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Miami Heralded: A Big Thumbs-Up for the Nationals

It is a full week now since the NPC Nationals, and people who worked the show in one way or another are just recovering—reporters, photographers, judges, staff and others—along with the athletes. Since my big trip to Miami for the big show—a record 943  competitors—included a side trip to Boca Raton to visit family followed by a hit-the-ground-running return to Los Angeles for the IRON MAN deadline, things have been a little surreal at my humble Hollywood hideaway. Still, it is nothing compared to what the guys and gals who worked almost every weekend this season, including all the pro-qualifiers  and myriad national qualifiers and IFBB pro shows, must be experiencing in terms of recovery.

Topping the record numbers at the NPC USA last July, the Nationals presented challenges from start to finish, yet the judges and backstage wizards, along with my longtime colleague Lonnie Teper onstage as the emcee, pulled it off. We were done in plenty of time for L.T. and I to shoot wrap-up videos with Dave Palumbo and Chris Aceto of, feed our faces at Jerry’s Deli (along with IM photog Roland Balik and Dave Liberman) and get a few hours of sleep before reconvening at the Gansevoort Hotel’s rooftop pool at 9 a.m. for J.M. Manion‘s traditional photo shoot of the champs for the NPC News.

Needless to say there was a bit of grumbling, with various suggestions being made for ways to tweak the schedule. At the Teen, Collegiate, Masters Nationals, promoter Gary Udit stages the finals for some competitions on Friday night, so that idea is out there. (I’d be in favor of something that would give my buddies the photographers and anyone else who doesn’t get one a rest break, but that’s not likely to shorten the proceedings.)

Folks are estimating that all the pro qualifiers but especially the USA and Nationals will continue growing in 2012, so it wouldn’t shock me if some tinkering is done before we pass the 1,000-competitors mark. With three classes attracting more than 50 competitors in Miami—the short class in women’s physique and the two taller classes in men’s physique, with one MPD class getting almost 70—it’s also not hard to predict that the PDs will be adding a height class or two, a testament to the success of those new competitions. As for saving some time, in some divisions everyone got to pose at the finals, and in others it was only the top 15; so we may see cutoffs in more divisions next time.

One place I didn’t hear grumblings was from the athletes. Those I spoke with were all having a fabulous time, and even the women who didn’t make the cut in their classes were smiling on Saturday night as they waited their turn onstage—more evidence that the folks who ran the marathon to put on the ’11 NPC National Championships had a huge success.

The biggest smiles of all, of course, were on the faces of those who made it to the photo shoot on Sunday morning, like the athletes pictured here: bikini overall champ Candy Agundez with men’s physique winners (from left) Matthew Acton, Miguel Aquilar and Anthony Scotti. Acton took the overall.
Look for my interviews with Candy and Matthew plus figure champ Julie Mayer-Hymen, women’s physique winner Kimmie Morgan and overall bodybuilding champ Michelle Cumings at

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