Friday, 22 September 2017

FMS@RP2017: ¡Viva Virginia!

A 4th place in Tampa hadn't initially been enough to qualify Spain's most muscular for the Rising Phoenix, but after the shenanigans detailed in our Wings of Strength Goes Wild post, Virginia's name had been added to the list. A most popular addition too.

I truly love Virginia, her physique is amazing, wrote one of her devotees during the Rising Phoenix build-up, a sentiment shared by many. I've talked with her on webcam and she is a very nice lady, he added. A couple times she invited me to Spain, but I don't think my wife would like that. Indeed. OK with the webcam chats though?

Others noted how spectacular Virginia can look before a contest but not so spectacular when stage time arrives, a point we've made here before. Her physique always looks unreal and almost unbeatable, says one. Every time I see an image of her, she looks closer and closer to being one of the most dominant competitors on the scene until... she's on stage and is dwarfed by some of the other girls and I realize she actually isn't as big as she looks. Still, her arms are massive and her back is phenomenal.

Maybe she's got better at hiding her flaws and getting the judges to focus on that phenomenal back and those dreamy arms because she still looked ridiculously big and unbeatable before, but less so next to the competition in Scottsdale. However, that 4th in Tampa and a very popular 5th here (plus the 3rd place award for her pre-routine video presentation) makes for easily her most successful professional year to date. Result: she's sponsored for 2018, and pre-qualified for the next Rising Phoenix.

Un año triunfal, as they say in Madrid. I'm so happy, she wrote after the show, one of the few-and-far-between occasions she has posted on her Instagram in English.

After the show some photo shoots, and then it was back home. About to scare the living mierda out of the person who's waiting patiently for that lift to arrive...


Thursday, 21 September 2017

FMS@RP2017: IFBB Arizona Pro

Lest we forget amid all our excitement over the Rising Phoenix, the IFBB Arizona Pro is a uniquely all-division all-female show, and the women who came out to compete in Bikini, Fitness, Figure and Physique (all well-aware they were playing second fiddle to the FBBs, and some of whom would be going on to compete at the Olympia the following weekend) deserve credit for choosing to do so at this particular show.

Despite doing what looks suspiciously like a bicep flex, Jennifer Ronzitti took home the big Bikini sword, while in Fitness Ryall Graber (sadly no routine pics I can find) added this title to the one she took in Chicago earlier in the season. Both are now already pre-qualified for the 2018 Olympia. Winning this competition was a great honor for me, gushed our Fitness champ afterwards. A dynamite weekend!


As always, the Figure class contained plenty of muscular treats, Slovak beauties Adela Onrejovicova and Lucia Kosecka among them. Adela (top left), a two-time Olympian now, finished 4th, while Lucia (top right), 7th on her pro debut after winning the IFBB Worlds this year, did plenty of not-so-surreptitious tricep flexing. Nice.

After winning her class at the Jr. Nationals last year, glamorous "Muscle Goddess" (she says, and she's right) Devoné Martin (bottom left) has been busy collecting top 3 finishes in her first pro season, although she could only manage 12th here. In contrast, Beckie Boddie (appropriate name or what?!) has been a pro since 2013, but her 6th here was one of her best ever placings. Swell digs the definition all over that Boddie.


Once again, the Arizona Pro attracted one of the Figure phenoms FMS has dubbed "The Freaky 3". Last year Candice Lewis-Carter took home the title, this year it was the turn of the gorgeous Cydney Gillon. It was beautiful to be a part of my first ALL WOMAN pro show! she said afterwards. So much camaraderie, muscle, and grace!

Big week for Cydney, it turns out. Turning 25, winning her fifth pro title here and... well, let's just say that the following week things got even better and wait for our Olympia review next week to fill in all the details of just how much better.


Just as the Rising Phoenix was a battle between two women, so the Arizona Pro Physique title was hotly contested by two of the divisions top bodies in 2017.

In her first Physique year after a few in Figure which included two Olympias, Jennifer Taylor already had wins in San Antonio and Tampa to her name. She was, however, conscious that Arizona would be her biggest challenge yet. I knew this show was going to be exciting because the competition was getting tighter heading into the Olympia, she said. I was ecstatic to be in the mix with these incredible ladies.

Ultimately, Jennifer had to settle for 2nd, with the (as we noted recently on FMS) hulkier-than-you-think Heather Grace taking her second pro title of the year. Heather never does less than all she can to make sure the judges get an eyeful of her devastating rear, and it was no different here, the first pose of her presentation presenting her gluteal assets in some style. Like Cydney, our Figure winner, Heather was at pains to praise this unique event afterwards. The Rising Phoenix Show is special in that it showcases the Female Bodybuilding World Championship and celebrates the female divisions of the sport, she said. The energy is incredible from the sheer number of dynamic women, and there is never a shortage of iconic athletes to inspire and provide a dose of historical perspective. Her personal favourite "iconic athllete"? With that back and that bum who do you think? It's Lenda Murray, of course!

Elsewhere in a packed (and jacked) Physique field of 21 women, FMS swooned to the how-have-I-never-heard-of-her-before charms of Karin Hobbs (3rd) - it's beause she's not competed in nearly three years, at least that's my excuse anyway - and the thoroughbred frame of Candrea Judd-Adams, who placed 4th. One of the most notable things about the Physique class here was the copious beautiful bicep peaks on offer, and of those, the ones belonging to the evergreen Jodi Miller and the hot and hard Olga Belyakova were probably the peakiest, most swoonworthy of all.

Heather and Jennifer took the top two places in the Masters Physique class as well. And there was a Masters Bikini class (won by Iveth Carreon, 8th in the Open class) and a Masters Figure class (the very tight Karen Noorlun, 10th in the Open) too.

Excluding the Rising Phoenix itself, that makes a grand total of seven different all-female classes, with, by my reckoning, eighty-five more or less muscular female physiques for the audience to get excited about. And that makes for quite a show.

Back to the main event tomorrow!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

FMS@RP2017: Evergreen

Age cannot wither her...
Yaxeni, Ms International (left) and Ms Olympia 2005

She made her Olympia debut in 1998. It beggars belief that she finished tenth then, and the following year. By the end of 2003 though, she had two consecutive Ms International and two other pro titles to her name, but that, and two more pro wins in 2004, was just the prelude to the remarkable 2005 she had - Ms International for a third time and her one and only Olympia triumph, the last non-American to hold the title. She added two more Ms International wins to her CV before that, and subsequently the Olympia disappeared. She could have retired any number of times and it would have felt like she was bowing out at the top of her game, but no, she kept going. Iris sneered at the new Wings of Strength-led regime in 2015, but Yaxeni turned up at the inaugural Rising Phoenix despite having been beset with injury problems, and claimed 4th place. Then, last year, as she turned 50, she competed more often than she had done any time since 2010 - two shows (and a win at the Lenda Murray/Norfolk Pro) before taking up her pre-qualified place at the Rising Phoenix, placing 5th.
Norfolk Pro 2016

Would she call it a day now? 50 years old and nothing left to prove, guaranteed to be remembered as one of the very greatest competitive Female Bodybuilders ever. No, she probably hadn't even thought about retirement. Yaxeni was back on stage again, more than a quarter of a century since she first put on a posing suit and flexed her (probably slightly less mighty than now) muscles. And, for the first time since the 2012 Olympia, she was flexing those muscles to a place in the top 3. What a legend!

And once again she was in her trusty black posing suit. I still don't know how it has withstood being stretched to its limit by all that beautiful beef, year after year!

It's the vibe, she says of the show, the energy! We all want to be there. On the live feed she came out and for me was as exciting to watch as ever. Seriously big, seriously ripped, and seriously sexy at the age of 51, and still a serious contender for the title. She'll be 52 this time next year. I doubt I'll be writing about how much I missed her at the 2018 Rising Phoenix. More likely I'll be writing about how she made the first callout once again. And how her black posing suit continues to defy the odds.

¡Viva Yaxeni!