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New York Muscle Comin' Up

824rb1127“If ever there was a contest where the judges will have the opportunity to reward some of the so-called smaller, more feminine female flexers, the upcoming New York Pro Women’s Bodybuilding Championship is it.” I concocted that opening line some weeks ago, before I knew that Cathy LeFrancois would be defending her title at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in lower Manhattan on May 16, a.k.a. this Saturday. Not that I’d be betting against the 5’2” Canadian’s chances for repeating or at least nabbing a top-three finish (she’s already qualified for the Olympia by virtue of her sixth-place finish at the ’08 Ms. O). It’s just that Cathy, at least in my mind, no longer is classified under the heading of “smaller female flexers” but, rather, with those who are short but have enough muscle to hang with the big girls, like, for example, Dayana Cadeau.

Another person whose chances of snagging a top-three spot I would not bet against is veteran Betty Pariso, who had to drop out of the Ms. International in March due to illness and who does need to qualify for the big show this year.

oly02_163nlewiswbLess certain to make the winner’s circle—and getting an Olympia invite makes you a winner—but still a strong possibility is another vet, Nancy Lewis, who’s returning to the stage after her second vacation from competition (I won’t say retirement). Lewis’ stock in trade is sensational symmetry rather than an excess of musculature, and if she looks as good as the last time she returned to competition , at the ’04 Jan Tana Classic, when she took the middleweight and overall crowns, that possibility becomes seriously stronger.

Does that mean I think Cathy, Betty and Nancy will for sure take the top-three spots? Don’t be silly—and besides, you know how I love surprises. I do think at least one of the aforementioned smaller girls could do some damage, specifically Jennifer Sedia, who won the lightweight class at the Europa Super Show last summer in her pro debut and finished 10th at the Ms, O. Like Lewis, Jen displays stunning symmetry. In the flow-of-the-bodyparts department, the former middleweight has got it going on, and the judges tend to like where it’s going—witness her surprise overall win at the ’07 USA as well as the Super Show victory.

Also not to be counted out: another smaller symmetrical flexer—and an Olympia vet—Brenda Raganot, whose less-than-stellar showing at the International has her looking for redemption in New York. Plus, I’m watching with interest the pro debut of another middleweight, Diana Tinnelle, who pretty much owned that class in 2008, when she scored back-to-back wins at the USA and the Nationals.

Finally, not to leave out any ladies who I think could find favor in this lineup of 21 (as of May 12), I will mention, in alphabetical order, Debbie Bramwell, Kim Buck, Jeannie Paparone, Tonie Thompson and Dena Westerfield.

And if someone I didn’t cite gets an Olympia qualification at the New York Pro, well… you know how I like to be surprised.

For info on tickets, or anything else to do with the New York Pro Women’s Bodybuilding Championship:


Top: Will Cathy LeFrancoise repeat in New York?

Above: Nancy Lewis, backstage at the ’02 Olympia.

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