Monday, 5 September 2016
FMS RP2016 Preview: The Invited
Last seen: Ms Olympia 2014 (2nd)
RP 2015: N/A
Last year they handed out "special invites" like free papers at the tube station. Aleesha, Virginia, Shawna and Irene were all invited to join the first ever Rising Phoenix party. This year, Wings of Strength have dished out just one invitation - to Alina.
I think it is worth noting that they haven't invited Iris Kyle, who announced her "comeback" last September. Was it her attitude ("I think the money is right"), her assumption that WoS would invite her so that she wouldn't have to qualify? Or is it more about her lack of fight, the lack of leadership she provided for female bodybuilding when she was #1? Have WoS (and the FBB sisterhood) decided they can do without the former champion who failed to champion her sport?
Nevertheless, there was nothing to stop Iris qualifying. She could, in all probability, have gone to any of this year's pro shows and won. She didn't, and neither did Alina, but Alina, in contrast to Iris (who by her own admission "was sitting back and seeing exactly what was taking place" last August) was promoting the inaugural Rising Phoenix through her social media before the event. This year, among other things, she took part in the FBB get-together WoS organised, and helped to provide the Omaha Pro with a memorable guest poser. So, Alina has been, in every sense, "down" with Wings of Strength, and probably had assurances that she wouldn't need to qualify long before her invitation was announced - as long ago as March she was talking about competing there though it wasn't until June that she was formally invited. Even so, when she was given the go ahead to compete, she said all the right things - I'm so honoured...
Is all this in any way controversial? If you're an Iris fan then yes, it probably is, but you are among a minority who thinks so. The fan forum vibe is very much excitement - if not ecstasy - that Alina has recovered from the injuries that led to her 2015 lay-off and is about to take the stage for the first time since the 2014 Ms Olympia.
And what she's been posting on her Facebook and Instagram as she has prepared has only added to that excitement. We even got a sneak preview of the suit recently!
[I'm] low on carbs and energy but truly with my mind in the game, she told her followers last week. Training to squeeze everything out of this body so that I can refill it to its peak perfection on the stage. We haven't seen her in this kind of shape for two years, but I bet you didn't need a picture to remember what her "peak perfection" looks like. She was the fan favourite at the last two Ms Os, and her popularity has barely waned since. Crucially, 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.
Tomorrow, the women who've won in 2016.