Reported October 3, 2003
Wipeout at the Worlds: U.S. Team Washes Ashore in Sunny Spain
Talk about not getting a break. It’s almost as if they were cursed before they left the States. Due to work conflicts, Team Universe lightweight winner Jamie Troxel and heavyweight champ Mercedes Bazemore had to pass on a trip to the IFBB Women’s World Amateur Championships, so it was a smaller-than-usual band of NPC athletes who traveled to Santa Susana, Spain, for the September 26’29 event. Still, with fitness champ Teri Mooney, middleweight victor Debbie Patton and Figure National champ Amber Littlejohn onboard, the U.S. team could have been a strong presence at the international competition. Instead, it fell apart at the seams: Littlejohn got sick at the hotel and never made it to the stage; Mooney, plagued by sinus infection, had been unable to train and didn’t make the cut; and Patton just got creamed.
Does it seem that the rest of the world is filled with women who can knock our socks off? It would be an understatement to suggest that we’ve come a long way since 1987, when NPC National champs Charla Sedacca, Renee Casella and Janice Graser dominated the World Championships, or even when Susie Curry won the Fitness in ’96 or Peggy Schoolcraft took the lightweights in ’97. Numerous factors are involved, of course, and points to ponder would include the fact that unlike the NPC, the bodybuilding federations of most other countries don’t automatically grant pro cards to their national champions, who often go back to Worlds a number of times. Those federations also don’t hold a separate contest to pick a team for the drug-tested World Championships. It’s got to be frustrating for the athletes. Now we’ll never know whether Littlejohn, who’s got some shape on her, would have done damage in the tall body-fitness class.
In the meantime’and since Teri and Amber got their pro qualifications before they went to Spain’here’s hoping they feel better in time to make their debuts. For complete results from the World Championships’and a look at the winners’go to www.ifbb.com
Vegas Countdown: So Many Olympias, So Little Space
It’s three weeks out from the IFBB pro season grand finale, a.k.a. Olympia Weekend, and ticket sales for women’s night at the O are running ahead of last year. That’s not to say that Olympia promoter Wayne DeMilia expects to finish in the black for the Ms., Fitness and Figure competitions, which are scheduled for the Mandalay Bay Events Center on October 23’24, but at least he’s willing to name a gross-receipts figure that would make him happy.
The big stories in fitness and bodybuilding remain the same: Can Susie Curry fight off Jenny Worth, Kelly Ryan, Adela Garcia-Friedmansky, et al., one more time and retire from fitness with the top title? Can Juliette Bergmann make it three in a row? Can Lenda Murray duplicate her burning-down-the-house condition of 2002? As for the drama that’s been developing in the figure circuit all season, will it be Jenny Lynn, Davana Medina or Monica Brant collecting the first-place check? Even more intriguing: Will some hot body coming on strong from the summer shows’like, say, Dina Al-Sabah’knock one of them out of the top three?
While they may lack the Is-this-Ronnie-Coleman’s-last-stand drama of this year’s Mr. Olympia competition, the three women’s shows promise to be top-drawer events showcasing the most dynamic female bodies in the world. A slew of spectacular women qualified in August, bringing the totals of those who have signed contracts to compete up to 15 bodybuilders, 14 fitness athletes and 12 figure competitors who’ll be headed for Vegas. Jan Tana heavyweight and overall champ Helle Nielsen heads the list of additions to the Ms. Olympia lineup, along with middleweight winner Dayana Cadeau and lightweight Angela Debatin. They’ll join lightweights Fannie Barrios, Bergmann, Denise Masino, and Cathy Lefrancois-Priest; and heavyweights Vickie Gates, Kim Harris, Rosemary Jennings, Iris Kyle, Murray, Yaxeni Oriquen, Betty Pariso, and Betty Viana. (Valentina Chepiga, the ’00 heavyweight winner who’s recently been competing as a lightweight, decided to sit this one out.)
Also earning their stripes at the J.T. Classic on August 15’16 were fitness first-placer Tracey Greenwood and third-placer Kim Klein. Since no major players have declined their invites to the Fitness Olympia, the lineup will also include Curry, Garcia-Friedmansky, Jenny Hendershott, Stacy Hylton, Klaudia Kinska, Anna Level, Kary Odiatu, Julie Palmer, Shannon Meteraud, Ryan, and Worth.
With the early-season figure champs competing’and winning’all year, the Figure O ranks were looking a bit anemic before officials declared the New York Pro on August 9 and the Tana to be top-five qualifiers. Medina won the New York show, but the rest of the winners’ circle’Al-Sabah, D.J. Wallace, Sharon Kouvaras and Elaine Goodlad’were happy to earn their invites at last. The Tana added a couple of very raw rookies’Thiel Bradford and Hannah Park’as well as fugitive from fitness Aleksandra Kobielak. Also expected to be strutting their stuff across the Events Center stage, in addition to Brant, Medina and Lynn, are Jaime Franklin and Mari Kudla.
Pressed to predict how this will all come out, I took a stab at it in Pump & Circumstance in the November IRONMAN (on newsstands now), but your guess is certainly as good as mine. If you’re even thinking about getting in on the action at the women’s Olympias, now is the time call the Mandalay Bay Events Center at (702) 632-7580 and reserve your tickets.