and outmuscled by newcomer Brigita Brezovak, a Slovenian flexer who finished second at the World Championships in 2009 (above photo courtesy of rxmuscle.com.) Also by one-time middleweight champ Tina Chandler, who added some size and sizzle to her symmetry to surprise pretty much everyone by taking second. That left LeFrancois in third.
It looked like a great call to this far-off observer. Brezovak is the real deal—long, full muscles and plenty of 'em; structure and proportion to die for and outstanding separation. She had more than enough of everything to challenge for the top spot, and the judges didn’t hesitate.
Their choice of Chandler for the runner-up Olympia qualification was also a good call. Much has been made of the fact that Tina has put on eight pounds of muscle since she turned pro at the ’07 NPC Nationals, but I thought it was her excellent conditioning that pushed her past LeFrancois in Tampa. More definition than perhaps she’s ever achieved gave the extra muscle maximum pop. She and Cathy were tied after the judging, but by evening the panel had made up its mind.
Helen Bouchard finished fourth, with Nicole Ball landing in the top five. Both those ladies were on their game, so you can imagine how deep the talent was in that big lineup.
As I write this, Brigita and Cathy are flexing it out with 18 others at the Europa Battle of Champions in Hartford, Connecticut; so we’ll see if this history repeats itself. [As you've undoubtedly noted above, it did].
• Tracey Greenwood retired from competition. According to a press release from Fitness Management Group, the 41-year-old Delaware diva, who finished third at the Fitness Olympia last year and has been as high as second, has been dealing with lingering injuries and felt it was time to move on. Not that she’ll be far from our view—or our hearts. A college professor in her day job, Greenwood promotes three NPC shows and over the past year or so has slipped into a key expediter role at many big NPC and IFBB events.
• Davana Medina pulled out of the Battle of Champions Pro Bikini event. No reason was given (nor does she owe us one). The bottom line: We may see the first Fitness O champ on a pro bikini stage later this year, or we may not.
A couple of weeks ago, when I was writing the then-breaking item about Davana’s return to competition, I couldn’t help comparing it to a breaking news item of a few weeks before that: Monica Brant’s jumping from the IFBB (after all these years) to join Paul Dilett’s upstart Canadian World Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation. That item I did not get to blog about in a timely manner, as it occurred during the worst of last month’s deadline. Still, it was a pretty big story (I laughed…I cried…), and I didn’t mean to overlook it Now I read on the Web site that broke the story that everything that’s been said about Brant’s decision has already been said; so I guess I’ll keep my naughty thoughts to myself—at least until I talk with Mo.
Photos (from top): Brigita Brezovac (courtesy of Rxmuscle.com), Tracey Greenwood and Monica Brant.