All six events this year were, in terms of qualifying, equal. Four points for the runner-up, three for 3rd place, two for 4th and one for 5th. In the end, with four women tied for fifth place in the qualifying table, three points proved enough to claim a place at RP2016, meaning that in all, eight women qualified on points. Sadly though, when the competitor list was (finally) announced yesterday, there was no Bonnie Switzer-Pappas, and no FMS fave Cathy Lefrançois, both of whom had earned their spots at RP2016 with 3rd place finishes in Chicago and Toronto respectively.
So (after some hasty editing!) the qualifiers are...
2016 Best: 4th, Lenda Murray Pro-Am
RP 2015: 14th
Technically, Irene has for the second year running got a "special invite" to the RP after the two women mentioned above and ahead of her in the qualifying table weren't able to compete. Her best of 2016 in terms of placing came at the hard-to-find-pictures-of Lenda Murray Pro-Am, though most would agree she looked better at the final contest of the year in Tampa, even though she finished in 7th there. Encouraging for her then that she seems to have got better (and bigger) as the year has gone on.
2016 Best: 4th, IFBB Puerto Rico Pro
RP 2015: N/A
And the other late substitute "special invite" was given to Italy's gorgeous Silvia Matta. She has already competed three times this year - in Puerto Rico (4th), Toronto (7th) and Norfolk, Virginia (8th). Before Puerto Rico, FMS noted earlier in the year, Silvia had been unsuccessfully trying to make her way in the Women's Physique Division, so it's not only great to see she's been awarded a long overdue pro card, but also to see her flexing with her fists again. And it's great to see Italy once again being represented at the world's premier Female Bodybuilding event too.
2016 Best: 3rd, IFBB Tampa Pro
RP 2015: 8th
Argentina's most beefy has been a consistent top 3 finisher since 2013, and so it proved again when she made her one and only appearance of the year in Tampa last month. Consequently she has taken her run of qualification for the Ms Olympia and the Rising Phoenix to the last four years, a considerable achievement for a South American competitor. She had fantastic mass and was comic-book shredded, noted one fan after seeing her on stage. Her sheer size and muscle maturity were stunning. No reason not to expect much the same kind of shock and awe from Rita on Saturday.
2016 Best: 4th, IFBB Omaha Pro
RP 2015: N/A
You have got to love any woman who defies the "don't do a most muscular or else" IFBB directive (to women only, you will note, I believe the pose is encouraged in the men's game), but - as we've seen on FMS more than once before - there's so much more to love about Amanda than "just" her signature pose. And I reckon it's the same Spartan blood that she credits with her fascination for sculpting her physique that also gives her that fcuk-you-I-won't-not-do-what-you-tell-me attitude. 10 days out from the RP and that most muscular was certainly looking super after a shoulder workout, and I will be very disappointed if she doesn't give it some come Saturday. I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to share the stage with the most elite FBBs in the world, she told her IG followers. Congratulations Amanda! You're one of them now.
2016 Best: 2nd, IFBB Tampa Pro
RP 2015: 9th
We've never made any secret of our love for and pride in Britain's best female bodybuilder here at FMS, and it just grows and grows. Most recently that love and pride reached a new peak during her one and only 2016 appearance so far as Lisa's pink posing suit revealed her excitement was indeed just as enormous as we have always suspected it is when she's on stage. With Alina Popa in her corner, Lisa took her career to the next level in 2015 with the best result a British woman has achieved since the days of Gayle Moher. However, this also raised expectations to the point where her 2nd place to Sheila Bleck in Tampa seemed like an "only" rather than the 2nd best result a British woman has achieved since the days of Gayle Moher. A bone fide National Treasure - Lisa, that is, not the pink posing suit. Although both...
2016 Best: 2nd, Lenda Murray Pro-Am
RP 2015: N/A
When I said pictures of the Lenda Murray Pro-Am were few and far between, I was not joking. The above is the only image I've been able to turn up of female muscle legend Lora Ottenad on stage in 2016. Like some of the other women featured today, Lora has had an unexpectedly late flowering to her career - her runner-up spot in Norfolk was by far her best professional result - and all at the age of 53!
2016 Best: 2nd, IFBB Toronto Pro
RP 2015: N/A
When Nancy Clark took 2nd place over Cathy Lefrançois in Toronto, I must admit I was a bit surprised, and revisiting pictures of the show now, I still am. But over the years on the blog I think we have established pretty conclusively that I'm no judge, and though Nancy is never going to be the biggest woman on stage, you can't argue with the conditioning she had in Toronto. That 2nd place and a 3rd place at the Lenda Murray Pro-Am ensured that Nancy finished joint top of the qualification table, and I wouldn't for a second begrudge her a place at the Big Show. Yet another woman on what they call "the wrong side of 50", though if more women like Lora and Nancy start defying their years with such aplomb, that phrase will get used a lot less.
2016 Best: 2nd, IFBB Chicago Pro
RP 2015: N/A
I love this sport! says our final qualifier, Angela Rayburn, and I believe her. Since 2006 not a year has gone by without her competing at least once - and that's just the period covered by her Muscle Memory entry, her run may be even longer than that for all I know. A serious Amazon, towering over Jay Fuchs on stage in Chicago, or Juliana Malacarne in a not-so-little little black dress, for example, Angela ignites many a fantasy inside the hearts of female muscle lovers. I am completely smitten with her, she never fails to please, notes one fan who will no doubt be as happy as anybody she made the RP on points with 2nd in Chicago and 3rd in Omaha.
Tomorrow, two more Rising Phoenix contenders.