Three major events will take place in the IFBB Professional League this weekend, as Men’s Bodybuilding and Bikini come to England and a pair of all-female contests will take place on opposite coasts in the United States.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX
It’s all about Shawn Rhoden in Men’s Bodybuilding as the breakout star of the year looks to continue one of the most memorable seasons in recent memory. Rhoden, who just last year was looked at as a middle-of-the-road competitor with potential, has launched himself into elite status with three wins and a top-three placing at the Olympia.
Rhoden’s run started in August, with back-to-back wins at the Europa Super Show and the Tampa PBW Championships and continued in September with an Olympia placing no one predicted. He heads to Britain looking to win his second back-to-back series of the year and fourth contest overall.
His main competition will come from the seemingly ageless Toney Freeman, who was perhaps the most overlooked competitor at the wacky world known as last week’s Arnold Classic Europe. Freeman, who celebrated his 46th birthday in August, has placed 2nd (Tampa Pro), 3rd (Europa Super Show), 7th (Mr. Olympia), 3rd (Sheru Classic) and 5th (Arnold Classic Europe) in his last five contests. Johnnie Jackson, Hidetada Yamagishi, Robert Piotrkowicz and Ronny Rockel could also be in the mix in what should be an interesting top five.
In the 212 division, new 212 Showdown winner Flex Lewis hopes to solidify his claim as the No. 1 212 bodybuilder in the world in front of his home-country fans. Lewis, who was born in Wales and won his pro card by winning the Overall at the 2007 British National Championships, will undoubtedly build the English fans into a frenzy. But winning won’t be easy, as he’ll face a stacked lineup that includes two of the 212 Showdown’s top-four finishers in Eduardo Correa (3rd) and Jose Raymond (4th).
Bahrain’s Sami Alhaddad, who won the first-ever Amateur Olympia in Britain last year, will look to erase the memory of a bungled strategy in attempting to qualify for the 212 Showdown. Alhaddad created waves when he placed third in his pro debut at the New York Pro in May before inexplicably sitting on the sidelines for the rest of the season and allowing other competitors to pass him in the Olympia Qualification Series Standings.
FT. LAUDERDALE CUP
Thirty-five competitors head to Florida to compete in the Figure and Fitness divisions of the Ft. Lauderdale Cup, with a veteran who only recently got her due and one of the most decorated rookies in history leading the way.
In Fitness, Oksana Grishina has been competing in the IFBB Pro League since 2007, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that she won her first professional contest. That landmark win came in March at the St. Louis Pro, and a paved the way for Grishina’s recent string of successes – placing a career-best 2nd at the Fitness Olympia before her win over seven-time Fitness Olympia winner Adela Garcia at the Arnold Classic Europe last weekend.
She’ll be joined in Florida by three competitors who placed 6-7-8 at the Fitness Olympia in Bethany Cisternino, Camala Rodriguez and Ryall Graber-Vasani, all of whom would like to follow Grishina’s lead and score an upset win for the second straight week.
In Figure, Candice Lewis has already turned in a rookie campaign for the ages. Lewis, who turned pro at the 2011 Jr. Nationals, has piled up three wins in her first full season in the IFBB Pro League, making her one of the most decorated first-year competitors in the history of any division. She’ll look to win her second straight contest after coming out on top over accomplished veteran Teresa Anthony last weekend in Houston.
Her toughest opposition could come from Alicia Harris – provided Harris can come in the condition that saw her earn back-to-back top six placings at the Figure Olympia in 2010-2011 – Candice John (Pittsburgh Pro winner) and rookie Kamla Macko (Valenti Cup runner-up).
Yeshaira Robles will hope for a repeat performance from the last time she competed in Florida, when she won the Valenti Cup for the first win of her career. Outside of her ninth-place finish at the Olympia, Robles – who turned pro at the 2011 NPC Team Universe – has placed in the top three of each of her four contests in 2012. Lacey DeLuca, who earned her pro card this year by winning the Overall at the Jr. Nationals, finished second at the Valenti Cup and will look to turn the tables on Robles this time around.
TITANS GRAND PRIX
Women’s Physique returns to Southern California, with Patricia Mello and Karin Kimura looking to become the latest members of the new division to add multiple professional wins to their resumes. Sara Hurrle and Tamee Marie each have two wins in the first year of Women’s Physique. Mello won the Europa Show of Champions in April, one week after finishing as the runner-up to Hurrle at Southern California’s last Women’s Physique contest, the Los Angeles Grand Prix. Kimura won the Governor’s Cup in March and finished second to Marie at the Greater Gulf States in June.
Penpraghai Tiangngok, Sabrina Taylor and NeKole Hamrick have all placed in the top three of Women’s Physique contests this season making this one of the the deepest and most competitive lineups in the sport’s brief history.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX
212 MEN’S BODYBUILDING
FT. LAUDERDALE CUP
TITANS GRAND PRIX