Perusing the competitor lists from the still-to-come Atlantic City pro shows in all three women’s sports on September 14 and 15 plus Tournament of Champions Pro Figure, in Anaheim, California, on September 23 and the Santa Susanna Pro Fitness, in Spain, on September 23, I see opportunities for numerous hardworking ladies to qualify to make their Olympia debuts on the 28th at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Most intriguing is the list of bodybuilders headed for Atlantic City, starting with a pair of pro deb-utantes who are on a roll. Debbie Bramwell and Debi Laszewski were second and third, respectively, in the lightweight class at the Europa Super Show a couple of weeks ago. Only the class winners get qualifications when there are weight classes, but with no divisions in A.C., either or both of them could slide into a top-three, go-to-the-O spot. Ditto for Canada’s Helen Bouchard, who’s looking to repeat (at least) her second-place showing of 2006, and Beth Roberts, who was third in the heavies at the Europa.
One talented newcomer scheduled to make her pro debut in A.C. is Nicole Ball, the ’06 Canadian Middleweight and Overall champ, who’s coached by Bouchard. I’m also glad to see that Carla Salotti, who’s been hiding backstage inside her Pro Tan gloves all summer, is getting onstage again.
I wish I could be in the press pit for Ron Goldstein and Stokely Palmer’s second annual battle of the beach (darn those deadlines!). The fitness show looks good too, although I suspect there will be more entries than the seven listed as of a week ago. (Speaking of gals who are on a roll, this one looks like it could be Julie Lohre’s all the way, but I don’t want to jinx it for her.)
Speaking of Canadians, one persevering fitness athlete who could finally get the call to the Olympia stage is Sandra Wickham. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t thrilled when Sandy moved way up to fourth place at the All-Star Pro Fitness a week after the Europa Super Show last month. At last report she was packing her bags—and her momentum—for Santa Susanna, where pro shows in fitness and men’s bodybuilding have been added to the massive IFBB World Amateur Women’s Bodybuilding, Fitness and Body Fitness (figure) Championships weekend.
The lineups for the last two figure qualifiers—in A.C. and Cali—don’t look too large, as yet. Could it be that the huge stock of Olympia-hungry figure challengers has actually been sated by the 13 contests that will have taken place before we get to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for the big show in three weeks? Debbie Leung and Michelle Adams are two vets who’ll be giving it one more shot in Atlantic City, along with East Coast fave Jelena Abbou.
One thing’s for certain, the ’07 IFBB pro season will be action-packed to the very end. For info and up-to-date competitor lists, check out the Atlantic City Pro at www.IFBB-NPCAtlanticCityProAm.com, the Tournament of Champions at www.MuscleContest.com and Santa Susanna Pro at www.StaSusannaFitWeekend.com.
Photos (from top): Debbie Bramwell, Nicole Ball and Julie Lohre.