It is with great sadness that I must pass on attending the Atlantic City Pro festivities this year after the great time I had at the Trump Marina Casino Hotel in 2008. The ’09 event, which is scheduled for September 11 and 12, offers more fab opportunities to view some of the world’s best physiques than any show but the two biggies: the Olympia and Arnold Sports Festival. Though I can’t make the cross-country trek this time, if you’re within driving distance—or one of the many bus routes that lead to the land of lobster dinners, salt water taffy and slot machines, it’s a don’t miss.
Promoters Ron Goldstein and Stokley Palmer have managed to keep the prize money in the nicely above-average category. Combine that with the last-chance-to-qualify-for-the-O factor, and it’s no surprised that as of September 4 they had 104 pro athletes in men’s and women’s bodybuilding, men’s 202 and under, fitness, figure and masters figure (with crossovers) headed to the Jersey shore in search of a little pre-Olympia buzz.
That includes a couple of defending champions, with the women’s bodybuilding battle front and center. The obvious question: Will the 2008 one-two punch of Lisa Aukland and Mah-Ann Mendoza prevail again? Aukland, who sat out the ’09 International after a fourth-place finish at the ’08 Ms. O, is one of the most consistent bodybuilders in the sport and has won this three-year-old contest three times. Folks betting against her making it four for four might want to write that down.
Mah-Ann, who has one of the most aesthetically pleasing physiques in the sport, needs to qualify for the Olympia. If she comes looking the way she did last year, she could—but it’s not guaranteed.
Others on the list who are capable of making a top-three statement include Nicole, Ball and Klaudia Larson, smarting from their Super Show placings a couple of weeks ago, and Jen Sedia, who always gets the judges’ attention when she comes in shape. Ditto for Kristy Hawkins, who gets my vote for the girl most likely to penetrate the Olympia-invite circle.
The 22-woman lineup will also feature the pro debut of Rita Rae (speaking of symmetry) and also the debut, if I’m not mistaken, of ’06 National Lightweight champ Jamie Troxel.
In fitness the always entertaining Tracey Greenwood wants to repeat her 2008 win and then roll into the Olympia like a bowling ball headed straight for the head pin, Adela Garcia.
Also on hand will be Myriam Capes, fresh from her runner-up finish to Adela at the Super Show, as well as Nicole Duncan, Laticia “Action” Jackson, Tanji Johnson and Bethany Wagner, all possible contenders for a top-three spot. Also worth coming down to the shore for: the delayed-due-to-injury pro debut of ’07 Canadian champ Marnie Holley and the first ever Johnson v Johnson matchup. Is little sister Safiya ready to whip Tangie’s butt? Only in Jersey.
Last but not least are the two figure shows. This is the only masters figure contest on the IFBB-pro schedule and roughly 20 will heed the call—hot mamas!—with 29 expected to quarter-turn in the open.
The late entry of fitness and figure stalwart Shannon Meteraud into the two figure lineups keeps them from being the free-for-alls they were shaping up to be. Before Shannon signed on, I was willing to bet that Erin Stern was going to notch her first pro win before Olympia time. It could still happen, but look for Shannon, who won two fitness s hows earlier in the year, to take home some cash, in addition to possibly becoming qualified in a second sport.
I also like the chances of Candice John, Marie Ann Newman (in her pro debut), Sherlyn Roy, Nicole Pitcher-Scott and Elissa Schlichter for doing well in one or both of these lineups And look out for the return of Brazilian bombshell Larissa Reis.
Now I’m really feeling bummed about missing these four big battles shaping up. For the complete lineup for the Atlantic City Pro competitions, click here.
For complete info on the A.C. Pro weekend, including the NPC amateur event, click here.