When Amanda Latona failed to finish in the top three at the Bikini Olympia in September, no one was more surprised than this reporter. Based on the way my male colleagues have reacted to the sultry brunette from Las Vegas since she hit the fledgling bikini scene last year, I had come to believe, despite my prediction otherwise, that she might win it. Not that there's anything wrong with a fifth-place finish at the O, but when expectations are that high, the disappointment has got to be even higher when the athlete doesn't bring it—or enough of it—to the big show.
Not to worry about Amanda, who found her mojo at the Sacramento Pro Bikini Grand Prix on November 6, scoring a unanimous win in a fine-looking lineup of 11. “Awesome,” “stunning,” “amazing” and “blew everyone away” were just a few of the superlatives I heard from observers (all right, it was Ron Avidan), and the photos bear them out. Even in the stills you can see a spark that was not quite there at the O—and perhaps she was also a little tighter.
All the placings in the top five were unanimous. Runner-up Jessica Putnam also appeared to be tighter than she was at the Olympia, where she landed in 12th, and Natalie Pennington, 11th at the O and second at the Houston Pro last month, took third at this top-three Olympia qualifier. So Jess was the new addition to the '11 Bikini O lineup.
Laura Caulderon, who had her fans in the house, took fourth in her pro debut, and Vanessa Prebyl, third in Houston, rounded out the top five.
This weekend the eyes of the physique world move cross country and back to figure, with some 27 ladies (as of November 5) set to quarter-turn at the Kentucky Muscle Pro Figure.
Photo of Amanda Latona by Ron Avidan.
Here are the complete results from the Sac:
'10 Sacramento Pro Bikini Grand Prix
1) Amanda Latona*
2) Jessica Paxson-Putnam*
3) Natalie Pennington*
4) Laura Calderon
5) Vanessa Prebyl
6) Leigh Brandt
7) Safiya Johnson
8) Jennifer Dietrick
9) Theresa Byrne
10) Sherlyn Roy
11) Nita Marquez
*Qualifies for the ’11 Bikini Olympia.