The 1997 EFBB Championships...
The history that Nicola "Niki" Shaw made during the show was to become the first Lightweight competitor to win the Overall title and with it, her IFBB pro card.
Niki had been competing for less than three years, but soon after her win, she retired.
Now, if you listened to the clip as well as watched it, you would have heard her announced as Nicola Thomas. Thomas. We know another, more famous, British female bodybuilder with that name, don't we? Well, common name though it may be, it's no coincidence. Nicola "Niki" Shaw is Joanna Thomas' older sister.
In fact, it was because her older sister had got into bodybuilding that Joanna became interested in it herself. And in 1997 Niki beat Joanna (who was 3rd) in that Lightweight class, as far as I know the only time that they competed together.
The Thomas sisters. Lock up your sons!
Niki, apparently, became an A&E nurse, got married, had twin daughters - not necessarily in that order. And the next time we hear about her is on Joanna's blog in July 2012: My sister is now training to do time trial cycling and other types of bike comps. She was on her bike and a car did not see her so she gets hit and she goes over the top of the car. Thank God she was wearing a helmet as it saved her life. She took the brunt of the hit with her jaw and her shoulder, and then onto the floor. It ended up she fractured her jaw both sides and her collarbone. She had to go for surgery that day and have several titanium plates put into her face. She told me she doesn't remember anything but being on her bike one minute, and the next she thought she was waking up in her bed but she was on the pavement and thought "What am I doing here?" She is an ER nurse, 37, a mother of twin 6-year-old girls. She has had to take off 2 months from her job. My sister and I have not always seen eye to eye, but this last year we have become very close again and I love her dearly.
Thankfully, Niki made a full recovery. And earlier this year, there was more news of her. A post on the forum whose first rule is... from a fan who had never forgotten her:
I used to ask Joanna (frequently!) for pics of Niki when I chatted to Jo on the Diana the Valkyrie boards, but was never able to get any from her! (Probably annoyed her that I wanted pics of Niki rather than her, though I did buy hard copies of her pics!). However, I have recently, through the new amazing medium of social media, exchanged a few messages with Niki, and said how surprised, and pleased I was to be able to communicate with her after all these years, and how pleased I was to see her back training. She says she wants to return to compete in Physique, and is well on track with her contest prep. Evidence seems to confirm. No further info received, I do not know which contests she is prepping for, but great to see her. I never dared dream that she would ever be seen in contest shape again.
I'm back, Niki announced in one of the first posts on her new Instagram in October.
And since then, she hasn't stopped posting, throwing a few pictures of her late 1990s self in with the many of her as she is now. She's not shy about showing herself off (it obviously runs in the family!), with more than a few shots about as naughty as Instagram will allow. Niki is, it seems, feeling the joy of muscle once again.
I should thank the forum bods who have made this post possible - without them, my knowledge of the career and current situation of Niki Shaw would be non-existent, before I read their posts I didn't even know that Joanna Thomas had a sister!
And incidentally, their posts have got more than a few fans thinking about which British FBBs of the 1990s they would like to see return to competition. Claire Wheeler, Colleen Yates, Bev Hahn, and the young Joanne Lee have all been mentioned, along with Paula Bircumshaw, Pat King... And they're just the ladies I've managed to find pictures of. It's certainly made me realise how much shredded talent, not to mention sheer muscle mass, there was in Britain then, as now.
So, can't say that I've been a fan for long, but I'm very happy to have made Niki's (virtual) acquaintance now! FMS hopes to bring you news of Niki's return to the stage before long. And we've gone with the one "k" Niki rather than "Nikki", as her name is often spelt, as this is how she has it on her Instagram and how her long-time fan from the forums spells it too, and we reckon if anyone should know, they should.
More FBBUK tomorrow!