2016 Heart of England
Photography courtesy of AllSports Photography.
Almost 20 years to the day of the very first Heart of England Championships, the contest made a return for the first time since 2010 to now serve as the final qualifier for the 2016 season. A sentimental day for the promoters, and a fitting celebration as 83 athletes took to the stage in front of a standing room only crowd of supporters to make this our biggest contest of the season so far, as the final crop of hopefuls battled for their place at the epic UK & International 4 weeks after. The results were...
1 – Edvinas Kuzborskis (Coventry). Originally placed in the runner up spot before the disqualification of his opponent, Ed was very sadly denied the first place trophy on the day of the contest and a worthy winner he was with wide shoulders, flaring quads and good overall presentation. Ed has a great future in the sport.
1 – Tom Macmillan (Llandudno). Huge, ripped and without any discernible weaknesses, Tom stormed to victory in this stacked class. Unable to contest the finals due to his upcoming departure for Australia, there may have been more than one Junior breathing a sigh of relief that this contest was Tom’s swansong for the year.
2 – Simpi Mpofu (Hayes). A great debut from Simpi, who sported a thick, full bellied and balanced physique which he showed off with a stunning free posing display. With the remaining 4 weeks to the finals offering Simpi a chance to nail the required condition to truly excel, he could cause a major upset on the big day if he uses the time wisely.
3 – Ronnie Cai (Coventry). Vastly improved from last year, with legs that seem to have doubled in size and an upper body that has an impressive shape and balance, Ronnie too needs a few percent more hardness to come over the next few weeks to make the desired impact at the finals.
4 – Jordan Campbell (Redditch). Shredded, and well-muscled on his more compact frame, Jordan made a great debut and was desperately unlucky to land in possibly the toughest junior class of the year. A little more size overall and more fluid presentation and Jordan will be one to watch.
5 – Daniel Williamson (Coventry). Barely recognisable from his showing at last year’s UK Championships, with added size in the upper body, better condition and vastly improved stage presentation. Danny still lacks the leg development required to balance out his well-developed upper body and with one more year left in the junior division, needs to turn his attention to redressing this balance over the next 12 months to make the impact he is capable of.
Also competed: Matt Duran (Wolverhampton), much improved over his USN Classic showing and Andrew Dennis (Upminster) who was tall and lean but lacked the overall mass to challenge the others today.
1 – Paul Douglas-Waller (Barnsley). A clear win in his masters debut for Paul with a heavily muscled, no-nonsense physique displayed in great condition. A few tweaks to his posing, particularly his back shots will benefit Paul and see him as one of the front runners for the UK title.
2 – Mohammed Basith (Croydon). Massively muscled and well balanced, but not quite in the condition that saw him win the USN Classic in June, Mo just nicked runner up spot in a tough battle with third placed Adrian. On his way to peak condition for the finals, expect Mo to put in a strong attempt at turning the tables on the winner from today.
3 – Adrian Hampton (Devizes). The best he’s been all season and close to his best ever condition wise, Adrian took the final trophy spot and finals invitation with his tall muscular overall package. A few percent harder and at his very best, Adrian too could upset a few of the men who have bested him this season so far.
4 – Damon Solley (Leeds). Tall, well balanced but not quite heavily muscled enough or conditioned to crack the placings today, Damon has had a fantastic debut year and with another good off season will be in the mix next time he hits the stage.
5 – Stuart Essex (Abingdon). Another man not quite carrying the muscle to make the placings today but in great condition and with a stage presence that exuded true passion for competition and showed everyone that he was enjoying every second onstage was Stu. It was a pleasure to have Stu onstage and he will no doubt be knocking on the door for the placings in the near future.
1 – Simon Woodham-Owen (Bridgend). The best he’s been for as long as I can remember seeing him, with condition that gets better with every contest and a heavily muscled, full and balanced physique that looks as strong as an Ox. Simon made a great UKDFBA debut today and will along with runner up Paul be well in the mix and part of a real battle at the finals.
2 – Paul Thorpe (Truro). Another UKDFBA debutant, with a tall and heavily muscled physique with massive legs for a tall man, Paul needed to be a touch sharper to topple Simon today and could well tip the balance in his favour 4 weeks from this day if he nails down a little more condition.
3 – Essop Hajat (Mansfield). A heavily muscled upper body in decent condition with enthusiastic presentation, Essop needs to bring more muscularity to his legs to reach the next level but was impressive overall and has great potential for future success.
4 – John Heath (Pershore). At over 70 years of age, John is an inspiration to us all with his youthful, fit physique and onstage zest and sparkle. Keep doing what you’re doing John, and may we all be in your shape when we surpass the big 7-0.
1 – Jessica Lowe (Inverness). Tall, athletic and well presented, Jessica took the win in this top quality class in a hard battle between the top three where each had their strengths and developmental areas. A little more fullness in the upper body is needed for future success but today’s win was well-deserved and will stand her in good stead for a strong performance at the finals.
2 – Tara Goodwin (Birmingham). Similar in structure to the winner but a shade down in terms of overall conditioning, Tara had good, but occasionally tense looking stage presentation which will no doubt be more fluid after the first show nerves are gone from the equation.
3 – Chandni Ravalia (Walsall). Probably the best structure and level of development in the class, but needing to be a little leaner today, Chandni could cause a major upset at the finals if she uses the next 4 weeks wisely and brings her condition down.
4 – Bea Mitchell (London). Perfectly presented, confident and ideally conditioned for the class, Bea just missed a top 3 slot today with her developmental area being in overall muscle development, and will benefit from some growing time. With a fuller, more developed figure she could easily be a national champion in the making.
5 – Elesa Zehndorfer (Kidbrooke). An impressive comeback season for Elesa, who sported a lean and athletic package that was a little too well developed for bikini perhaps and would be better suited to figure. Elesa should be very pleased with the shape she got herself into after such a long time away from the sport and will go on to enjoy great success in future seasons.
Also competed: Rebecca Cooper (Northampton), Sarah Beilfuss (Greenwich), Terry Jacobs – Titchener (Stratford), Lucy Fawns (Coventry). All four ladies looked great and presented themselves well, but all needed leaner levels of conditioning to be competitive today but can be proud that they held their own in a tough class.
1 – Nathan Nelson (Luton). Immediately standing out from the class with a striking front profile which included full pecs and sweeping, separated quads was eventual winner Nathan who was razor sharp and posed very well. Challenged harder from the back, where he is not quite as strongly developed he had to work hard for his win which he was overjoyed with when it was announced.
2 – Chris Jones (Glasgow). Better balanced than Nathan front to back, but a little down on his opponent condition wise with less striking lower body development, Chris was a close second and can push even harder and maybe turn the tables at the final with a shade more conditioning.
3 – Zachary Watson (Walsall). Massive legs and an almost as impressive upper body with good condition. Zachary thoroughly deserved his top 3 slot and finals invite and was incredibly good for a first timer.
4 – Ronnie Bonsra (London). Rock hard and dense and with a very eye catching shape, Ronnie posed well and featured strongly in the judges considerations for the top spots but in the end did not have the raw muscle required to place higher today.
5 – Tassos Yalanopolous (St Albans). A monster of a man who at first glance looked to be a front runner in the class. Tassos had an incredible V-taper and massive legs giving a lovely overall shape to go with his impressive mass but didn’t have the condition he needed, compounded further by what seemed like gallons of sweat pouting from him which caused his tan to run and his physique to be a little obscured. This alone may have cost Tassos a top 3 spot but with a more posing drills and a little harder and dryer he could literally leapfrog all of those above him and make waves at the final.
Also competed: Chinonso Osuji (Liverpool), Chris Shaw (Ilkeston), Matthew Hewitt (Stoke), James Moncrieff (Essex), Michael Kerry (Ipswich), and Elliott Weaver (Plymouth). Chinonso, Chris and Elliott all needed to be tighter to push the placings, whereas Michael and Matthew required more overall size. James was the closest of the pack to challenge the top 5 with a well-balanced and big physique with great shoulders and quads and polished posing, just needing more detail to crack the trophies.
1 – Adewale Balogun (London). Sticking out like a sore thumb in this line up with a beautiful shape which included full pecs, wide shoulders and deep etched abs, Adewale took a comfortable win. Being so tall and wide, he was able to carry more muscle than most and still fit into the parameters for the class but even then was close to as big as he could be without being considered “too much” for physique. Adewale will be one to watch at the finals if he can compose his presentation a little.
2 – Oliver Sait (Wirrall). Another tall man with wide shoulders but harder than Adewale and almost too much so was Oliver. He too presented himself a little awry of what is laid out in the rules for the discipline and needs to address this for the finals.
3 – Jack Higgins (Walsall). Fuller and a little softer than Oliver but with a stunning natural aesthetic shape, Jack took the bronze medal in style and with a little more conditioning could look to take out some of the pre contest favourites in 4 weeks.
4 – Pete Styring (Saltash). Another tall man, carrying close to much muscle as he could without crossing the bodybuilding boundary and sporting good condition was Pete. His long trip to the contest paid off as he fought his way to a top 5 spot in this huge class.
5 – Rohan Verma (Slough). Aesthetically beautiful with great proportions and a really striking shape, Rohan was adequately muscled and just needed to be tighter in order to leapfrog several placings today. With that extra condition, don’t be surprised if he can turn the tables on several of the men who beat him to the higher places today.
Also competed: Connor Swift (Midsomer Norton) who needed more mass, Elliott Weaver (Plymouth) who would benefit from harder condition and was better suited to the bodybuilding class earlier, Adam Parish (Nottingham) was hard and cut, possibly too much so and with his comparative lack of shoulder width and deeper torso would be better suited to bodybuilding once he adds a little more size, Mikey Herrera Castro (Islington) just missed a placing and needed to be harder to do so, Lucas Wood (Kettering) had a great natural shape but needs more size, Simon Dutton (Walsall) was another whose structure will better suit bodybuilding with his full and thick upper body, Simone Pigliapocco (London) was another man who just missed a placing with a unique shape and good condition that needs just a little more muscle and Matt Soley (Kidderminster) who needs more size on his incredibly tall frame to give him the aesthetic impact he needs.
1 – Emma Walsh (Liverpool). Coming out on top of a very high quality and closely matched class, Emma was well balanced, presented excellently and as lean and muscular as the class dictated she needed to be. Not as wide across the shoulders as the other ladies in the top placings, she was pushed hard but did enough to secure the win today.
2 – Joannie Newton (Hexham). A shape to die for with wide shoulders, tiny waist and quads which contoured perfectly, Joannie was right at Emmas heels for the top spot and a few percent leaner could have seen things turn out very different today. For the finals, she needs to look to reproduce the condition that took her to last year’s UK title and if she does can certainly expect to make an impact there.
3 – Laura Ensor (Walsall). Tall, wide shouldered and also with a great flare to the thighs, Laura too just needed to be a touch leaner to leave the judges with an almost impossible task today. She nailed her presentation and was composed and elegant throughout and thoroughly deserved her top three placing.
4 – Georgina McCarthy (Warwick). With an ideal level of muscle development and great shape, Georgina just needed a touch more condition to complete the package today and is another lady who will throw a conundrum the judges’ way when she does.
5 – Chloe Lake (Chester). With the most striking front profile in the line-up and an overall shape, structure and level of development that is made for this discipline Chloe has the potential to be competitive at the very highest level of the sport if she can find the level of conditioning required. Tighter than she was at the Northern Counties and enough so to earn her finals invite today, it will be interesting to see what Chloe can bring over the next 4 weeks.
Also competed: Maria Giordimana (Stratford) & Charlene Black (Leeds) who both just missed a top 5 slot today with Maria just needing to be a touch leaner and Charlene needing a little more muscle in the upper body, Gemma Catlin (Bourne) was in great shape but too needs more size up top to match her excellent level of conditioning, Caroline Oliver (Newark) was complete and well developed but appeared better suited to the bodybuilding discipline she would compete in shortly, Katie La Feuvre (Kettering) had made great improvements since her last UKDFBA outing and held her ground well, Jayne Anderson (Northwich) was another lady who had improved drastically since her debut earlier this year at the USN Classic with vastly improved stage presence and Tara Goodwin (Birmingham) was in great shape but definitely better suited to the Bikini division.
1 – Caroline Oliver (Newark). Coming out on top in a very difficult class to judge due to each of the entrants having entirely different strengths and weaknesses with none quite presenting the complete package today, Caroline was the best structured and boasted good arms, shoulders and abdominals displayed competently. More condition is required to make an impact at the finals, but Caroline is a seasoned campaigner and knows how to reach the level she needs to be at.
2 – Eve Cook (Rayleigh). Probably the most complete physique in the class, but some way from the condition required, Eve has bounced back from some real obstacles to return to the stage and should be proud of what she bought to the contest.
3 – Emma Walsh (Liverpool). The figure division winner squeezed into the top 3 by virtue of being the leanest in the class, with good abdominals and clear lines all over. She requires a little more muscle to look completely at home in this class though and at this point is better suited to figure.
4 – Kathy Preece (Thanet). Another lady who had climbed some serious hurdles to be back onstage today, overcoming some serious injuries to get back in contest shape was Kathy. A well-structured upper body which shows signs of being on its way back to her former best and good posing. Distinctly down in condition in the lower body today, Kathy was still very unlucky not to place higher today and could have been a couple of slots higher with no complaint. An inspirational comeback for which Kathy should be proud.
5 – Tracey Beirne (Northwich). Improved from her USN Classic showing of last year, with more muscle on all body parts and an improved shape as a result, Tracey posed well and seemed to enjoy her stage time thoroughly. With continued improvements to her condition, she will be breaking into the placings before she knows it.
Mens Lightweight Bodybuilding
1 – Daniel North (Grove). A Clear winner in a tough class with a wide upper body, great shoulders, massive quads and hard condition. Daniel made a great debut and will be well in the mix at the finals. With more thickness to his chest and back in the future, he could easily be a UK Champion in the making.
2 – Lee Booth (Wolverhampton). Rock hard and thickly muscled, Lee also made an excellent debut and pushed the winner hard. A little narrower across the shoulders and with more mass up top than in the lower body, it was balance that cost Lee a win today and should be his focus for the future.
3 – Charles Olutola (London). Vastly improved from the USN Classic where he competed considerably heavier, Charles could still afford to drop a little more to bring his condition in but boasted a full, shapely physique with no real glaring weaknesses.
4 – Sandis Vidins (Coventry). A tale of two halves, with a big, balanced upper body which was ruggedly muscled and hard but with a lack of size and conditioning in the legs which would cost him today, Sandis continues to improve and will find himself at the finals before much longer.
5 – Clint Purches (Leigh on Sea). Rock hard and balanced with a great tan and competent posing, Clint makes steady progress with his physique and is another man who is on the fringes of making the finals in the very near future.
Also competed: Keith Dalton (London), Sebastian Hadfield (Colne), and Michael Kerry (Ipswich). All three men were in great shape and gave good posing displays but needed more mass to make an impact in the class today.
Mens Middleweight Bodybuilding
1 – Ben Howard (Leamington Spa). The absolute shocker of the day, with incredible improvements in mass and quality since his 2014 Novice UK win, with dense muscle on all body parts, a great shape and balance and frighteningly hard condition saw Ben stamp out a destructive win in this class. A quiet and humble athlete, who exploded with emotion when his name was announced as winner, Ben seems to be blissfully unaware of just how good he is but in reality would not look out of place on a Pro stage in this shape.
2 – Gordon Greenhorn (London). A near perfectly balanced physique with ample muscle size and good conditioning, Gordon would have been a worthy winner any other day and was just plain and simply unlucky to choose the same qualifier as such a phenomenal athlete as the winner. A welcome UKDFBA debut and another man who will feature strongly at the finals.
3 – Paul Douglas-Waller (Barnsley). Taking the final top 3 slot with the thick and rugged physique that had earned him the masters title earlier, Paul lacked the aesthetics to topple the first two in the class but gave them a solid run for their money all the same.
4 – Craig Martin (Nottingham). Vastly improved from his 2013 Novice showing with a thick upper body and great condition, Craig too would have been pushing for the top spot in any other qualifier and will also be capable of a strong finish at the finals.
5 – Tony Barnes (Leeds). In incredible shape for a man who due to a severe hand injury a couple of months out from the contest has been unable to train his upper body for almost the entire duration of his contest prep. Tony, the master of doing things “his way” and an intelligent man with some real unorthodox methods up his sleeve once again proved that where there’s a will, there’s a way as he nicked the final placing spot.
Also competed: James Thomas (Gloucester), Marian Leonte (Hounslow), Ronnie Cai (Coventry), and Mohammed Basith (Croydon). James was notably harder and more relaxed than at the Northern a few weeks earlier, finishing his comeback season in style. Both he and Marian needed more mass to break the placings today but both held their own admirably. Mo and Ronnie needed more hardness and quality today to push the rest of the class placing wise but fought hard and earned some valuable stage time in a great stage battle.
Mens Heavyweight Bodybuilding
1 – Sam Watt (Leeds). The pre contest favourite did not disappoint, taking a decisive win in the heavies with his trademark thickly slabbed physique which is testament to his years and years training to elite level as a powerlifter. His stage presentation has improved with experience and he was in good enough condition today to take his finals qualification but knows he needs to dial it in a little for the big day in 4 weeks. If he does, he will be hard to beat. Truly a World class athlete.
2 – Pete Bullard (Shanklin). Improved beyond recognition from his last showing with significant gains in upper body thickness to match his already impressive legs and shredded from top to bottom with what was probably the best conditioning we’ve seen a heavyweight present all season. Pete was over the moon with his placing and qualification spot and will take the finals stage as a fully-fledged and fully matured heavyweight contender. Naturally not as wide as some, and with a very tall frame he has overcome less than favourable genetic structure with pure blood, sweat and tears to be where he is today and should be immensely proud.
3 – Solomon Onaola (Coventry). A man at the other end of the scale when it comes to natural structure, Solomon is put together like a dream with width and depth in equal measure and even distributed muscle on his proportionate frame. He, like the winner really needs to drill that condition now to emulate this performance on the big stage.
4 – Clifton Morais (Birmingham). His best ever, and capable of landing in a higher placing today with no complaints, Clifton too needs the last few percent condition to be at his best but has made some impressive gains in upper body mass in particular since his last showing. Expect him to have the three men ahead of him today firmly in his sights at the finals.
5 – Dominic Haley (Leeds). Probably the most aesthetically pleasing man in the entire contest, with everything on his physique exactly where it should be and a breath taking shape, Dom still needs to find the condition required for him to truly excel. Edging ever closer to the middleweight cut off, Dom needs to walk the last few “hard yards” to drop his weight that little bit more and reveal what could be the dark horse of the finals.
Also competed: William Rooke (Coventry), Nathan Nelson (Luton), James Moncrieff (Essex), and Adrian Hampton (Devizes). Really up against it in such a top class line up, Will and James needed more condition but both possess impressive, heavily muscled physiques. Adrian and Nathan were on par condition wise, but both needed more size to upset the apple cart here.
Mens Bodybuilding Overall
As the challengers for the overall lined up, it was obvious that as impressive as the other men were we were looking at a two man battle for the title between Ben and Sam. Ben, characteristically unaware of the his place in the pecking order seemed just happy to be there until his supporters in the audience quite literally told him to get his head down and graft, and that he did as he posed his heart out next to his huge opponent. Sam in all honesty swamped Ben for size, as he did everyone else in the entire show but on close inspection it was Ben that had the edge in quality with detail and separation where the heavyweight winner did not. It was an apples vs oranges contest all the way until the two men compared most musculars where it then became apparent that relative to his height and frame, Ben appeared to carry more than enough muscle to challenge his heavier foe. After a spirited pose down we announced a 4-2 result in the overall, with “Gentle” Ben nodding his head sideways towards Sam in a modest display which indicated he believed the bigger man had taken the win. When his name was announced as overall winner though, the look on Bens face went from admiration to shock to pure emotion in a matter of seconds as tears began to stream down his face as he was presented with both the Overall and Best Poser awards by our representatives from USN. A gracious Sam was the first to congratulate him as a potential epic rematch for the finals was set in the offing.
And that bought the 20th Anniversary of the Heart of England to a close, in what was by far the greatest rendition of the event in its history. May it enjoy another 20 years of success and act as the breeding ground for many more future stars along the way.
On now to the finals, and the biggest spectacle of natural muscle in our history. See you there.