Thursday, 1 March 2018

FBBUK: Anna Banks (An Apology)

Though some people might substitute "often" for "always" in the second half of this sentence, we don't always get it right. Having banged on over the last year or so about how much Bodyfitness/Figure talent the UK possessed and how we fully expected that soon some of them would be placing high at international contests, perhaps even gaining pro cards, we somewhat overlooked the woman who would realise that potential most quickly and become the latest of Britain's IFBB Figure pros.

I say "overlooked"... we did mention her at the UKBFF British Championships, which she won. However, we'd got rather enamoured with Danielle Osborn (who had won her class at the Arnold Classic Europe) at that time, and really wanted her to win. When Danielle placed 3rd, we ended up being rather rude about the new British champ.

If any of the UKBFF Bodyfitness judges would like to get in touch and explain exactly why it is that the woman on the right beats the woman on the left, I will be all ears.

It's taken a feature in the Mail Online to remind us that we should have been a bit more polite, and taken much more notice of Anna Banks. In our defence, her rise to the very top of the Figure game has been blink-and-you-miss-it. From her Bodyfitness debut at the East of England Championships in Leicester on September 17th last year to her IFBB pro debut in San Marino in November - (I make it) about 70 days!
Bodyfitness debut win: East of England Championhips, September 2017

The 30-year-old from Liverpool joined former British Bikini star Melissa Haywood on the pro stage having earned her pro card at the San Marino Olympia Amateur the day before - the first time the UK had two Figure pros on stage together since Maria Scotland and Louise Rogers went heel-to-heel in Toronto in 2015. Coincidentally, Anna had, like Melissa, begun her competitive career in the Bikini division.
Agata Banks (Poland), Bikini @EBBF European Championships, May 2017

Back in May 2017 though, when Anna did her last Bikini turn at the European Championships in Spain, she still "represented the Motherland" as she puts it. The scorecard tells us that Agata Banks (of Poland) finished 11th in her up to 169cm class that day, already convinced Bikini wasn't for her - I just wanted to lift, she says.

Interestingly, perhaps because they didn't think it was relevant, perhaps because it doesn't fit their anti-immigration agenda, the Mail make no mention of Anna being from anywhere other than Liverpool in their story. What they do focus on though is why she first began lifting. I wouldn't say I was out of shape, she tells them. I just wasn't completely satisfied with how I looked, especially my mid-section. I was very body conscious and would always wear a one-piece swimsuit instead of a Bikini.

Inspired by fitness models in magazines she began her journey, as they say. I remember thinking "Wow! I wish I looked like that, and is that even possible?" she tells her 17,000+ Instagram followers. But don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Whatever your genetics, all you have to do is start. It's taken her around seven years, the last 18 months of which she's been competing - and now she's the inspiration.

And she certainly doesn't lack ambition. Of the three women who won their Olympia San Marino Bodyfitness classes, only Anna signed up for the pro show the next day. It was, after all, a qualifier for what she calls "the pinnacle". She placed 10th in a field that included women who had recently been at that pinnacle - (Las Vegas) Olympians Jessica Reyes Padilla and Adela Ondrejovicova. A very respectable result.
Pro debut: San Marino, November 2017

But resting on her laurels clearly isn't her style. I’m actually kind of a rookie again, she says of her new pro status. BUT "I’LL BE BACK", bigger and better [in 2018].

FMS is more than a little red-faced that it's taken so long to bring you the story of Anna's remarkable rise. We most certainly won't be "overlooking" her again.
Anna Banks, UKBFF British Champion, October 2017

Follow Anna on Instagram

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