2015 WNBF International Championships
Sunday 11th October. The Assembly, Leamington Spa
Photos courtesy of Julian Ward (www.julianward.org)
Report by Lee Kemp
Day 2 of this unbelievable weekend was to follow, with yesterdays invited competitors fresh from the first round of battle the day prior and ready to lock horns with a small army of top class athletes from across Europe and beyond.
A sizeable crowd were on hand to witness this unique spectacle of UK natural bodybuilding, and roared on all of the athletes onstage regardless of the nation they represented, making for a superb atmosphere.
1st - Jay Robinson, Ireland. Unrecognisable from his 4th Place finish of last year, Jay was a standout winner with his mega tight condition and great proportions. The NBFI were done proud with their first winner in International competition since they formed in 2013 and Jay was respectfully elated to lift the title for his country.
2nd - Sandro Whittwer, Switzerland. Hot on Jay’s heels was a ripped and ready Sandro, who boasted the beautiful shape and flair for presentation typical of athletes from his country. A little fuller, and Sandro could have had things his own way but there was no taking the win from the man from Ireland on this occasion.
3rd - Dominic Rae, England. Without the maturity and fine detail of the two ahead of him, Dom was locked in a battle with his fellow countryman for third, which he took by virtue of his more pleasing overall shape. Once again, he bought the house down with his posing routine, which was faultless.
4th - Marcos Gava, England. Just pipped for third by the closest of margins, Marcos was bigger and fuller than the previous day with no decline in condition. He looked great and will challenge at World level.
5th - Bjorn Van Urk, Holland. A tall, heavily muscled man with huge quads and arms, Bjorn needed to be harder to push the other men today but could easily have upset the placings if he had been tighter. Expect something big from this guy if he cracks his conditioning.
1st - Steve Howarth, England. Steve added the International title to his already formidable CV in style, proving untouchable today in terms of overall size and conditioning. Close to his best ever, Steve would be a threat in the overall without doubt.
2nd - Robert Rodney, England. Much tighter than the day before, Rob pushed Steve hard but try as he might could not quite topple him from the top spot today. Big, full and shapely, Rob is amazing for a man of over 50.
3rd - Marcel Strickler, Switzerland. Making a long awaited comeback and treading the boards for the first time since 1998, Marcel was spectacular with heavy muscle on every body part and the flair and grace of a true legend of that era of the sport. His condition was not where it needed to be today to place higher, but he was overjoyed to take the bronze medal spot in a tight battle with his Irish counterpart.
4th - Barry Mulcahy, Ireland. Harder than Marcel but not as developed, particularly in the lower body was returning multi time Irish National Champion Barry. Like a fine wine, Barry improves with age and I’m sure we have not seen the best of him yet.
5th - Stuart Balsillie, Scotland. Shredded, although lacking the overall size to place higher was Stuart who fought hard from the second he stepped onstage and did Team Scotland proud.
6th - Atholl Brechin, Scotland. The phenomenon that is Atholl once again rocked the stage with a physique and energy that belies a man in his 60s. One of the sports true gents, it was a pleasure to host him.
1st - Hayley Madigan, England. With both ladies boasting the ideal level of muscle for the class and elegant shapes, Hayley took the title by virtue of her leaner condition.
2nd - Meg Smith, Scotland. A few more weeks of prep could have seen Meg overturn this result, with her great balance and superb stage presence. I have no doubt we’ll see Meg on the World stage before long however.
1st - David Arge Galan, Faroe Islands. As close to the limit for muscular development and condition that a physique competitor dare get, David timed today’s appearance to perfection and thoroughly deserved his win. He will benefit from posing a little “softer” in future and working to display his shape as opposed to his condition but took the title in style.
2nd - Alan Love, Scotland. Just missing first place on a tie break, Aldo was prepared to perfection and totally comfortable with competing at this level. With an invitation to the Worlds now under his belt, Aldo will have his chance for International honours again.
3rd - Dominic Hills, England. Fuller, harder and darker tanned than at the USN Classic in August, Dom was much improved and managed to overturn the overall decision from that contest by coming out on top of a tie breaker between the three overall contestants from that show. With this being only his first year of competition, he too has a bright future.
4th - Jagdeep Sidhu, England. About as lean as in August at his qualifier, Juggy needed to ideally exceed that conditioning to place higher today but will be back to fight another day with his beautifully shaped upper body and dominating stage presence.
5th - Kieran Kevan, England. Possibly the pre-contest favourite, Kieran was not at his best today and looked tense and nervous throughout. In his USN Classic shape, he would have likely challenged the winner today but again, next year beckons this amazing talent.
Also competed - Jay Robinson (Ireland), Caleb Pearson (USA), Justin Sparks (USA). All of these men looked great, but didn’t quite “hit” the level of either muscle or condition required for the class.
Ladies Fit Body
1st - Penny Beaumont, England. The former World Amateur Champion returned after a break from competing and showed she still had “it” in every way, taking a solid win in this class. Once again eligible for pro status, Penny now needs to chase the level of conditioning needed at that level. If she is successful, she’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
2nd - Genevieve Guggisberg, Switzerland. In great shape and perfectly presented, Genevieve pushed Penny hard but eventually landed in second as she just didn’t have the muscle and shape to quite topple the winner today.
3rd - Terezia Borcsok, England. In a tough 3 way battle for third, Terezia came out on top with just that little bit extra muscle from top to bottom than the other 2 ladies in the mix.
4th - Karen Millar, Scotland. The hardest conditioned of the three but at the cost of some of the size and fullness she displayed at the Caledonian. If Karen can balance the two, she will be at the forefront of any contest she enters.
5th - Joannie Newton, England. In today’s company, Joannie’s need for extra muscle in the lower body became apparent and she had to settle for fifth. A beautiful shape, optimal condition and great stage presence however and a bright future.
6th - Laurianne Lessard, Canada. Making the trip over the Atlantic to be at the contest, Laurianne was well shaped and boasted good presentation and tan. She does require more condition to be competitive at this level though but enjoyed her stage time immensely.
1st - Della Mabbutt, England. Della followed up the previous days win by once again “out conditioning” her far heavier opponent. On today’s showing, she should be a force at the Worlds.
2nd - Tia Blowman, Scotland. Bigger and shapelier than Della, but lacking the required condition for the win today was Tia. She too has a great future in this division.
Mens Open Lightweight
1st - Matt Argall, England. Despite the withdrawal of yesterday’s UK winner Dean, Matt did not have this contest all his own way and was pushed hard on his way to victory in a close, close contest that could have arguably been won by any one of the three entrants. In the end, Matt's overall quality took him to the much sought after win and place on Team UK for the Worlds.
2nd - David Old, Scotland. Dropping down from middleweight, the Caledonian Classic champion was absolutely jaw droppingly shredded, and looked huge for a lightweight competitor. Being taller and lighter muscled than Matt kept him from the winners spot today but his more than respectable runner up spot rounded out what has been a great year for David.
3rd - Ross Taylor, Scotland. Ross looked incredible. Huge, particularly in the legs and especially in his monstrous calves and in great shape. Good enough for a win at any level, he was just really unlucky to be standing onstage in such great company.
Mens Open Middleweight
1st - Martin Petro, Slovakia. Returning to UK shores to compete for the first time in 3 years and bigger and better than ever, Martin won this class in style with thick, dense muscle on every body part with posterior chain development rarely seen on an amateur athlete. Only just scraping into the weight limit, it was evident that he was the heaviest in the line-up and that he’d bought his absolute best to today’s stage.
2nd - Damian Lees, England. Aesthetically more pleasing than Martin, and tighter and fuller than the previous day, Damian gave as good as he got in the comparisons and didn’t go down without a fight. He once again ignited the crowd with his free posing and was the first to congratulate the winner as the results were announced.
3rd - Patrick Bosshard, Switzerland. Patrick was in good shape with a thick, no nonsense physique presented well and had a solid and competent stage presence. This was enough to secure the bronze medal position and see off the fierce challenge from the other Englishman in the class.
4th - Phil Brown, England. Just missing third and every bit at home in this class was yesterday’s runner up Phil. His first International outing, which he handled perfectly and indicated an imminent rise to this level of competition.
5th - Caleb Pearson, USA. Caleb, having not placed earlier in the physique class was far more at home as a bodybuilder, with mass to spare and full muscle bellies and an upper body in particular which flowed nicely. Once he nails his condition and gains more confidence in his presentation it could well be “lights out” for the others.
Also competed – Sandro Whittwer (Switzerland) who was a little outmuscled in this class, Erfan Salloum (Ireland) who has a heavily muscled and well-shaped physique but needed to be a little harder today and Matej Slivon (Slovakia) who was bigger, harder and better all-round than last year and relished his stage time.
Mens Open Heavyweight
1st - Nigel St Lewis, England. Not to be denied two days in a row, Nigel stamped out a destructive win in this class and finally annexed the Worlds qualification that he had been aiming for. On this form, he would surely be a front runner in the overall today.
2nd - David Guggisberg, Switzerland. A tall, wide, heavily muscled man in good shape and as well presented as we have come to expect the elite Swiss athletes to be. David was another man who is more than at home on an International stage and was over the moon with his runner up spot.
3rd - Alan Potter, Scotland. Improved significantly from his showing in June with harder condition in the lower body and more confident stage presentation which just allowed him to reverse the decision against fellow Scotsman Neil today.
4th - Neil Young, Scotland. As huge as ever, but slightly off the winning condition of earlier in the year which kept him from the top 3 today, Neil has immeasurable potential and plenty of time on his side.
5th - Ben Makengo, Ireland. Big and full but down on the condition in which he won the Irish Nationals a month previously, Ben held his own in the class but needed to sharpen up somewhat to make an impact today.
Mens Overall and WNBF Pro Card winner
Men’s Overall and WNBF Pro Card winner – Martin Petro, Slovakia. In what became a classic “apples vs oranges” contest between Martin and Nigel in which the judges had to compare the men three times before coming to a unanimous decision, Martin took the title by virtue of the edge he had in muscle density from the back, particularly from the waist down. Exhausted but elated he lifted the championship belt and allowed the realisation to sink in that he was now a WNBF Pro.
$1,750 Prize Money Awarded
1st - Anna Millington-Downing, England. $1,000. Storming to victory in her best shape to date, Anna attacked the stage with the steely determination she has become known for. Bigger, harder and with her usual polished presentation, Anna would not be beaten today and was ecstatic to claim her first Pro title.
2nd - Jorun Morkore, Faroe Islands. $500. Jorun gave Anna a tough time, appearing onstage better than she’d been before by far with ultra-hard conditioning rarely seen on a female athlete, with striated glutes and deep separations in every body part. Smaller in stature and lacking the natural aesthetics of Anna as a result, Jorun will be hard to beat in a split weight class at the Worlds.
3rd - Jane Carter, England. $250. Returning to the pro stage after a few years away, Jane was close to her best ever with a great v-taper and thick muscle all over. Jane has always been one of the most impressive female athletes produced by the UK, and stands out in any line up with her striking presentation.
4th - Nicky Fogarty, England. Just winning the tussle for fourth place was Nicky, returning to competition for the first time since her 2013 pro card win and Worlds 4th place. Today, her conditioning did not allow her amazing physique to be judged as clearly as it needed to be and in top shape would have been pushing harder for a top 3 slot.
5th - Marina Cornwall, England. Marina was her best ever, without doubt looking bigger and fuller than in past appearances. Her condition and presentation was as impeccable as one would expect from such an experienced pro athlete and she was very unlucky to miss out on 4th place today.
$1,750 Prize Money Awarded
1st - Adrian Grey, England. $1,000. Fresh from his stunning victory the day before, Adrian swept his way to a unanimous win in his pro debut and showed prowess as a genuine threat at this year’s Worlds with a staggering blend of mass and conditioning.
2nd - Martin Petro, Slovakia. $500. Another stunning pro debut came from Martin, whose conditioning was too much to ignore and bagged him the runner up spot ahead of some experienced and highly decorated pro athletes, showing just how impressive he was.
3rd - Milan Panek, England. $250. Defending champion Milan was every bit as heavily muscled and balanced as the previous year, but a little down in terms of condition which kept him from retaining his title. As always, his free posing was one of the highlights of the day.
4th - Chris Nsubuga, England. The current World heavyweight champion was as huge and wide as ever, if not quite in title winning condition just yet as he moves towards a defence of his title 5 weeks from today’s contest. Chris raised the roof as he danced and flexed through his routine, bringing his children up onstage to share his moment with him and visibly enjoying his stage time possibly more than any athlete all weekend. A memorable and enjoyable moment from one of the sports nicest guys.
5th - Julian Strickler, Switzerland. Last year’s overall amateur World champion made his pro debut in this mega tough class and held his own admirably. Julian has a beautiful structure and was in good shape and like his father earlier in the contest presented his physique in style. A real baptism of fire for the Julian and a test which he passed with flying colours as he sent a clear message that he belongs firmly in the pro ranks.
And with that ended another ground breaking weekend of UK natural bodybuilding, and a fantastic domestic season for all at the UKDFBA. Team UK were selected and all that remains now is another long flight over the Atlantic in November in search of World honours.
With one of our strongest teams yet, don’t bet against 2015 being possibly our most decorated year as we return to the bright lights of Atlantic City.
Thanks to everyone who made this weekend, this season and this teams attempt on the Worlds a reality.