Is it my imagination or has there been an unheard-of game of musical chairs taking place in the lineups for the Ms., Fitness and Figure International competitions since the invites came out in December? I’ve been having a little R&R from the P&C desk (and only occasionally checking the headlines at hardbody.com), but it was hard not to notice when the women started dropping like flies—that is, dropping out of or into the pro lineups for the big Columbus, Ohio, weekend known as the Arnold Sports Festival, which is set for March 4 through 7.
So much for the notion that nothing happens during the off-season. When I heard the other day via the girlfriend express that Tonie Thompson (pictured here) had been added to the Ms. I list, it was time to get back to work.
Most of the withdrawals were due to injuries or other health issues. The ladies who had to pass were all key contenders—defending champ Jen Hendershott and Tracey Greenwood in fitness, Heather Armbrust in bodybuilding and Kristal Richardson and Jessica Putnam in figure. That said, I would be remiss not to point out that the three sitting Olympia champs—Iris Kyle, Adela Garcia and Nicole Wilkins Lee— are all still Columbus bound and dieting.
Recently invited to join the fun onstage in Ohio by ASF promoter Jim Lorimer were three athletes who I’m guessing came close to making the cut originally: Thompson in women’s bodybuilding, Cristiana Cassoni in figure and Bethany Wagner in fitness. They’re all wonderful choices, and I look forward to seeing them onstage at the judging on Friday morning, March 5, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The accompanying photo of Tonie is one I saved after the ’09 New York Pro, and I’m thrilled to have a chance to display it.
Here are the competitor lists, one month out:
Yaxeni Oriquen Garcia
Regiane Da Silva
Heather Mae French
Nicole Wilkins Lee