2017 Southern Counties Championships
Photos courtesy of Sam Solarfly, Matt Marsh Photography
The second annual Southern Counties returned to the stunning Camberley Theatre as 70 athletes battled it out in front of a packed and sold out audience for their spot on the podium and chance to contest the finals 10 weeks later. With a standard of athlete rarely seen at this level, the top 3 in most classes could well have been the finals with every class winner truly World level.
Results were as follows:
1 – Arron Hutchinson (Sandhurst). Defending his title successfully, but only just was Arron. A little bigger than last year but with the same classical shape and proportion shown off with smooth “old school” posing, Arron still needs to nail that condition heading in to the finals. It was very close between the top three, but Arron proved just a little too big to be beaten today.
2 – Tommy Burgess (Newcastle Under Lyme). A first timer who looked to have mastered his conditioning like a veteran Pro for this contest, he was ripped and ready with deeply etched quads and midsection and a nice top to bottom balance. A little more confidence and flow with his posing and a touch more fullness will help him try and turn the tables on the winner at the finals.
3 – Joe Hobbs (Thatcham). Potentially World Class with an amazing structure boasting wide shoulders, deep ribcage and a narrow waist. Joe had incredible legs for a teen and could be a major force in years to come. He needs to bring his upper body into balance long term, but if he sharpens up for the finals could too turn the tables and lift the title.
4 – Jake Lemon (Andover). Taller and leaner in build than the others, but with a well-balanced and muscular physique in decent shape, Jake just needs time to fill that frame and fulfil his potential. Jake posed well and was more than worthy of his finals berth.
1 – Henry Manning (Chichester). A winner of a razor thin decision in a class where any of the three men could have won without argument, Henry took the title by virtue of his overall size and thickness which like the teen class before his proved too much for the other men today. Massive quads and a scary most muscular pose, Henry appeared mature beyond his years and with a little improvement to his posing will be one to watch at the finals.
2 – Jack Storer (Taunton). Tall and ripped with particularly hard quads, abdominals and pecs with great presentation. Jack looked a little tired onstage at times and a little flat when viewed from the back after a succession of recent stage appearances no doubt took their toll. A fuller, fresher Jack at the finals could see him reverse todays result.
3 – Alex Rich (New Milton). Good enough to have won most other contests, it was just the luck of the draw which kept Alex in third today. Not quite as big as the winner and not quite as hard as the runner up but with great arms and legs with a particularly impressive thigh sweep from the rear. Alex should not disheartened by todays result and head to the finals determined to reproduce todays form and crack the high placings.
1 – Mohammed Basith (Croydon). A clear win for a rock hard and heavily muscled Mo, whose condition was impeccable and served to set off his rugged muscularity perfectly. No real weak body parts, and when in this condition will always be hard to ignore. Mo needs to relax into his posing a little more as he can look a little stiff at times, but should expect to be very much in the mix at the finals.
2 – Paul Harradine (Portsmouth). The defending champ was improved over last year, with more size overall and his usual rock hard and detailed upper body but could not seem to reproduce the same condition in his legs which was a major factor in his finishing second today. Dial it in from the waist down Paul and you could be yet another athlete who turns things around from today.
3 – Matthew Hall (Aylesford). Vastly improved from last year in terms of overall size and confidence of presentation, Matthew had a very well put together physique that was pleasing to the eye and didn’t have any real discernible weakness. Condition should be the focus now, and when this element is where it needs to be, the class win is well within his reach.
4 – Nicholas Hodgson (London). Nicholas was thickly muscled and well-conditioned, albeit on a more compact frame than the rest of the class. He boasted good chest and quads and enjoyed his stage time. His tan was very pale and his posing needing some extra coaching, but todays appearance no doubt served as a great learning experience for Nicholas and I’m sure he’ll be back and better than ever in future.
1 – John Swaby (Dagenham). John stormed to victory in his UKDFBA debut, bringing his seasoned and mega high quality physique to the stage in his usual trademark shredded condition. With at least three national titles to his name previously, John is definitely one of the front runners for the year and is a strong bet to add a fourth to his collection.
2 – Shawn Howard-Greenfield (Lancing). Another UKDFBA debut came from a best ever Shawn, who was harder and leaner than in any previous contest with some excellent muscular detail in his legs and arms in particular. Shawn thoroughly deserved his place at the finals where he should look to reproduce todays form and display himself a little more confidently, focusing on opening up a little more on his back shots in particular.
3 – Adrian Hampton (Devizes). As heavily muscled and well-shaped as ever, Adrian was not in the lean condition he is capable of and it cost him today. With plenty of time left in the season to put this right, expect Adrian to secure his qualification and go on to stand proud at the finals.
4 – Christopher Walker (Downham Market). An inspirational man who has overcome quadruple heart bypass surgery to stand onstage at 57 years of age in incredible shape, Chris boasted well developed and muscular arms and legs with particularly hard quads and well developed calves. If Chris can get a little tighter over the coming weeks he too could find himself qualifying for the big one in October.
Masters Ladies Figure
1 – Lorraine Hills (Aldershot). Lean, balanced and impeccably presented with great delts and a tiny waist, Lorraine was a clear winner today and could be one to watch at the finals. Her condition was bordering on being too hard, and she needs to keep an eye on this and not cross the line in this respect. That being the case, she will be hard to beat at amateur level.
2 – Alex Kokkonen (Walsall). Another lady who boasted great condition, although slightly softer than the winner with good overall development. Alex is stronger in the torso than the limbs and should focus on leg and arm development to balance her out but a little leaner overall and she too should be “up there” at the finals.
3 – Amanda Gaborne Voros (Bristol). Really well balanced with an ideal level of muscle development and a lovely overall shape, presented confidently and precisely. Amanda needs a little more hardness for the finals where she could be the dark horse and pull off a real upset if she nails it condition wise.
4 – Elaine Lepkowski (Portsmouth). Lean and with a great shape, Elaine too had a very good overall figure which would have been good enough to place top three on any other day. Perhaps a little more developed from the waist up than in the legs, just a few percent here and a touch harder and she will leap up the placings wherever she competes.
5 – Gemini Lawton (Hemel Hempstead). A lovely structure and shape with great well balanced muscle development, Gemini needs to reproduce the condition she showed at previous showings in order to reap the rewards that her overall package deserves. Also competed: Lisa Ali (Hastings), Tracy Austin (Horley). Both ladies had well developed shapes but needed to be harder to make an impact today.
Also competed: Lisa Ali (Hastings), Tracy Austin (Horley)
1 – Thomas Darling (Southend). A clear winner in this class and one of the best novice competitors we’ve seen all season with a heavily muscled and well balanced package on his tall and wide shouldered frame. Thomas was in good condition which he should look to take a few percent sharper for the finals and brush up his posing a little in order to really make life difficult for his fellow novice challengers.
2 – Lee Chambers (Camberley). A more compact physique but no less densely muscled than Thomas from the front and side, Lee looked superb for a first timer and too will challenge hard at the finals if he can get a little sharper. Long term, Lee needs to focus on bringing his back up to match the rest of his physique to do damage in the open divisions.
3 – Gareth Anderson (Bridgend). At his absolute best yet, Gareth was both harder and fuller than his USN Classic and Caledonian showings and thoroughly deserved his spot in the finals where he should look to bring this exact same package to the stage. Long term, Gareth needs to focus on upper body mass to bring himself into balance for future success in the open classes.
4 – Damiano Mita (Leighton Buzzard). Near perfectly balanced with a very aesthetically pleasing shape and rock hard condition, Damiano bought to the stage a very well thought out physique with bags of potential. He just needs to keep everything growing in proportion now and add some size overall.
1 – Alice Wearn (Guildford). Taking the class in a very tight decision against the runner up, Alice advantage came from being a little harder and leaner. A great athletic shape which will stand out in any line up.
2 – Rhiannon Ahern (Abercarn). A little heavier muscled than the winner with an equally impressive shape, Rhiannon could realistically turn the tables on the winner at the finals and find herself as one of the frontrunners for the title when she brings her condition in a little harder.
3 – Andrea Mihalcea (Uxbridge). Lean and with a nice shape, Andrea needs to focus on adding a little more overall size.
4 – Natalie Liu Roach (Uxbridge). Natalie was in absolutely perfect condition for the class, and boasts an ideal structure. She needs to now just take time to add the necessary muscle size required to place higher.
5 – Kara Yui (Kingston). With a well-developed athletic physique, Kara could easily find herself progressing up into figure in the not so distant future. Her conditioning was where it needed to be and she has a top three placing well within her reach. She can sometimes look a little tense and stiff presentation wise, and seems to shrug her shoulders and hold her hands very high on her front and rear poses which makes her upper body look a little bunched up and shallow, which it is not. This can easily be addressed with the right practise. Also competed: Imola Toth (Bristol), Gurdeep Sidhu (Slough), Kerri-Ann Angus (Cumbernauld), Shelley Dwight (Leighton Buzzard) and Victoria Strel (Horsham). Gurdeep and Victoria will benefit from more size overall whereas Imola and Shelley need to be a little harder. Kerri-Ann too just needs a little more condition, and make some changes to her stage attire as her suit was a little too high cut and elaborately decorated which did distract from her physique somewhat.
Also competed: Imola Toth (Bristol), Gurdeep Sidhu (Slough), Kerri-Ann Angus (Cumbernauld), Shelley Dwight (Leighton Buzzard) and Victoria Strel (Horsham)
Mens Physique, Short
1 – Simon Gooding (Vale of Glamorgan). In a tough three way battle for the winners spot, Simon took a deserved win by being the best balanced in terms of the required elements for the discipline. A little out massed by the runner up but better proportioned, and almost matching the shape of the third placed athlete with more muscle overall he successfully retained his title and will go into the finals as one of the favourites. Improving every time he competes, it would take a fool to bet against Simon bagging national level honours at some point in the near future.
2 – Tyler Kelly (Bristol). A little heavier muscled than Simon with a nice taper and midsection, Tyler could benefit from being a touch harder today. As impressive as they are, Tyler’s shoulders do overpower the rest of his upper body a little and throw off his balance somewhat.
3 – Nick Chapman (Portishead). Perfectly conditioned and with a beautiful aesthetic shape, Nick could have won without any complaint and in fact took a first place vote from one of the judges as did the runner up. A little more size long term will see him climb the placings further but regardless he’ll be well in the mix at the finals.
4 – Izaak Dunk (Aldershot). Only just missing the top three by a whisker and as good as all those who placed ahead of him from the front, Izaak needs to focus on bringing his back up to balance out his development. When he does, he can expect to be in the trophies without doubt.
5 – Gerald Barreda (Camberley). Vastly improved from last year with both extra size and harder condition, Gerald is well on his way to meeting his potential if he carries on improving at this rate. Keep doing what you’re doing Gerald. Also competed: Stephen Micelli (Milton Keynes) who needed more size overall, Francis Williams (Brighton) who was big and hard and probably better suited to Bodybuilding, Sulav Strestha (Farnborough) needed to be harder, Larry Wen (London) who had a lovely shape and will be one to watch as he grows and matures, Antony Jestico (Uxbridge) who was very close to cracking the top 5 with a great overall package, Daniel Assinder (Bargoed) was impeccably conditioned and presented but needs more size and Bradley Collyer (Potters Bar) who too was nipping at the heels of the top 5 and could have placed several slots higher if he was harder.
Also competed: Stephen Micelli (Milton Keynes), Francis Williams (Brighton), Sulav Strestha (Farnborough), Larry Wen (London), Antony Jestico (Uxbridge), Daniel Assinder (Bargoed), Bradley Collyer (Potters Bar).
Mens Physique, Tall
1 – Peter Laurie (Hitchin). About as heavily muscled as the class will allow and bordering on being a touch too hard but a deserving winner in this class, Peter needs to ensure he doesn’t push any harder than he did today at the finals and risk “crossing the line” in terms of muscularity.
2 – Simon Weidmann (Exeter). Lighter muscled but with a very distinctive shape, Simon was in hard condition and posed well. He has room for a little more size on his frame yet and should try and come to the finals stage a little fuller than today as this may benefit him.
3 – Chris Davies (London). Improved from his USN Classic showing and incredibly happy to break into the trophies and earn his place at the finals, Chris was the most pleasing of the top three in terms of shape and structure and could have placed higher with no complaints. Going forwards, a tad more condition in the short term and a little more mass long term should be his goals.
4 – Gleb Steshov (London). Notably harder than the USN Classic, but a little too much so was Gleb who was “Bodybuilding” hard and detailed. Somewhere in between where has been in his last 2 appearances would be ideal and could see Gleb make the trophies.
5 – Rhys Spackman (Swindon). Another man vastly improved from last year with good condition and presentation to show off his extra muscle, Rhys is another who just needs to keep doing what he’s doing. Also competed: Adrian Baczkowski (Slough) who was well built but needed more condition today, Callum Vamplew (Gravesend) who was a little outmuscled by the top 5, Karzan Amin (Thatcham) who was in great shape with a really aesthetic physique but would benefit from showing off a little more thickness as he poses, Stephen Otieno (Staines) and Dan Layton (Greenhithe) who both need to focus on gaining mass and coming in a little harder.
Also competed: Adrian Baczkowski (Slough), Callum Vamplew (Gravesend), Karzan Amin (Thatcham), Stephen Otieno (Staines), Dan Layton (Greenhithe).
Ladies Figure, Open
1 – Alex Kokonnen (Walsall)
2 – Amanda Gaborne Voros (Bristol)
3 – Charmaine Scribbins (Taunton)
4 – Elaine Lepkowski (Portsmouth)
5 – Tracy Austin (Horley)
6 – Victoria Strel (Horsham)
With the majority of the entrants in the class already having stood together in the Masters, it was a straightforward process of establishing where Charmaine and Victoria fell into the mix. Charmaine was good enough to break into the trophies and has great potential for the future if she adds some muscle, particularly to her lower body. Victoria is better suited to bikini at this stage of her development but looked great all the same.
1 – Danni Teresa (Exmouth). A dominant winner in this small but talent rich class was reigning champ and last years UK runner up Danni. Improved all over since last season, she just needs to dial in that last stretch condition wise now leading up the finals where there’s no doubt she’ll be a favourite.
2 – Vesna Kochoska (London). A very well balanced and nicely shaped physique in lean condition, Vesna was both lucky and unlucky in equal measure to come up against an athlete as good as Danni, in that she’d have been good enough to win against most other opponents but now has the valuable experience of facing one of the country’s best athletes. Vesna has a bright future in the sport and thoroughly deserved her finals invitation.
Open Men, Lightweight
1 – Jason Wright (Bletchley). In yet another mega hard line up in which any of the top three could have won without dispute, Jason “massed” his way to the top spot eventually with legs which looked like they belonged on a heavyweight and upper body width not far behind and rock hard condition. Long term, a little more thickness in that upper body is needed to even out his balance and potentially vault him to Pro level. Jason posed incredibly well and deservedly took home the Best Poser award.
2 – Achie Gyedu (Bracknell). Aesthetically the most pleasing of the top three with beautiful rounded muscle bellies and an incredible sweep and depth to his quads was Achie. Although the smallest of the three and slightly less conditioned, the overall impact of his physique could not be denied and he pushed the winner hard.
3 – Lee Adams (Portsmouth). His absolute best ever showing, with condition and separations to be envied in every part of his body, Lee was shredded and carried some serious muscle. It was merely the subjectivity of the sport which saw him land in third today and by no means a reflection of his being deficient compared to the first two. Long term, Lee needs to hammer his back and try and develop as much upper body width as he can as this was his main developmental area. For the finals, a little adjustment to his posing may help as he doesn’t show himself off to his best at times.
4 – Lee Chambers (Camberley). Holding his own admirably and good enough to crack the placings in most other classes, Lee has a very bright future at this level once his novice season is over.
5 – Larry Wen (London). Showing great promise and a nice natural shape, Larry is another to watch out for as he grows and matures.
Open Men, Middleweight
1 – Dan Watkins (Aylesbury). Giving the judges no such dilemma in the middleweights was Dan, who was a clear and decisive winner of the class. Big and hard, with great quads and deeply etched abs he couldn’t be touched today. Dan will go on to challenge hard at the finals in this form.
2 – Jamie Wills (Swindon). Originally a lightweight entrant, Jamie had a great shape and carried plenty of muscle and in no way looked outsized in this division. A tad harder for the finals should be the goal and focus on adding the mass to move up this weight division long term would be wise as Jamie appears to have the frame of a natural middleweight.
3 – Paul Harradine (Portsmouth). Giving as good as he got and only missing out on second place by a whisker, Paul followed up his masters showing with his trophy slot in the open class for the second year in a row.
4 – Harj Singh Mann (Twickenham). A superb UKDFBA debut from Harj who was one of the best posers of the day with an incredible routine. Physique wise, Harj has a great upper body taper and a densely muscled back which was one of the best in the whole show. A little more leg mass and tighter condition overall and this could be a man to watch!
5 – Jake Lemon (Andover). Giving as good as he got in the comparisons and looking at home in the company of such great physiques, Jake reiterated his huge potential for the future.
Open Men, Heavyweight
1 – Thomas Hicks (Bridgend). Thomas took his second Heavyweight and Overall win in a row (following his showing at the Caledonian the month before), this time taking his condition to the next level and presenting himself onstage in possibly the best condition of any heavyweight in UKDFBA history. It did come at the expense of a little fullness though, especially in his legs and Thomas now needs to spend some time between now and the finals reaching a balance between the two packages he has presented recently.
2 – Dusan Zuber (London). A great heavyweight with a huge and full chest and back and a great overall shape and balance. Dusan needs a little more condition in the lower body to finish off the puzzle now but is a smart and level headed guy who knows what he needs to do in order to be at his best for the finals.
3 – Scott Jezzard (Wantage). A massive man with probably the most aesthetic physique of the class, with an incredible “X shape” bought about by his wide shoulders, narrow waist and huge, flaring thighs. Once he dials in that condition to peak levels, Scott could well turn the tables on both men and prove to be very difficult to beat at the finals should he take up his invitation.
4 – Henry Manning (Chichester). For a 22 year old man to hold his own in such an incredible line up of “real” heavyweights like the ones we had today is no mean feat and Henry did that and more, pushing hard for a top three slot.
The contest came to a close with Thomas’ aforementioned Overall win, as he proved too big and too hard for the others despite being pushed hard by Dan, Jason and Mohammed in particular. Lifting his second overall title of the season, he sent out a clear message that he was a force to be reckoned with at the finals in 10 weeks. And with that, our second Southern Counties was done and dusted. Thank you to everyone who made this incredible day possible.