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Wayne’s Hard News: 2009 NABBA World Championships Report

2009 NABBA World Championships Hard News Report by Wayne Gallasch.

Having just returned from Slovakia, I am writing this report one week after the event while it is still very fresh in my mind. Historic Kosice, the second city of Slovakia in Eastern Europe, was host to the NABBA World Championships, staged at the internationally famous Steel Arena. For those of you who have little idea as to exactly where Slovakia is, it borders the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Ukraine and Hungary.
The host hotel was the brand new 5 star Hotel Yasmin. Everything was set up for a fantastic event and boy did the promoter deliver! Slovakia is a tiny country of around 5 million people. Somewhat similar in population size to Malta, another tiny country which staged a wonderful NABBA World Championships in 2007. One wonders when we may see this event staged in a large and affluent country such as USA! I hope it may be soon.

The Steel Arena is a stadium that is roughly similar in shape and size to the Mandalay Bay Hotel’s Arena in Las Vegas, where the Olympia was staged for a number of years. A huge lighting grid was set up, superb stage erected on the main floor, 3 giant TV screens and VIP seating for the VIPs who included the President of Slovakia. I had no idea he was there till much later, as it was not announced in English. In fact I was a little disappointed that no brief opening message was given in English by the Slovak joint MC, as she did speak good English. This would have been a bonus for all of the non Slovakian speaking competitors, fans and officials. This was my only small regret that language and good communication skills with all of the visiting countries was difficult. However let’s focus on the many positives.
The 2 big side of stage TV screens were fed with the bodybuilding action taken from the 3 arena cameras, and the rear of stage screen was used for sponsor’s messages and also for part of the incredible laser light show presentation. This amazing light and sound show traced the history of the NABBA Worlds since its beginning in Yugoslavia in 1984.

The various entertainment segments apart from the substantial laser show included a rock band to warm up the huge crowd of around 2800 people, a karate duo act which included flashing swords from Roman Volák - several times World Champion in karate and kung-fu, and a traditional Slovakian dancing group. The crowd got huge value for money at this contest. A bodybuilding contest should be all about entertainment as well as focussing on the actual physique competition. This is what the event delivered – total entertainment. In this subject of entertainment, a unique piece of common sense and good judgement took place at the evening show that I will share with you.
Marco Parisi is a very good physique from Italy who competes in Class 4. He is not yet a world beater, placing 4th, but he is a great showman and super star of posing presentation. At the show he gave a virtuoso posing display that ran for around 4 minutes. Not a second of it was boring or overly self indulgent or repetitive. This guy is a marvellous performer and guest poser and he let us have the works! This is where common sense came into play from the contest promoter and his team. No instruction had been given that all music had to be cut after say 60 or even 90 seconds, or what ever, which is the norm at top international events. Marco kept on posing to his carefully prepared sound track giving us his complete guest posing routine that had various styles and transitions to rival the best routines I have ever seen. Common sense prevailed, his music was not cut and his incredible routine concluded to thunderous applause and a standing ovation! I have never ever seen a competitor get a standing ovation during the posing round. It was thoroughly deserved and the complete routine will be seen in the men’s show DVD.

I felt it was slightly disappointing when the class results were announced – to see Marco place 4th, up one place from last year. I would have had him a little higher. It was said by some that allowing him to perform his long routine was unfair to other competitors, most of whom chose to pose only 60 to 90 seconds. It had no influence on his placement as all judging is completed at the Prejudging. The moral being – always be prepared with a longer routine that 60 seconds in case you are allowed to pose a little longer at the show finals, if you so desire. After all, only the top 6 in each class pose at NABBA evening shows, so you can see that this was not going to cause the show to run over time. Let’s see a little more of this common sense for show posing routines when it comes to people who really know how to pose and entertain. Those who prefer to only pose 60 seconds can still have that choice. I noted that a few competitors chose to pose less than 60 seconds, with most posing around 90 seconds.

There is one other competitor I will single out for special comment and that was Figure Class 1 winner, Katerina Kyptova of the Czech Republic. She had moved up from 5th last year in Greece to convincingly take this class with a truly awesome physique. I really mean the word “physique” as opposed to figure. I do not feel she would have looked out of place on the Ms. Olympia stage, such was the awesome development she displayed. Large, beautifully sculptured muscle bellies in all bodyparts, shredded and with great separation and a superbly presented posing routine. She took Figure to a whole new level and I would call her look “mini physique”, not that such a class exists, so she competed in Figure. However, when it came to the Overall Judging between Katerina and the Class 2 Figure winner, the decision rightly went to the smaller woman, Anzhelika Musalimova from Ukraine. She typified the tradition Overall Figure Class Champion’s look with a total package that did not include too much size along with great condition and excellent symmetry.

What do the judges do? This is a dilemma that needs to be resolved in the future whereby certain women need to be told which class they must compete in if they are truly borderline or simply too big and muscular  for Figure Class. There was one other competitor in Figure who in my opinion should also have been in the Women’s Physique Class.

Now to a few brief comments on those who stood out for various reasons. The classes were all keenly contested in a very tough and high standard competition. The men's classes 1 and 2 were the biggest and toughest classes in the contest with the Overall Mr. World winner emerging from Class 3. That was local hero Vladimir Flimel of Slovakia, a Ronny Rockel type of physique. In fact he looked like a younger, larger version of Rockel. I predict you will soon see Flimel competing as a Pro. I will cover Men’s classes first followed by the Women’s classes.

A great victory by NABBA veteran Aivars Visockis of Latvia beating last year’s 5th place finisher in Luiz Flavio Felicio of Brazil. Once again Brazil fielded an incredibly strong team – both men and women. Tony Rizzo of Australia placed 5th in this class.

In the other Masters Class for the Over 40s, it was a very popular and well deserved victory for Marilandio Ponchet from Brazil. He is a very experienced champion having won the Overall Mr. World title in 2007 when he was 40 year old, has won a NABBA Universe class title and now adds another major trophy to his collection. I felt his posing routine was the best of the competition, apart from Parisi’s posing, in that Ponchet is innovative and different and really hits each pose right on the beat of his music. Few can seem to do that properly. I have commented on his superb posing in other contests. Anyone wanting to learn how to pose should study this guy’s routine.

Outstanding 2008 NABBA Junior Mr. Universe winner, Jakub Subrt  from the Czech Republic, made it the double by convincingly winning this class with a very mature looking physique. Another past NABBA Junior champion has been Flex Lewis and look how his career is developing in USA. If Subrt lived in USA he would get mass publicity and probably also be on his way towards a pro career. However I do not feel this will happen. Bodybuilders who are not natural English speakers have huge hurdles to overcome in the world of bodybuilding, especially when they are still living in Europe.

I was also most impressed by 3rd placed Daniel Barry from England. He did look very mature, has great size and also has youth on his side, no pun intended. He told me he is still eligible to compete in this event next year as a Junior.  I told him that he has a huge future ahead of him with his wonderful genetics, great V-shape and size, and with some fine tuning, can win this title next year.

In Class 4 the winner was Leandro Rodrigo of Brazil from Jerry Koolhoven of Holland in second place. Leandro has what I would call a beautiful physique. He looked small in his clothes but boy did things light up when he hit the stage! Superb condition, nice size, great symmetry and wonderful posing and charisma. He had the complete package and in my opinion would have been second to Flimel in the overall posedown. I look forward to seeing him in Class 4 at the Universe in the near future.
Jerry Koolhoven also "has the goods" and has a fantastic physique. I feel the title could be his next year.

I have no idea where all these great Brazilian stars come from, as they keep appearing every major contest and usually in first or second position.

This class was won by the Slovak star Vladimir Flimel. You could say that his overall victory contained an element of luck in that he only won his class by the narrowest of margins – 1 point. In second place was the shredded and extremely impressive British bodybuilder Tom Young. Tom won his class at the NABBA Britain 2 weeks before, and looked sensational. The only area where I saw a slight advantage to Flimel was in the control of the midsection. Tom’s close friend from UK, Joe Walker was a very solid 4th place finisher with an excellent symmetrical physique with few faults.

The winner of this class, Gintaras Gorodnicenko of Lithuania, pulled off a stunning victory after making huge improvement over last year. In 2008 he placed 5th in his class and this time he finished at the top, just a couple of points clear of runner up Martin Holub from the Czech Republic. Jon Bridge from England was a very solid 3rd from the experienced Maltese champion Dominic Schieda 4th. The top 4 were very even and all showed great maturity. Worth mentioning was the huge potential displayed by Darren Borg from Malta who was unofficially 8th. In 2007 Darren was Junior World Champions and for this kid to place so well, now he is up against the big guys was very impressive.

Gorai Volodymyr from Ukraine narrowly won this class from Stanislav Struzberg from Israel. Volodymyr had show good solid improvement from when he was 3rd in this class at the Worlds 2 years ago. He had a little extra muscle density and definition such that he just made it to the Overall Posedown Round. Being tall he can still use more leg size and bigger arms. His condition was excellent.

In the judging for the Overall World title we had 3 European guys up against the lone Brazilian from South America. Flimel, although not that tall, appeared to be a HUGE guy with the most muscle density and best upper body. His size and symmetry were enough to get a very clear decision as the new Overall NABBA Mr. World for 2009.
A very popular decision and an emotional victory in front of his own countrymen. His father had died just 2 days before the contest. I have no doubt that in his victory speech in Slovak, he dedicated his victory to his late father. The event was covered by Slovakian TV and for them this was a dream climax to a wonderful event. He was a worthy and extremely happy winner.

This class once again produced an incredibly high standard with an amazing quality of female figure bodybuilding on display. The Eastern Block women were as usual a standout as the results below clearly show. The very impressive winner was Anzhelika Musalimova from Ukraine with Lilian Okubo from Brazil 2nd, Flora Conte from Italy in 3rd place, up from 5th in 2007, and the spectacular Lada Plihalova of the Czech Republic 4th. Australia’s figure champion Anna Hetzel placed 8th in her first international contest. She had legs equal to the best of them and has a great future ahead of her.
Musalimova was 3rd in the 2007 Worlds and Okubo was 5th in the same contest with both women showing great improvement over the last 2 years. The quality of physique, the preparation and attention to detail and the wonderful mid-section were the winning factors for Anzhelika.

As mentioned above, the amazing Czech Katerina Kyptova absolutely destroyed this class with size, condition and symmetry. She also retained her femininity which was not sacrificed to size. This is my opinion that she was a clear winner, with the judges seeing it as being extremely close between Katerina and the tall, elegant, muscular Hungarian star Brigita Grof. Both women had amazing posing routines with Grof probably displaying more innovation, flexibility and style in her routine, and Katerina winning out on pure size and density in a traditional bodybuilding sense. Grof appeared to have many elements of fitness and aerobics in her routine.  Not outclassed was the Italian star Sonia Chiarabini in 3rd place with the impressive Overall British Figure Champion Joanne Sperring in 5th place. 

In the judging for the Overall Figure Class title, Anzhelika Musalimova from Ukraine had the winning package of shape, class and style that the judges wanted to see as the model for Women’s Figure. She makes a worthy world champion.

The Women's Physique class was the only disappointment of the contest with just 2 competitors. This probably should have been 4 competitors. The 2008 winner Ilona Zarubica of Serbia retained her title over Martine Leys of Belgium. With so few competitors, this class needs some form of rejuvenation, discussion and review if it is to continue.

This was a fantastic World Championships staged by Arpad Mester and his Slovakian team. Special thanks also go to the NABBA UK team who worked so hard to make the contest run smoothly - at the registration, prejudging and on stage at the show. That team included Bryan Robinson, UK Chairman, who helped organise the registration, ran the prejudging and was joint MC at the show. Also included Tony Sullivan, who was Judges’ Chairman with help from Michael Sullivan and Hazel Robinson.
We have today started the editing of what will be 3 DVDs from the contest. If you are interested in the DVDs when ready, please email me at to pre-order, or check out our What’s New page regularly at Better still, subscribe to our weekly email newsletter which will have details of the DVDs as soon as they are ready. Now to the RESULTS and a few of my candid photos I took before and during the event. All photos copyright Wayne Gallasch, GMV Productions.
Photo Galleries from the contest will be in each of  the DVDs.

2009 NABBA World Championships – Results
June 13th, Kosice, Slovakia.


OVERALL NABBA MR. WORLD: Vladimir Flimel - Slovakia


1. Marilandio Ponchet – Brazil
2. Christian Klee – Austria
3. Terry Fisher – UK
4. Zdenek Branis – Czech Rep.
5. Ioannis Anagnoston – Greece
6. Ernst Barnet – Austria
7. Pierre Perrier – France
8. Michael Cederqvist - Sweden
9. Sergii Khimchenko – Ukraine


1. Aivars Visockis – Latvia
2. Luiz Flavio Felicio – Brazil
3. Alain Petriz – France
4. Jozef Sztankay – Slovakia
5. Tony Rizzo – Australia


1. Jakub Subrt – Czech Rep.
2. Igor Iles – Slovakia
3. Daniel Barry – UK
4. Aurimas Grabinskas – Lithuania
5. Peter Lunter – Slovakia
6. Levente Tarkanyi – Slovakia
7. Sebastian Jagiello – Czech Rep.


1. Leandro Rodrigo - Brazil
2. Jerry Koolhoven -  Holland
3. Fernando Luiz Sardinha - Brazil
4. Marco Parisi - Italy
5. Tommy Staunton - Ireland
6. Vojtech Koritensky - Czech Rep.
7. Tomas Mahrik - Slovakia


1. Vladimir Flimel - Slovakia
2. Tom Young - UK
3. Samoel Bezerra - Brazil
4. Joe Walker - UK
5. Roman Marsalek - Czech Rep.
6. Philippe Foussard - France
7. Jorg Fuchs - Germany
8. Jarmo Sohlman - Finland
Sergii Bezshchasnyi - Ukraine
Michal Pucek - Slovakia


1. Gintaras Gorodnicenko - Lithuania
2. Martin Holub - Czech Rep.
3. Jon Bridge - UK
4. Dominic Schieda - Malta
5. Edilson de Oliveira - Brazil
6. Milan Kresojevic - Serbia
7. Matthias Bonack - Germany
8. Darren Borg - Malta
Alex Yarmolenko - Ukraine
Igor Rashoiants - Ukraine
Bogdan Kravchenko - Ukraine
Michel Martins - France
Darko Radonjic - Croatia


1. Gorai Volodymyr - Ukraine
2. Stanislav Struzberg - Israel
3. Harry Thibaudier - Holland
4. Lubomir Krhut - Slovakia
5. Stuart Garrington - UK
6. Vlastimil Kalas - Czech Rep.
7. Francisco Camargo - Brazil
8. Sergio Gomes - Brazil
Michael Albert - Germany
Ernesto Papa - Italy
Simone Amichini - Italy
Tomas Toth - Slovakia
Anastasios Vassos - Greece


OVERALL NABBA FIGURE MISS WORLD: Anzhelika Musalimova - Ukraine


1. Anzhelika Musalimova - Ukraine
2. Lilian Okubo - Brazil
3. Flora Conte - Italy
4. Lada Plihalova - Czech Rep.
5. Jana Zouzelkova - Czech rep.
6. Gabriella Bankuti - Hungary
7. Manuella Monteiro - France
8. Anna Hetzel - Australia
Karolina Holubcova - Czech Rep.
Olga Novik - Ukraine
Ildiko Frank - Hungary
Silvana Imbrogno - UK


1. Katerina Kyptova - Czech Rep.
2. Brigitta Grof - Hungary
3. Sonia Chiarabini - Italy
4. Tais Oshita - Brazil
5. Joanne Sperring - UK
6. Natasa Maksimovic - Serbia
7. Emmanuelle Ogeda - France


1. Ilona Zarubica - Serbia
2. Martine Leys - Belgium

             Inside the Steel Arena during set-up                                      The very impressive Steel Arena in Kosice                 
                          The team from Brazil                                           Mrs Mester and team setting up the superb trophies
 Vladimir Flimel at Registration had the look of a winner!     The warmup act rehearsing before the evening show 

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