ARNOLD SPORTS FESTIVAL 2016
You can feel the energy in the crowd. A full house of athletes, spectators and judges. The larger than life Arnold Classic stage. So many months of work have been put into this weekend. The 2016 Arnold Classic. What better place to spend Status Fitness Magazine’s 10th anniversary than here in Columbus, Ohio, where we have been every year since our launching. We are back again to bring the show to you, our readers.
Editor Rodney Jang: “I have been coming to the Arnold Classic for the past 10 years. Each year was a great time, and this year was no exception. In fact this was a special year in many respects. Congratulations to Kai Greene. What a performance. The sold out crowd appreciated it with a standing ovation. And a very special thank you to Matt Lorz for all his support of Status Fitness.
The Arnold Classic is so much more than a bodybuilding show. It’s an event suited for every single person with any level of interest in fitness, health and nutrition. The Expo is packed with vendors of all ilks: supplement companies, fitness equipment, athletic organizations, clothing lines, food products… it truly has to be seen to be believed.
Cover Photographer David Ford: I am always excited to attend and photograph the Arnold Sports Festival for Status Fitness. Over the years I have seen many memorable battles on stage. This years’ event was especially exciting as Kai was pushing for the title and Oksana looked to continue her dominance of the fitness division. We were not disappointed and the energy of the full house was testiment to the excitement the sports bring to the industry. Great work to all those who helped organize this one of a kind event and especially to Matt Lorz for all his hard work.
We bring you this coverage from the 2016 Arnold Classic 2016 media pit, where journalists and photographers alike were abuzz with excitement and anticipation.
This Figure class was absolutely incredible. The shape, conditioning and presentation of every one of these ladies was top notch. It may sound cliché, but it couldn’t have been easy for IFBB Head Judge Sandy Williamson to pick a top lineup from this amazing group of athletes.
But Latorya Watts climbed from a 4th place finish in 2015 right to the top of the class, winning the prestigious Figure International for the first time. Watts is no stranger to the big stage, also winning the Figure Olympia in 2015. She was presented the champion’s trophy by the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger, a $16,000 cheque, and a Tony Nowak Official Champions jacket.
Latorya Watts – Miss Figure International 2016
Second place went to the always beautiful Camala Rodriguez-McClure of Morrison, Colorado. With her excellent stage presence and conditioning, it is no wonder that Camala has had ten IFBB Pro wins in both fitness and figure, combined. This placing earned Camala a $10,000 cheque and a beautiful trophy from MHP and Animal.
Florida’s Gennifer Strobo took home the 3rd place win along with $8000 and a trophy from BPI and BSN. Gennifer has had 3 big wins at the Toronto Pro Supershow and it’s no wonder with an outstanding glute/ham tie in and overall fantastic physique.
Colorado’s Candice Lewis-Carter was definitely a fan favorite, as she came from a 2nd place finish in 2015 with hopes to beat that placing. With a nearly impossibly small waist and insane leg development, Candice made a great impression and finished in fourth place, earning a $5000 cheque and trophy from 4 Dimension Nutrition and Aeon Clinical Laboratories.
In fifth place was Georgia native Cydney Gillon. This girl has incredible shape and definitely deserved this top 5 placing, which earned her both a $3000 cheque and a trophy sponsored by GAT and Powerhouse Gym.
Heather Dees of Highland, Utah, rounded out the class in sixth place position. Her physique and posing were bang on and I’m sure it was a tough top 6 to judge. Heather won $2000 and a trophy sponsored by supplement companies Rivalus and Nutrex.
Strength, flexibility, power, poise, and grace… combine that with spot-on conditioning, beautiful shape and feminine muscularity and you’ve got the makings of a Fitness athlete. This category is never a let down, with competitor routines getting more complex and entertaining as the years pass.
The flawless Oksana Grishina of Hollywood, California took home her third straight Fitness International win, with a Michael Jackson inspired routine that gave me goosebumps. She is truly a vision of perfection as she wows the crowd with incredible skill and presence. Oksana’s first place win earned her a $25,000 cheque along with the champion’s trophy, presented as always by the show’s namesake, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Grishina also received a coveted Tony Nowak Official Champions Jacket, and blew kisses to her fellow competitors as she was declared the winner
Oksana Grishina – Miss Fitness international 2016
Arizona’s Whitney Jones brought down the house with her high-powered routine that rocked from start to finish. Her amazing physique and conditioning combined with the energetic routine landed Whitney the second place finish, $13,000, and a trophy sponsored by Muscle & Fitness and MHP.
In third place was veteran Bethany Wagner, who has competed in over 30 IFBB Pro shows in her career. I was blown away with some of this girl’s moves. She mastered a straddle handstand on a skateboard, making it look absolutely seamless, and showed her intense power and strength when she executed a flawless back handspring from a sitting position. Wagner’s excellence earned her $8000 and a trophy sponsored by Gasp, Better Bodies and The Columbus Dispatch.
Canada’s sweetheart Myriam Capes finished fourth in this stellar lineup, receiving $5000 and a trophy sponsored by Blackstone Labs and Jan Tana. This girl was a powerhouse from start to finish, and her elegance and grace in posing was phenomenal. Capes always brings exciting and entertaining routines to the Pro stage, and this was no exception.
The fifth place trophy, sponsored by Muscle Egg and Ultimate Nutrition, went to Germany’s Regiane Da Silva, along with a cheque for $3000. I was floored at the talent that this athlete brought to the stage. She nailed a front layout into a pike hold like it was a walk in the park. Her experience in more than 30 shows is very evident as she amazed from beginning to end.
Wrapping up the top six Fitness International athletes was the ever-popular Tanji Johnson of Renton, Washington. Tanji has competed in more than 53 Pro shows and shows no signs of slowing down. She performed her high energy routine to a mashup of awesome throwback tunes, and her energy never once faded. Johnson took home $2000 and a trophy sponsored by Nutrex and Optimum Nutrition.
WOMEN’S PHYSIQUE INTERNATIONAL
Up next was the popular Women’s Physique division. With the exclusion of Women’s Bodybuilding at this year’s show, this newer category brought the chiseled, muscular feminine physiques that many paid to see.
Illinois resident and physiotherapist Autumn Swansen went home with the title of Miss Physique International, taking home a Champion trophy from Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Tony Nowak Official Champions jacket and a $5000 cheque. With her exceptional physique and fitness-inspired routine, Autumn definitely stood out as a top contender.
Autumn Swansen – Miss Physique International 2016
In 2nd place, taking home $2000 and a trophy sponsored by MHP and Powerhouse Gym was Florida’s Danielle Reardon. What an absolutely beauty to watch. Her posing, routine and overall presence made her a shoo-in to this top lineup.
Mindi O’Brien of Canada was as stunning as ever with her complex and captivating routine. She was picture perfect, winning the 3rd place finish, $1500, and a trophy from Animal and GAT.
Suit designer and popular competitor Tamee Marie’s sensual routine, fluid posing and stellar physique earned her the 4th place spot in this competitive lineup. The Nebraska native went home with a $1000 cheque and a trophy sponsored by BPI and Rivalus.
Jacklyn Abrams of Queen Creek, Arizona hit the stage with a bang, nailing a perfect tumbling pass right out of the gate. This girl’s energy is absolutely contagious and it’s easy to see how she cracked the top six. Her fifth place finish brought her a $1000 cheque and a trophy sponsored by BSN and Aeon Clinical Laboratories.
Completing the finalist lineup was North Carolina’s Gillian Ward, whose physique and routine combined earned her $500 and a trophy sponsored by The Columbus Dispatch and Muscle Egg.
ARNOLD CLASSIC 212
Everybody likes to see the big beasts in Open bodybuilding, but this class brings the most conditioned, pleasing physiques from around the world to go toe to toe for the title.
Fan favorite Hidetada Yamagishi of Japan – arguably one of the most popular athletes in the IFBB – beat out 205 champion Jose Raymond to win the 2016 Arnold Classic 2016. Hide’s outstanding physique and conditioning (not to mention larger than life delts) and crowd-pleasing performance put Hide in the top spot, for his first ever Arnold Classic 212 win. Yamagishi’s humility and gratefulness were center stage as bodybuilding pioneer Arnold Schwarzenegger presented him with the Champion’s trophy, $22,000 cheque and exclusive Tony Nowak Official Champions jacket. When presented with his awards, Hide said, “I knew I was going to win. But when my dream came true, it was a shock.” Schwarzenegger asked him what it took to win this show. “Two hours of training, two hours of cardio and bang on nutrition every day. And posing is so important. I spend 1-2 hours a day posing.”
Hidetada Yamagishi – Arnold Classic 212 Winner
Coming in a close second was 2015 winner Jose Raymond of Massachusetts. This bodybuilding veteran knows how to show off his best features with his precision in posing. If contests were won from the back, Raymond would have had a pretty good shot at the top spot here in Columbus. Jose walked away with $10,000 and a medal from Ultimate Nutrition and EAS.
The third place medal from Digital Muscle and MHP, along with $6000, went to the one and only David Henry, also from Massachusetts. I’ve never seen this guy at anything less than diced on stage, and tonight was no exception.
New Jersey’s Guy Cisternino hit the Arnold stage for his first time, coming in shredded and ready to go. His posing routine, set to ‘Hallelujah’, was fluid and captivating from start to finish. If his lower body were just dialled in to the level of conditioning of his upper body, it would have been a sure battle for the win. Finishing in 4th place, Cisternino earned $4000 and a medal from Optimum Nutrition and Jan Tana.
The tallest athlete in this class, Kyung Won Kang of New Jersey brought absolutely amazing shape to this year’s stage. His huge quad sweep stood out from miles away. Coming off some big European wins, Kang fit right into the 5th place spot, receiving $2000 and a medal from Gasp, Better Bodies and Blackstone Labs.
The final spot in this top lineup went to Greenville’s Charles Dixon. This South Carolinian brought thick and striated glutes to the stage. At 5’3” and 200 pounds, Dixon could have come in a bit drier in the race for the championship. His sixth place finish brought him $1000 and a medal from Muscle and Fitness and 4 Dimension Nutrition.
MEN’S PHYSIQUE INTERNATIONAL
This class has grown exponentially since its inception just a few short years ago. This year’s lineup included 38 athletes from the USA, Canada, Finland and Iceland and was a hard-fought battle that must have been very difficult for IFBB Head Judge Steve Weinberger to call.
The 2016 Men’s Physique International title went to Illinois native Brandon Hendrickson. Hendrickson took top spot with a perfect score, and beating out a collection of incredible athletes. This would certainly be a highlight in Brandon’s 3 year IFBB career, as he was congratulated by icon Arnold Schwarzenegger, presented a Tony Nowak Champions jacket, and was given the Championship trophy, sponsored by Europa Sports products and EAS.
The clear second place winner was hometown (Columbus) favorite George Brown who dazzled the crowd from start to finish. Brown earned a $2000 paycheque and a trophy sponsored by Jan Tana and MHP. Brown’s posing and contagious smile kept all eyes on him as he battled for the title.
Popular Jason Poston of Dallas, Texas stood in the center of the lineup beside Brandon Hendrickson before he was moved into the third place spot where he finished. Poston was presented with his trophy from Blackstone Labs and Muscle and Fitness, along with a cheque for $1500.
Fourth place went to Ryan Terry, who made the trip all the way from England; and I’m sure he’s glad he did. Earning a $1500 cheque and 4th place trophy from Lone Star and Optimum Nutrition, Terry edged out the fifth place finisher by only two points.
Taking home the impressive sixth place trophy from VPX and Black Skull, along with $500, was Raymont Edmonds, whose streamlined physique earned him a top spot among the nearly forty top-notch competitors.
India Paulino – Miss Bikini International and Brandon Hendrickson, Men’s Physique Winner
Since 2011, IFBB Pro Bikini athletes have been wowing audiences at the Arnold Classic Bikini International contest. This year was no exception, as fourteen of the world’s most fit and beautiful women graced the stage in a hard-fought battle for the coveted title of Miss Bikini International 2016.
As only the second person to have done so, Florida’s India Paulino won the Bikini International for a second time. She first took the title in 2013. The only other IFBB Bikini competitor to have done so is Ashley Kaltwasser (2014, 2015). As always, India strutted herself across the stage with an elegance and confidence that was, in the end, unbeatable. Winning $7000 and the Championship trophy from Europa Sports Products and EAS, India was once again congratulated by Arnold himself.
Canada’s top IFBB Pro bikini athlete, Justine Munro, brought home the 2nd place trophy, courtesy of MHP and Animal. Munro impressed the judges with her girl-next-door charm and captivating physique, as she stunned the crowd with her contagious smile.
In third place was Janet Layug, another Florida girl, who brought incredible beauty and grace to the stage. Just two points away from the second place finisher, Layug earned $2000, and a trophy from BPI and BSN
Angelica Teixeira from New Jersey claimed the fourth place spot, taking home $1000, and a trophy from Digital Muscle and Ultimate Nutrition.
Florida delivered four of the top six finishers in this competitive Bikini class. Fifth place went to Courtney King, who will be a strong contender in years to come. Courtney won $1000 and a trophy from Ricart Automotive and Quest Nutrition.
ARNOLD CLASSIC INTERNATIONAL
Last but not least was the return of the Big Boys. Twelve of the world’s best bodybuilders took to the stage in a battle of epic proportions. And every single one of them belonged there. In this, the marquee event of the 2016 Arnold Sports Festival, the Predator Kai Greene joined Dexter Jackson (5x), Flex Wheeler (4x) and Jay Cutler (3x) as the only men with more than two Arnold Classic wins.
In his third Arnold Classic win, Kai Greene blew the crowd away. To see such size, shape, and conditioning in a physique that moved with such grace and fluidity was definitely a sight to behold. I have seen Kai Greene posing on several different occasions, but this was by far the best I’ve seen him.
Not only did Greene show his outstanding physical abilities, but he showed amazing sportsmanship and camaraderie as he gathered with his co-competitors for an Arnold Classic ‘selfie’. The top six athletes appeased fans and media when they came down from the stage to pose for photos and shake hands. Brooklyn’s champion, Kai Greene, led the way, sharing laughs with spectators, VIPs and judges alike.
For his win, Greene received a cheque for $130,000, a Tony Nowak Official Champions Jacket, and a champion’s trophy from Europa Sports Products and EAS.
Arnold Classic winner Kai Greene
Cedric McMillan of South Carolina battled – right until the end – to take the second place spot. In comparison to Greene, McMillan certainly had a height disadvantage, but his incredible back detail kept him in the running. Kai’s glute development and conditioning were tough to beat, though, and Cedric took home $75,000 and a medal from Ultimate Nutrition and MHP.
The third place prize, $50,000 from Muscle and Fitness and Jan Tana, went to Australia’s Josh Lenartowicz, who erupted into the professional bodybuilding scene in late 2015, where he won back-to-back pro shows.
Justin Compton walked away with the 4th place spot and $30,000 from Optimum Nutrition and Body Fortress. Compton finished third in the 2015 Arnold Classic, but he just lacked the size necessary to edge out the top 3 this year.
Veteran bodybuilder Branch Warren took to the stage with his gigantic, cross-striated quads, and brought home a 5th place finish. This Texas native won the 2011 and 2012 Arnold Classic, and this year earned $15,000 from Blackstone Labs and Rule One Proteins.
Capping off the top six Arnold Classic International competitors was New York’s Juan ‘Diesel’ Morel. This is an outstanding placing at Morel’s Arnold Classic debut, made sweeter with his $10,000 cheque from Lone Star Distribution and Quest Nutrition.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – DR. RAFAEL SANTONJA
Icon Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lifetime Achievement award recipient Dr. Rafael Santonja
The IFBB is the second biggest sports federation in the world. IFBB President Dr. Rafael Santonja was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award, as an individual who as made notable contributions to the fitness industry, as well as offering a lifetime of service to the enhancement of sports performance and promotion.
Santonja was elected in 2006, to replace legendary Ben Weider, and was then re-elected in 2010 and 2014. Prior to taking the Presidency, Santonja was Ben Weider’s personal assistant, as well as the president of the European Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation.
Dr. Santonja’s acceptance was both thankful and humble; his words of wisdom reached thousands as he spoke of his journey with the IFBB. He most certainly made this sport feel like a culture of its own when he said, “We are the Iron Family.” Congratulations, Dr. Santonja.
Status Fitness was honored to be a part of the media team at the 2016 ASF. The weekend was jam-packed with events, displays and information that left no stone unturned. As the sport of bodybuilding grows and becomes more mainstream, the caliber of athletes continues to climb, setting the bar high for those making their way up to the ranks of IFBB Pro. We are excited to see what happens next year!
Photos courtesy of Dave Emery, Arnold Sports Festival