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Udo's Choice

2014 INBF International Championships
Sunday 28th September - Leamington Spa, England.
Report by Lee Kemp
Images courtesy of Fivos Averkiou

In a rare spectacle seen in UK Drug Free Bodybuilding, day 2 of the UK & International weekend saw athletes representing eight different countries battle it out on the stage which just the day before saw our brand new UK Champions crowned to stake their claim on the seven INBF Amateur International titles on offer, and the first ever WNBF Pro contest to take place on UK soil. Although lower in numbers than the previous days contest, the quality was second to none and the crowd supportive and enthusiastic. The contest was opened by WNBF Pro European Womens champion and former WNBF World Champion Helen Stack who looked superb and well ahead of schedule as she was seven weeks away from her attempt to regain her Pro World title.

Junior Men:

1st – Dylan Manokore, England. In his second tooth and nail battle of the weekend, Dylan once again won by the narrowest of margins by virtue of his thickly muscled upper body which was just a little too much for the runner up.

2nd – Scott Cunningham, Scotland. More aesthetic than the winner, with superb condition and balance was Scott who was vastly improved from his showing at the Caledonian in May. With a couple of years left as a junior, Scott is a safe bet for the big titles if he stays the course.

3rd – Kurtis Furgusson, England. With staggering size and condition for a teenager, Kurtis more than held his own against the older guys and saw off a strong challenge from the Irish National Champion to grab third place.

4th - Jay Robinson, Ireland. A solid and well balanced bodybuilder with a nice shape and good presentation, Jay was just a little too soft to move into the top three which was understandable as he was several weeks away from his peak which was planned for the impending Irish Nationals, where he appeared at 100% and retained his title.

Masters Men:

1st – Robert Rodney, England. Continuing on the destructive form that has left him almost untouchable in the UK this year, Rob added another title to his resume. On this occasion, he faced his toughest challenge yet in the form of the runner up.

2nd – Ian Hendy, England. The newly crowned UK Champ was not quite as full as the previous day, but was rock hard and ran the winner right down to the wire.

3rd – Barry Mulcahy, Ireland. A thick, evenly muscled physique that was testament to years of hard and intelligent training, Barry fought hard for his top three spot. Again, a few weeks away from his peak he had to give his absolute all to beat the challenges of the next two athletes.

4th – Andy Williams, Scotland. A heavily muscled and compact physique which demolished his class at the Caledonian to earn his place here, Andy struggled to reproduce the condition he displayed there today and it cost him dearly. At his peak he would have likely challenged for the top slot, but looked superb all the same and delivered one of the best free posing displays of the contest.

5th – Christian Henseler, Switzerland. The first Swiss representative of the day cast an imposing figure onstage with his tall, wide shouldered and heavily muscled physique. More conditioning was the key for Christian to push for a podium finish today.

6th – Billy Noble, Ireland. The reigning Irish National Heavyweight champion boasted huge arms and legs and a rugged overall package presented in a hard-core, no-nonsense fashion. He was too heavy to challenge for the other men in the class today however.

Ladies Fit Body:

1st – Lucy Walton, England. Lucy followed up her superb win at the previous days UK Championships with an equally dominant and polished performance in this class with a unanimous win from the judges’ perspective and in doing so became the first UK athlete to be offered and accept her WNBF Pro Card. Lucy would no doubt stand her ground and be a genuine threat at that level.

2nd – Charlotte Torp, Denmark. A strong challenger for Lucy’s bid for the title, a taller slightly leaner Charlotte was totally at home in a line-up of this level and too would not look out of place in the professionals.

3rd – Arna Fjallstein, Faroe Islands. A seasoned and experienced athlete in great shape, Arna comfortably took the third slot with a more reserved but equally impressive stage presence to Lucy and Charlotte. A little tighter, and Arna could easily have reversed the placings today.

4th – Ann Guiry, Ireland. Ann was very comfortable competing at this level, with a lovely shape and balance and great presentation. A little outmuscled on this occasion, but no doubt a threat in future contests.

5th – Hayley Dixon, England. Fresh from her spectacular debut the previous day, Hayley more than stood her ground in this top class line-up, further confirming her great potential.

6th – Meg Smith, Scotland. The Layne Norton Classic Bikini Winner was understandably less muscular than the other ladies in the class, but looked great with a superb shape and smooth confident presentation.

Pro Card Winner Lucy Walton:

Mens Physique:

1st – Jeff Downey, USA. Right on the borderline for being “too big” for the division, Jeff was well conditioned and had a lovely shape with particularly impressive pecs and legs. Jeff was over the moon that his long journey from California had paid off with a win against a tough field of competitors.

2nd – David Arge Galan, Faroe Islands. With a beautifully shaped and lean upper body, David narrowly lost out today as his legs were a shade behind developmentally. With this balance evened out he will be hard to beat.

3rd – Simon Kennedy, Scotland. Equally proportioned top to bottom, hard and lean all over and with great presentation was Simon in third. He lacked a little shoulder width in comparison with the top two which kept him from placing higher but was every bit worthy of his invite to join Team UK for the Worlds where he would no doubt hold his own.

4th – Adam Light, Scotland. Tall, with a dramatic upper body taper and hugely confident stage presentation, Adam was a little weaker in the legs and a touch too soft to place higher.

5th – Jay Robinson, Ireland. A pleasing shape in good nick, but stuck in a middle ground where he was perhaps a little too much of a bodybuilder to place well here. Jay is certainly better suited to his usual division.

6th – James Jeffries, England. A stunning v-taper and tiny, tiny waist give James great future prospects in this class. A little more size in the upper body and considerable leg mass are required to place higher, but once the size comes he has potential to be the king of the division.

Mens Lightweight:

1st – Stuart McCulloch, Scotland. Although pushed pretty hard by the runner up, Stuart could not be beaten today with quality muscle in every body part and the best condition of the contest.

2nd – David Oakes, England. Aesthetically superior to Stuart and very conditioned, but without the density required to beat an athlete of Stuarts maturity. Dave was very impressive in his first competitive season and will be competing at World level in the near future should he choose to.

3rd – Mark Inglis, Scotland. In even better condition that his qualifying berth at the Caledonian, Mark was rock hard and fought tooth and nail for the win in this top quality class. He did not have the size necessary to top Dave and Stuart today however but will be a force to be reckoned with once he adds the necessary size to his frame.

Mens Middleweight:

1st – Daniel Jackson, Scotland. Dominating the class with freaky size and vascularity, Daniel has unlimited potential and as he matures and develops more confidence will be hard to beat at any level.

2nd – Simon Stevens, England. Pushing Daniel hard was Simon, equally as impressive as the day before with his beautiful shape and hard condition. He just didn’t have the size to tip the balance in his favour today.

3rd – Rasmus Hansen, Denmark. Probably the most conditioned man in the entire contest, Rasmus was virtually skinless. A master of the sport and how to play his strengths, Rasmus used this key attribute to secure the last podium position against a line-up of relatively heavier muscled men. His presentation was precise and professional and he clearly meant business from the second he stepped onstage.

4th – Jeff Downey, USA. Caught in the “no mans land” between the level of muscle mass required for physique and bodybuilding, Jeff did not have the mass to place higher but posing a little harder in this class revealed enough condition to chase the top three. Jeff appeared somewhat awkward presentation wise, being relatively inexperienced but gained valuable experience with this outing.

5th – Ben Howard, England. A little softer than the previous day due to some aggressive celebrating after his UK title win, Ben still looked great and more than held his own against this level of competition and pushed Jeff hard for the fourth place. Today served as a great experience for Ben and a benchmark for where he needs to be in future and he looked to enjoy every second.

6th – Brian Neilsen, Denmark. Brian was in great shape, but lacked the muscle mass to place higher in this top level line-up today but again seemed to enjoy every minute onstage.

7th – Matej Slivon, Slovakia. Similarly a little too light on muscle to place higher, but a little softer than Brian. Matej was however greatly improved over last year and presented himself impeccably.

Mens Heavyweight:

1st – Derek Brettell, Scotland. Not the biggest in the class by any means, but with a shape and structure that is literally one in a million was Derek. A clear and dominant win for a truly beautiful physique in great condition. Derek went on to take a conclusive overall victory and his long sought after WNBF Pro Card with his top quality physique.

2nd – Alan Mack, England. Fuller and a little harder than the previous day, having recovered from the gruelling weight cut to get down to the weight class for his UK win, Alan was on fire today and literally owned the stage with his confident persona. His relative imbalance between upper and lower body would leave Derek and the winners spot out of reach today though.

3rd - Julian Strickler, Switzerland. Locked in a fierce battle with Alan for runner up spot in the first round of the contest that would be due to repeat itself 7 weeks later at the Worlds, Julian had mass in abundance and good, hard condition especially in the upper body. Alans sweeping upper body taper edged Julian into third place, but he too enjoyed his time onstage as he was roared on by the large Swiss contingent in the audience.

4th - Wayne Robb, England. Shadowing the rest of the line-up with his scary mass, Wayne just needs the condition to match. Once he does, all bets are off!

5th - Billy Noble, Ireland. With ample size to stand his ground in this class, Billy just needed more condition today but once again gave it his all and had a blast.

Pro Card Winner Derek Brettell:

WNBF Pro UK International:

1st - Milan Panek, England ($1000)
2nd – Gavin Gibson, England ($500)
3rd – Stefan Kuruc, England ($250)
4th – Sebastian Stitz, Switzerland
5th – Gordon Adam, Scotland
6th – Derek Brettell, Scotland
7th – Francesco Palaeri, Italy

The atmosphere for the Pro division was electric, and it was a real treat to see a crowd as busy and noisy at the end of the contest as they were at the start which is a real rarity in this sport. It was a division which bought about several “apples and oranges” contest between athletes fighting over the various placings, no more so than between the winner and runner up. The general consensus on first glance was that Gibson would be too hard and conditioned for Panek today, but as the comparisons unfolded, it became apparent that although Milan was notably softer than Gavin (especially in the legs) he was still hard enough to see what needed to be seen, and was considerably larger and thicker. This was particularly evident in the torso, where his thick chest back and shoulders (especially when viewed side on) gave him an edge over Gavin, who although very cut and vascular did lack some fullness in these areas in comparison and appeared a little “limb heavy”. Both delivered very good if very different free posing displays and Milan eventually took the narrowest of wins on a 3 votes to 4 majority from the judging panel.

An equally hard battle took place between Stefan, Sebastian and Gordie for the next three places. It was essentially a battle of size vs shape vs conditioning with the more conditioned Stefan coming out on top and grabbing the bronze medal and third place. Sebastian edged Gordie into fifth with possibly the most beautiful shape in the sport today, and had the potential to win the class comfortably had he matched Stefan or Gavins condition. Gordie, as big as a house and much improved from the back over his amateur Worlds win last year just needed to match his previous conditioning to make the decision in this class almost impossible for the judges!

Derek and Francesco had similarly pleasing shapes but were notably lighter than the rest of the guys in the class and will benefit from competing within their own weight brackets at this level. Francesco in particular though was the epitome of professionalism, being sharp, perfectly tanned and presented and posing with the flair and grace typical of high level athletes from his nation. It truly was a pleasure to host all of these men on our stage.

And with that, the first full weekend of Natural Bodybuilding in UK history came to a close. It was a real privilege as a lifelong fan of the sport to see so many athletes from so many nations embrace the event, and add a class and flavour to the weekend which would be hard to match elsewhere and would surely only get bigger from here onwards.

Thank you one and all for supporting what we do. Next stop, Boston!


Pro International Winner Milan Panek: