Monday, 26 September 2016

Physique Dreams: Theresa?!

No easy job, following the women of RP2016 and ultimately the Queen herself.

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Step forward Hot and Hard 100 #4 Theresa Ivancik, who we find here competing at the IFBB North Americans in Pittsburgh just over a week before Penpraghai and Alina returned to the stage and Margie donned that fiery posing suit in Arizona.

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Now in case you have been living on a remote island or something, Theresa has been a regular at the big amateur national shows since 2014. She has made almost getting your pro card something of an art form, managing to finish 2nd in her class (2015 NPC Nationals, 2016 NPC USAs) and miss out, or even, at the 2015 IFBB North Americans, winning her class but then losing out on the pro card in the overall posedown.

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This year she brought her best package by far - and that's saying something. Tanned, beautiful, her best ever conditioning. She's spent time this year focusing on her legs, "turning a weakness into a strength" as she puts it, but she hasn't sacrificed any of that glorious size, that swoonworthy thickness that we all love in her upper body.

Problem was, Theresa was competing in the Physique division.

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Last year, she'd also turned up in the Physique division at the North Americans as well as coming so close to the pro card in Bodybuilding. I'd assumed it had been a joke, a bit of a laugh at the judges' expense. This year though it was Physique only, Theresa - the Bodybuilder - against 17 Physique specialists in her class, more women than there were in the entire Bodybuilding division at the show. This was no joke.

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Predictably, she didn't do great, although 8th out of 18 is no disgrace. Thinking I was a smidgen too big, Theresa told her Instagram followers afterwards. Oh really, Theresa, do you think?! Maybe it really was a joke. Watch out 2017, she warns, I'm not playing around anymore! But Theresa, darling, why are you playing around at all?

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Not exactly business as usual on the stage for Theresa then, although very much the usual disappointment for her and her many supporters. What also didn't change was the customary consolation of many many pics of Theresa away from the show in contest shape, sizzling with muscle sexiness whether wearing more or less.

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I especially like those ones on the bed. Damn!

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Despite everything, Theresa celebrated her birthday right after the North Americans. She's 32 now, I believe, five years younger than Margie Martin, who didn't win her pro card until she was 34. So there's time yet for Theresa, for what she does she still qualifies as "young", and the chances are she hasn't reached her peak quite yet.

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Her peak as a BODYBUILDER, that is.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Queen Recrowned

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As we noted recently on FMS, for the past year female bodybuilding has had a worthy champion indeed. Worthy of her title - she was the best at the inaugural Rising Phoenix, although Helle was close. Worthy of the name - a humble, gracious champion, respectful of her peers, supportive of the people who nurture her sport.

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18 of the world's finest lady bodybuilders are about to take the stage... 
(and Margie makes sure every single one is included)

And she's sexy as hell.

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Really, all due respect and everything but was I the only one who found it comforting that, for a change, the best female bodybuilder in the world was also one of the sexiest? I don't go about preaching the female muscle gospel (except here!) but if I did, it would be a lot easier to convince people about female muscle with a pic or a clip of Margie than certain other past champions I could mention. You'd have to go back to Yaxeni in 2005 to find a Ms Olympia winner who knew how to bring her feminine sex appeal to the stage. But not in the last year. Margie's all muscle and all woman.

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And the champion again. Despite the confident predictions that Alina only had to turn up, or indeed that this year would be Helle's year, the Queen of the 2015 Rising Phoenix was recrowned. And once again, there were few complaints. But that doesn't mean the result was predictable - far from it. Just like last year, nobody was sure until the announcement was made. Including the champion herself.

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This is my 12 weeks transformation, she told her Instagram followers after the prejudging. I couldn't be more proud of myself and what I've accomplished. Finals are tonight and I can't say right now where I'll land but as far as I'm concerned I brought exactly the look I wanted and I couldn't be happier... Well that's not true I would be pretty fricking ecstatic to successfully defend my title. We shall see...

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Gosh she makes me swoon. All that beautiful BEEF! The way her massive, rippling quads bulge outwards; the thickness and definition across her back; that hamstring drop (see how I'm learning the lingo!) curved like a mighty bow (and adding a bit of lyrical panache all of my own!) about to unleash its firepower... I'll stop now.

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It didn't seem possible, but she looked even bigger and better for the evening show in her fiery posing suit - I felt like a Rising Phoenix, she said. As always, she seems to have gone all out for the finals, leaving none of her sass back in the hotel room. I haven't seen any video of her routine as yet, but I'm 100% sure that when I do, I'm going to be watching it more than once. She looks so fierce and powerful, and yet, so feminine.

Exactly how I want my champ to be.

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I felt, last year, that Margie had gone to the Tampa Pro and gone out on stage and demanded the judges give her first place, just with the force of her attitude. She performed the same trick at the inaugural Rising Phoenix, and it seems to me that she did it once again here. And while she was testing the metal of her medal and raising her mighty shield aloft, I really want her to be saying "Bitch all you want Iris, I'm the Queen now!", though of course she is far too gracious a Queen to even think that.

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So, the champ again, the champ for another year. She's started off by rebranding herself. She's no longer the "Queen of Quads" (well, not in name anyway, they are still the mightiest meatiest thighs around), now she's "Ms Rising Phoenix". She's customised (or "McGyver'd" in Margie-speak) some of her Wings of Strength freebies. And she's been enjoying her post-contest body and not shy about making sure you know it.

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Just enjoying being big and lean! she says. I really don't think female bodybuilders put this out there enough, but Margie tells it like it is. She looks exactly how she wanted to look, and as her body, finally refuelled with carbs, regains its power, she feels - for a short time at least - incredible, invincible, the sexiest woman on the planet. We spend so much time getting ready for a show and then afterwards it's important to have fun. Got a little arm work in today, nice pump. OOOOOH I love it! And the kind of fun Margie has with it is definitely my kind of fun. Prepare for Quadgasm!

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Ridiculously, I'm already thinking a third year in a row is unlikely.

I guess I'm just not used to having an FBB champion who I, who everyone seems to adore so much. I guess I'm still not used to having a Queen who is just such a stone cold sexy female. I definitely feel I could get used to it though. It definitely feels right.

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Much love to the Queen!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Return of Alina Popa

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There was, one way or another, a real air of expectancy about Alina Popa's return to the stage as the day of the Rising Phoenix approached. Some hoped this would be the show where Alina would finally be recognised as the best female bodybuilder in the world, others were just excited that she was back and would be competing again.

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Worth the wait - Alina @Ms Olympia 2014, and about to take the stage @RP2016

The 2014 Olympia was the last time we had seen her in her posing suit. She had finished 2nd to Iris for the 2nd year in a row, and ever since the idea that she was robbed by the judges at that last ever Olympia, or even on both occasions, had evolved from an opinion into a hard fact in the minds of Alina fans everywhere. She's been sitting on the sidelines for so long due to injury that I'm sure she extremely motivated to come back with a vengeance, and she's had all the time in the world to fine-tune anything that needs fine-tuning, read one typical comment. I'd be shocked if Alina doesn't win.

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Alina, 7 weeks out

In the FMS RP preview, we were bigging up Alina ourselves, although readers should note the "if" in the sentence - we weren't quite as sure about the result as some were. She was the fan favourite at the last two Ms Os, we wrote, and her popularity has barely waned since. She has the admiration and affection of her peers as well. And if, when Saturday comes, Alina is, at last, going to be crowned the champion of her sport, she will be a champion who fought for her sport through its darkest hour.

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In the end, Alina didn't win. And she wasn't the runner-up either. 3rd place was what, it turned out, the judges gave her, and though many disagreed with them about the identity of the runner-up, there were few complaining about her placing, and those that did were not given much truck on the forums. Take your Alina fanboy glasses off, one poster who claimed "Alina was robbed" was told. She deserved her placing.

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But there was, as always for Alina, a whole lotta love. It had been a tear to her Achilles tendon followed by another in her bicep a few weeks apart after the Olympia that had caused the long lay-off. The mood afterwards was one of rejoicing that she had returned at all, and the fact that she had returned after such nasty injuries and still looked like a potential winner was also worthy of celebration. So glad she's fully recovered and back in the game, was a typical sentiment after the show. To another fan, Alina was simply "awesome". To bounce back like this after such horrendous injuries is a true testament to her will and dedication to the sport, he wrote.

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When images of the show became available, to my untrained eye she didn't look any less of a goddess than she had done in 2014. Those genes haven't been affected by the injuries! She's so huge and thick and cut, and yet at the same time so poised and feminine and beautiful. But when I saw a short clip of the posedown I couldn't help noticing that it was Margie and Helle and Sheila who dominated the middle of the stage, with Alina on the edges. She serenely moves into the centre to join them towards the end of the clip, and then it rather abruptly ends. About sums it up, I thought.

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The Iris-out-so-Alina-can-win conspiracy theorists were proved utterly wrong, though I wouldn't bet against Alina coming back next year and getting her hands on the winner's cheque. Then again it probably wouldn't take you long to convince me she won't win next year either. Her competitive career is, I sincerely hope, far from over, but right now it is in her career as a coach where success is coming more easily.

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Lisa, and her coach and her inspiration @RP2016 check-in

Lisa Cross and Elena Oana Hreapca are the two biggest names of many who Alina has been training from her Colorado base. One, the 2016 North Americans overall FBB champion Jennie Roosa, will be a new name to watch in the pro ranks in 2017. So perhaps Alina isn't destined to be remembered as the great champion with countless titles to her name after all. Nevertheless, she may yet leave a considerable, and much more important legacy to female bodybuilding. That legacy won't just be in the shape of the countless women she has already inspired and will go on inspiring into building muscle in her beautiful image, but also in the shape of Jennie and the many other women who she brings on in the sport as its struggle to survive continues.

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Jennie Roosa - Mini Popa?

Time will tell. For now, isn't it GREAT to see her on stage again?

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Alina on Instagram.