It’s been three weeks since the last update here, but the IFBB pro schedule did not take a break. The star of the hour has got to be Amanda Latona, who made up for her seventh-place finish at the Olympia (a bit low, if you ask me) with a pair of wins in California, at the Border States in San Diego on October 27 and the Sacramento Pro on November 3. Go, Amanda!
Also noteworthy about the 5’5″ brunette from Pittsburgh by way of Las Vegas: The girl’s got a set of pipes on her, and I don’t mean her legs (although those, too, are fabulous). Of course I knew that Latona had started her career in the music business, but I’d never heard her let loose with a mic in her hand before the Olympia, where her rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” opened the show on Saturday night. Wow—and that’s a hard song to sing. Kudos for everything, kiddo.
Now for a recap of recent action, which started on October 21 with the big, all-girls Fort Lauderdale (Florida) Cup—with fitness, figure and bikini—plus pro shows in women’s physique and bikini in the far-flung corners of the world, Southern California and the United Kingdom.
October 21: Fort Lauderdale Cup, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The fitness show was big and full of potential. Picking up where she left off at the Sheru Classic, Oksana Grishina took top honors. No Adela Garcia in the lineup this time, but Grishina did soar over runner-up Bethany Cisternino and third-placer Regiane Da Silva in the talented lineup of 15.
Best performance by a newcomer: ’12 NPC Junior Nationals Overall champ Darrian Tissenbaum took fourth in both rounds to finish fourth overall in her pro debut. A nicely balanced body and an excellent routine—welcome to the pros, Darrian.
In figure Candice Lewis scored her second win in a row after the Houston Pro a week earlier. Kamla Mako, a ’12 NPC USA class winner, got on the Olympia-points board with a runner-up finish in the lineup of 20, while third went to a moonlighting-from-fitness Camala Rodriguez.
The bikini lineup included a fair share of newcomers among the 11 stride ‘n’ snappers. Yeshira Robles, coming off a ninth-place finish at the Olympia—and a win at her last show before the O, the Valenti Gold Cup in September—got the nod. Lacey Deluca, the ’12 NPC Junior National Overall champ, was second behind Yeshira at the Valenti Cup and repeated that placing here. Newcomer Gigi Amurao landed in third.
October 21: British Grand Prix Bikini, Manchester, United Kingdom
This contest took place alongside two big men’s shows, with the top spot—and an invite to the Bikini Olympia—going to homegirl Michelle Brannan. Only six competitors got onstage here, but it’s no reflection on Brannan, a smoking’ blonde who looks a bit like Jessica Paxson. Hungary’s Naomi Olah took second, and Tanja Canc, of Slovenia, was third.
October 21: Titans Grand Prix Women’s Physique, Culver City, California
I was really sorry to miss this competition—normally, I’d have been in the pit at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, but a wedding took me out of town that weekend. So I didn’t get to see the first pro win ever of symmetrical Sabrina Taylor, who was still competing in figure a year ago. Twenty sculpted athletes hit their shots on the Vet’s stage, and Patricia Mello had to settle for the runner-up spot. Another gal who was moonlighting from fitness, Venus Nguyen, may have found her niche—the judges placed her third.
October 27: Prague Pro Bikini, Prague, Czech Republic
Canada’s finest, Justine Munro, crossed the Atlantic to earn the title in a lineup of 13. Second went to Finland’s Anna Virmajoki, who was third in her class at the Arnold Amateur last March. Noemi Olah took third and picked up three more Olympia points, which put her in the lead in the points derby, at least for now.
October 27: Border States Pro Bikini, San Diego, California
The Southern California action moved south for this one. An even dozen women got onstage, but Latona and her dazzling stage presence were ready for them. Tiffany Marie Boydston and Stacy Alexander took second and third, respectively. In viewing the photos, I thought sixth-placer Taylor Matheny look swell and could have finished higher.
November 3: Kentucky Pro Muscle, Louisville, Kentucky
Ann Titone scored her second pro win—after the Tampa Pro last summer—which undoubtedly helped make up for her 12th-place finish at the Olympia. The score sheet shows 17 competitors, so it was a big win for Annie in multiple ways. Dana Ambrose, who got her pro card at ’12 Junior Nationals and took third in Houston, earned the runner-up spot, while another beginner, Bernita Stuckey, moved up from 13th in Houston to get third.
November 3: Sacramento Pro Bikini, Sacramento, California
This time Amanda headlined a lineup of 10. Tawna Eubanks, who is currently second on the Olympia points list for bikini, was the runner up, while Jessie Arevalo took third.
Find complete score cards and up-to-date Olympia standings at www.IFBBPro.com.
Photos (from top): Amanda Latona, Sabrina Taylor, Justine Munro and Ann Titone.