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Udo's Choice

2018 Heart of England Championships

Photos courtesy of Sam Solarfly, Matt Marsh Photography

The final qualifier of the season truly did “save the best ‘til last” as 129 athletes of the absolute highest standard battled one last time this season for their place in the finals, roared on by our fifth consecutive sold out crowd of the year.

With many of todays class winners and those who followed them into the trophy places sure to be front runners at the upcoming finals, this show could easily have been the finals itself. To top it off we were treated to a great guest spot from WNBF Pro Ben Howard, five weeks out from his professional debut and in incredible shape, plus another incredible charity contribution raised for Zoes Place Baby Hospice from surplus ticket sales. The results were as follows:

Teenage Men

1 – Edward O’Regan (Eastleigh)

Lean, muscular and well balanced, Edward made an impressive start to his bodybuilding career and will be right at home on the finals stage.

Junior Men

1 – Henry Manning (Marlow)

2 – Arshdeep Singh (London) ** Best Poser

3 – Daniel Argent (Widnes)

4 – Christopher McCreadie (Stranraer)

5 – Greg Edwards (Norwich)

6 – James Hilton (Grantham)

A vastly improved Henry took the title in rock hard condition with muscle to spare. On this form, he will be a pre contest favourite going into the finals for sure. Arshdeep was structurally near perfect with ample muscle and incredible posing which saw him lift the best poser award for the whole show, but needed to be slightly harder today and if he nails his condition for the finals could turn things around from today. Likewise, Daniel was massively muscled, particularly in the upper body but just a little distance from the condition required today but could also put himself in contention for the finals in top shape. Both Arshdeep and Daniel as good as they were needed a little more mass in the lower body to be perfectly balanced and should focus on this long term. Christopher in fourth had an incredible physique which oozes potential but was too far from where he needed to be condition wise today to push for a higher placing. Greg and James were both in good shape and posed well but needed more overall size to challenge the higher placings on this occasion.

Masters Men

1 – Mark Thompson (Birmingham)

2 – Clifton Morais (Birmingham)

3 – Matt Hall (Maidstone)

4 – Darren Stephens (St Austell)

5 – Peter Pretorius (Redhill)

6 – Peter Maloney (Stockport)

A closely fought battle between the top 2 in this class saw a best ever Mark edge the win from Clifton. Mark was big, hard and well presented and just needs a little more in the quads to have been virtually perfectly balanced. Clifton was equally as well muscled and superior aesthetically, but needed a little more condition today. Matt took third in his best shape to date, but was not quite heavily muscled enough to trouble the top 2. Darren was lean and hard but more compact in structure meaning he didn’t quite have the size to make more of an impact in this line-up. Both Peters who took the fifth and sixth spots were well muscled and looked well balanced but were lacking condition and need to be harder.

Grandmasters Men

1 – Henry Elsom (Banbury)

2 – Gary Arbon (Thatcham)

3 – Rob Feesey (Axminster)

4 – Roy Vaughan (Dunstable)

5 – Ian Scammell (Bristol)

In possibly the best Grandmasters class ever seen at a UKDFBA qualifier, Henry made a triumphant comeback and secured a clear and decisive win in the class with unrivalled levels of muscle and condition. It will take somebody very special to stop him as he advances through the season. Gary, in his first season of competition looked incredible though and was hard, thickly muscled and well presented just needing a little more detail in the legs to be virtually complete. Living legend Rob took third, and while his battle tested body bears the scars of numerous injuries and years of wear and tear, his heavy mass and incredible condition still cannot be denied. Roy made a great UKDFBA debut and at over 60 years old looked incredible, defying nature with a very fresh looking physique which was lean and heavily developed. Former UK Champ Ian was a fraction off his best condition here but knows what he needs to do for the finals and clocked up some valuable stage time today.

Outside the top 5, but only just was Daniel Foggo who battled through a back injury to complete his season here and looked great with a well-shaped and muscular overall package. Adrian Hampton and Gerhard Struckmann were hard and lean but lacked the raw size to push the higher placings today whereas Paul Thorpe was a little down size and condition wise from the norm but having battled significant injury for most of the season looked great considering. He rightfully took the seasons “Blood and Guts” award in honour of his incredible determination and grit. Ian Preston-Kleine continues to improve and moves steadily towards what will be an impressive finished product and finally John Heath at over 70 years wowed the crowd with his youthful vigour onstage, despite being unable to match the physiques of the younger men in the class.

Ladies Masters Figure

1 – Rebekah Bailey (Ulverston)

2 – Alison Story (Rayleigh)

3 – Marlene Segre (Derby)

4 – Jackee Adamson (London)

5 – Sandra Lee (Nottingham)

A clear win for Rebekah, who boasted near ideal levels of muscle and conditioning for this discipline and presented herself like a professional. She will certainly be one to watch at the finals. Alison and Marlene were both excellent in their own right, both in good condition and capable of making an impact of the finals but neither with the muscle development to match the winner today. Jackee had a great shape and structure but needed to be a little leaner on this occasion whereas Sandra was lean and had a great shape but not quite the muscle mass to place higher, certainly suited better to Bikini at this stage of her career, as we would discover later on.

Out of the top 5 were Tracy Woodhead and Wendy Greenwood, who tied for 6th place and both looked improved from the USN Classic. Karyn Clark, Bry Goodliffe and Jayne Anderson all came to the stage in admirable shape, but lacked the muscle and condition to place higher today.

Novice Men, Lightweight

1 – Sean Walker (Cosford)

2 – John Russell (Dudley)

3 – Andrew Dursley (Swindon)

4 – Harjit Singh (Dudley)

5 – Chad Letherbarrow (Basildon)

The first Novice division of the day was taken by a rock hard Sean, who boasted a balanced physique in great condition. With a few tweaks to his posing and a little more confidence onstage he will feature prominently at the finals. John took a well deserved second, hard and cut and much more suited to this class as opposed to Mens Physique where he competed in June. Again, a little more posing experience will stand him in good stead. Third placed Andrew had one of the heaviest developed and definitely the best shaped physique in the class and had his condition matched the first two would have possibly taken the win today. Harjit too was big, balanced and well shaped but needed to be harder whereas Chad was cut with a great upper body but needs to bring his legs into balance and add a little more size overall.

Also competing were Jacob Fry and Jacob Taylor, both of whom looked great and with another years training to add some muscle and a little more condition could crack the placings.

Novice Men, Heavyweight

1 – Toby Davies (Farnham)

2 – Thomas Hill (Newark)

3 – Gavin Shergill (Nottingham)

4 – Anthony Bevas (Coventry)

5 – Simon Jones (Llandudno)

The heavyweight novice saw a comfortable win for Toby, who although was not the hardest in the class was bigger and more complete by a margin with good enough condition to show it all off. Runner up Thomas was big and hard, with enough muscle on his very tall frame to make him look well developed but with plenty of room for more as he evolves into a fully-fledged heavyweight. A shredded Gavin edged into third with the best condition in the class and a beautiful “X” shape to his tall, long limbed physique. He is another man who will benefit from more size as he moves forward into the open classes. Tying for third and landing in fourth on a tie breaker was Anthony, who although improving his condition from the USN Classic in June still has a little more to go in this respect. In top shape, he has the potential to leap up the placings at the finals should he choose to accept his invitation. Fifth placed Simon was big and full, just needing a little more condition today but good enough to hold off the rest of the field and take the final top 5 slot. Thomas Taylor, Luke Melville and Kypros Ellinas rounded out the class, all impressive but needing a little more size to tip the balance in their favour today.

Ladies Figure

1 – Grace Hall (Bristol)

2 – Natalia Jaremko (Penrhyn)

3 – Emily Terry (Carmarthen)

4 – Dora Burbank (St Andrews)

5 – Kara Yui (Kingston)

6 – Ruth Benjamin (Loughborough)

A close battle for the figure title ended with Grace edging out Natalia by the closest of margins. Both ladies carried the right amount of muscle for the class and were in good shape, but Grace was slightly harder in the lower body which saw her edge the win. Emily took third in very good condition but without the muscle development to push for the first two placings. Dora, Kara and Ruth all had very well figures with great shape but all needed to be a touch harder.

Ladies Bodybuilding

1 – Rebekah Bailey (Ulverston)

2 – Samantha Coyle (Shrewsbury)

3 – Pauline Ferguson (Glenrothes)

Rebekah took her second win of the day in the best condition of the three and superb balance. Samantha and Pauline both had very nicely balanced physiques but neither had the size or condition to trouble the winner today.

Open Men, Lightweight

1 – Damian Blackwood (Birmingham)

2 – Musa Dilek (Kingston)

3 – Craig Dyson (Hitchin)

4 – Thomas Brown-Hesketh (Sale)

5 – Steven Cheng (London)

6 – Fubara Tolufari (Leicester)

A very closely matched top 3 in this division fought tooth and nail for the title, with Damian coming out on top with his combination of hard condition, dense upper body muscle and aesthetic shape. With a little more leg mass in the future he has the potential to be unstoppable in this class. Musa took his second runner up spot of the season and was harder and denser than ever and vastly improved from last season. He now looks to the finals, where he is a sure bet to challenge hard for the trophies. Craig in third was perhaps had the best balance of shape and structure of the three, and could easily have placed higher with no complaints. This will be a very interesting rematch at the finals.

Thomas in fourth was big and full but needed to be harder today. Stephen was his best ever, but just outgunned by the bigger guys on this occasion. Fubara was tall and long limbed for a lightweight, and needed to be generally bigger and harder to make an impact in this line up. A little more time and training followed by a move to the novice class may suit him.

Open Men, Middleweight

1 – Charlie Neal (Chelmsford)

2 – Alex Tsang (Nottingham)

3 – Leon Bell (Nottingham)

4 – Marcos Gava (Bolney)

5 – Luke Harding (Chatham)

6 – Craig Martin (Nottingham)

Charlie dominated the middleweight class with a well built, shapely and rock hard physique with especially good quads and shoulders and threw his hat in the ring in emphatic style as a definite front runner for the finals. Alex returned to the contest much improved to take second with a very well balanced and heavily muscled physique which he displayed like a Pro with one of the best routines of the day, but has some progress to make on his condition if he hopes to reproduce his finals placing of last year. Last years runner up Leon was once again hard and balanced, and close to taking the runner up spot. Former Junior UK Champion Marcos just missed the top 3, and on his best form would have been well inside the trophies but was a touch off condition wise today and relatively pale onstage which made any detail he has very difficult to see. Luke and Craig in 5th and 6th both looked great with well-built physiques but needed to be tighter condition wise to trouble the placings today.

Open Men, Heavyweight

1 – Solomon Onaola (Stourbridge) ** Overall Winner

2 – Theo Golaub (Manchester)

3 – Daniel Osborne (Hemel Hempstead)

4 – Jonathan Mitchell (Dunstable)

5 – Philippe Davis (London)

In amongst the fact that we had a stage full of finals level athletes next, the battle of the day took place in the Heavyweight division, as Solomon and Theo locked horns in the most epic of match ups. Both huge and well proportioned, with very different but equally pleasing shapes these men were close to impossible to split. In the end, a jubilant Solomon took the decision by virtue of his slightly harder and more detailed package today. A respectful Theo took the runner up spot graciously, as the two sportingly head towards a rematch in 5 weeks’ time. Solomon, too big and impressive to be challenged after coming through this battle went on to take a unanimous judges vote for the overall.

Daniel in third was rock hard and detailed to a level rarely seen on a heavyweight, but needs a little more size on his frame to topple the likes of Sol and Theo. Jonathan took fourth with probably the best balanced and structured physique in the whole show, but as a natural middleweight not quite carrying the size needed to move up the placings here today and not quite the condition needed to show himself off to his absolute best. Phillipe rounded out the top 5 with a big, muscular physique which was more than worthy of a finals invitation and will no doubt be pushing for a trophy spot with slightly harder condition. Also competing were Tom Foot, Dan Smith and William Rooke. All three guys were impressive, would have placed in most other line ups and were just desperately unlucky to have come up against athletes of this standard today at a qualifier. William needed to be harder today whereas Tom and Dan should focus on a little more size, long term.

Ladies Bikini, Short

1 – Beth Brennan (Coalville)

2 – Noor Haddad (Sheffield)

3 – Rylie Maule (Rugby)

4 – Morgen Butler (Northampton)

5 – Cindy Ferreira (Jersey)

A clear win for Beth, who stood out clearly from the line up straight away with her lean athletic physique which she presented perfectly. Noor in runner up spot was impressive in her own right, and rightly earned her finals invitation. Rylie took the final top 3 placing, in great shape but needed a little more muscle to trouble the two ahead of her.

Morgen and Cindy rounded out the placings in great shape but also needed a little more muscle overall to place higher. Outside the top 5 were Tapiwa Onaola who was vastly improved from her last outing and heading in the right direction in terms of her progress, Claire Mann who was also very impressive and could have cracked the trophies with no complaints. Gabrielle-Angel Wilson had a nice shape but needed to be leaner, as was the case with Lauren Stevenson. Paris Pell and Haley Justice rounded out the class, again both impressive but needing a little more muscle.

Ladies Bikini, Medium

1 – Sandra Lee (Nottingham)

2 – Jess Shemmans (Coventry)

3 – Krisztina Sagi (Leeds)

4 – Sasha Francis (Nailsea)

5 – Claire Przybylak (Redditch)

Taking the class was Sandra, fresh from her Masters Figure showing earlier in the day. More suited to this class in terms of development and just needing to tweak her posing a little as she tended to pose “figure” and looked a little stiff at times. Jess was vastly improved from the USN Classic, bigger and leaner and deservedly earning her finals invite. Krisztina, Sasha and Claire rounded out the top 5, all in great shape but needing more muscle development long term.

Also competing were Iveta Vidina who lacked the muscle to place higher today, Nicola Humphries who was improved from her USN Classic showing and posed well and Macaila Pruce who had a nice structure and will challenge for the placings with a little more time and training to develop more muscle and come in harder.

Ladies Bikini, Tall

1 – Alexandra Dansco (Leeds) ** Overall Winner

2 – Lucy Henley (Thatcham)

3 – Rebecca Lewis (Mytchett)

4 – Sian Kenny (Liverpool)

5 – Samantha Rollins (Leicester)

An emphatic win for Alexandra in what was the strongest of the three height classes, with a stunning shape and great quads, shoulders and back taper. Close to carrying more muscle than the criteria favours, but with a level of hardness which complimented the discipline perfectly, Alexandra unanimously took the class and overall today and on this form will be a favourite at the finals for sure. Lucy looked incredible in taking second place, fitting the criteria near perfectly and good enough to have won most other contests. Rebecca in third was improved over her last showing, looking more confident onstage and deservedly taking a top 3 finish. Sian and Samantha both looked superb and were top 3 worthy on any other day. Sian will benefit from a little more upper body muscle but boasted superb leg development and good condition. Samantha was well developed and had a lovely shape but needed to be a touch harder.

Also competing were Cassi Streater who needed a little more hardness, Megan Baker who had a lovely shape and with a fraction more muscle and condition would leap up the placings, Jodie Beckett and Charlotte Pochin-Hawkes who need a little more size and Samantha Hughes who just missed the top 5 and needs a little more upper body to balance out her great leg development.

Mens Physique, Short

1 – Kevin Oo (Leeds) ** Overall Winner

2 – Bobby Fotheringham (Nuneaton)

3 – Izaak Dunk (Coventry)

4 – Robert Spiru (Basildon)

5 – Chao Wen (Leeds)

The toughest of the three Physique classes today, with the top three all superb. A vastly improved Kevin took the win as he epitomised Mens Physique near perfectly with a well conditioned and muscled aesthetic dream of a shape. It was no surprise to see him take the overall at the end of the contest where he was again virtually untouchable. Bobby took second, down on the condition which saw him take the USN Classic last year and with resulting fullness that had him pushing the border for size in the discipline. Bobby needs to reproduce last years condition for the finals where he will once again be in the running if he does. Izaak was back on form and way fuller looking than the Southern and now moves on to the finals. Robert was well developed and in great shape but couldn’t match the top 3 aesthetically today. Chao looked superb, with a great shape and condition but lacked the size to have an impact.

Also competing were Novice Light runner up John Russell who was better suited to bodybuilding with his hard vascular physique, Abishak Patel who was lean but needs more size, Hain Anh Nham who had a great physique and would be very impressive if he came in leaner, Akil Richards who although needs more muscle to be competitive looked to enjoy every minute onstage and Jasdeep Bhangu who lacked the condition needed for his wide shouldered physique to make the impact it could have today.

Mens Physique, Medium

1 – Conor Smith (Birmingham)

2 – Hinesh Shukla (Leicester)

3 – Christos Panayi (London)

4 – Adrian Baczkowski (Slough)

5 – Joshua Wingfield (Dartford)

An “Apples vs Oranges” tussle for first place between Conor and Hinesh, with both men having lovely shapes but Conor having the better developed physique and Hinesh smaller but more conditioned. In the end, Conor got the nod with both men making it through to the finals. Christos was muscular and lean but no match for the size of the winner or condition of the runner up. Adrian was his best yet, well built and lean but aesthetically perhaps always at a disadvantage in this discipline. It would be interesting to see him add a little size and take a crack at Novice Bodybuilding in the future where he may enjoy the success he deserves. Joshua was down on condition from the USN Classic, and would have probably been well in the top 3 had he been as lean here.

Outside the top 5 were Matthew White, Aaron Dare, Dan White and Macer Smith. All of these men could find themselves placing once they add the muscle needed.

Mens Physique, Tall

1 – Luke Humphreys (Longrock)

2 – Peter Laurie (Hitchin)

3 – Sam Harvey (London)

4 – Nathan Kennedy (Runcorn)

5 – Kristian Graham (Basildon)

The final class of the day was taken by Luke who was well muscled and balanced with a decent shape, which clinched the class for him today. Luke should focus on getting a touch harder for the finals if he contests them. Peter in second was in ideal condition and again carrying the right amount of muscle. Aesthetically, his natural shape will always leave him at a slight disadvantage in this discipline, which will often favour the wider shouldered, more tapered physique. Sam finally cracked the top 3 and bagged his invite to the finals in his best shape of the season. Sam still fails to present himself as aesthetically as he could, which is frustrating to see as the judges know that there is a greater physique than the one we’re being shown in there somewhere! Nathan was unlucky to miss the top 3, lean and with a lovely shape and structure and just needing a little more mass. Kristian rounded out the top 5 with a lovely balance and looking especially good in the back, and just needing to grow and get a touch harder while keeping the proportions he has. Rounding out the class were Daniel Goodair and Lucian Petrean, both of whom need more size and condition to break into the placings.

And moments later, as Short Class winner Kevin lifted the Overall title to close the day we waved goodbye to the last of the 2018 season qualifiers. On now to the finals, which on the strength of what we have seen this season so far promises to be our best yet.

See you there, for the final stop on the Road to LA!


Overall Winners

Blood & Guts Award

Guest Poser