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2013 Arnold Amateur Championships:
Amateur Women's Report by Andrew Michalak
Courtesy The Arnold Sports Festival.
This year’s Arnold Sport Festival was a very special edition of this event as it was the 25th anniversary of something what begun in 1989 as Arnold Classic bodybuilding show, but later on expanded and changed the name, becoming a big mass sporting event including nearly 40 sport disciplines, successful in the sport as well as economic field. Let’s look what the most prominent bodybuilding officials have said during the opening ceremony:
“It’s a privilege to share with you the 25th anniversary celebration of Arnold Sport Festival – an event that has been making monumental contribution to the expansion of the universality of sport values and principles. All this following the great leaderships and inspiration of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger” – IFBB President Dr. Rafael Santonja has said. “Special thanks to the person who makes this possible, to Mr. Jim Lorimer, IFBB Patron and the person who is behind the success of this event, together with his son Bob Lorimer, the family and the whole team that confirm this great Arnold Sport Festival” – he added. And then Dr. Santonja passed a very important news – “Next coming week we are going to participate in the Central American Games of the Olympic Program in Costa Rica”, receiving applause from the audience!
At the beginning of his speech, Governor Schwarzenegger noticed that “We’ve been organizing shows here from 1976, so for 37 years”. Arnold, as a competitor, participated in this first show, accepting invitation sent to him by Mr. James Lorimer, and it was the beginning of their so fruitful cooperation.
 “We’ve started a fitness crusade and I think that our fitness crusade has paid off and is very successful. We started with 15 athletes the first year and now 20 thousand people participate in our Sport and Fitness Festival and it is the most important and the biggest fitness festival in the world” – Arnold continued, displaying his satisfaction and confidence.

 “And we have almost 200 thousand people coming through our convention centers. And we have over 700 companies displaying here and contributing approximately 43 million US Dollars to the local economy and this is what we are calling an extraordinary progress. And we are creating jobs, so thank you all for a great work you are doing”. It was a short, very precise and convincing summary of their 25 years of very successful activity (or 37 years of cooperation, as Arnold said at the beginning).

And Arnold didn’t mention about their next step: creating Arnold Classic sister-events on the other continents: Europe (Madrid) and South America (Rio). Asia will follow soon. Amateur competitors from South and Central America as well as from the Caribbean region will have the next opportunity to compete at Arnolds… 8 weeks later, in Brazil. So, only a short inter-competition training cycle and the second peak.

Arnold Amateur Championships seem to be unstoppable in its year-by-year progress. Many expected that having the next Arnolds in Europe and South America the number of athletes in Columbus would decrease. It didn’t happen! Of course, some small changes in the “geography” of participation can be expected, as less number of athletes from Middle East and South Asia came this year (they had their Amateur Mr. Olympia late in November) but one new category has made a great boom: men’s physique!

Who could expect this? After being accepted by the IFBB and introduced to the IFBB Calendar of Events from the beginning of this year, the number of athletes almost doubled! Nearly one hundred! Despite the fact that two men’s physique categories were put into the schedule (up to 173 cm and over 173 cm), organizers had to add one more category: up to 180 cm (and over). If they didn’t do it, they would have 66 athletes in over 173 cm class.

Altogether, 588 amateur athletes went through the stage, compared to 545 last year. The other most “crowded” categories were: women’s bikini fitness (178 athletes) and men’s bodybuilding (135 athletes, with masters and classics). The biggest number of international stars performed in women’s bodyfitness and men’s bodybuilding, so I will start with these categories.
Women’s bodyfitness (figure):
 Six body height categories (from A to F) gathered 127 athletes (with masters).

- Category A (up to 155 cm): was dominated by the new German star Angela Derzpaf, who added this title to her victory at the 2012 Arnold Europe and silver medal at 2012 Women’s Worlds.
- Category B (up to 159 cm): one of the most successful bodyfitness star of a new generation, former world junior overall champion and twice Women’s Worlds champion, Elina Gook of Russia, found no serious challengers, adding the next prestigious title to her long “list of achievements”.
- Category C (up to 163 cm): very close battle of three outstanding champions: 2012 Women’s Worlds runner-up and 2012 Arnold Europe winner Anna Szczotka of Poland; 2012 Arnold America runner-up Bruna Miyagui of Brazil and less known internationally but considered as one of the most gifted American bodyfitness stars Zory Garasimchuk of the USA. All in top body condition, all very attractive. Slight victory of Garasimchuk, ahead of Szczotka and Miyagui.
- Category D (up to 167 cm): nobody from the World’s top 10, so new athletes grasped the cups. The best among them was Maria Ramirez of Mexico (12th place at the 2010 Women’s Words).

- Category E (up to 170 cm): very tough battle for the top three places between: 2012 Australian champion Rinnah Schmid; Brazilian champion Renata Quaraciaba and Sara Heimis of Iceland. Finally, Schmid won 2 points ahead of Quaraciaba and Heimis, who were tied in points (13:13).
- Category F (over 170 cm): the second Russian and the second unanimous win with 5 points. But Yulia Ushakova is a well-known star, former world junior’s overall winner, European Women’s overall winner and World Women’s overall winner.

- Overall: No surprise that both Russian stars placed at the top in the overall but a little surprise that the overall title went to Gook, who won over Ushakova for the first time in her sport history.

Women’s bikini fitness:
 The most popular sport at this Arnold, with 178 competitors dispersed among 6 body height classes.
- Category A (up to 155 cm): new NPC national level competitor Caryn Paolini was dreaming about the IFBB Pro Card and got it! She won the short class ahead of Mexican Maria Constantino.

- Category B (up to 159 cm): 29 beautiful bodies on the stage and as many as 14 were not classified, finishing the competition in the elimination round. One of the fastest sport career by 2012 Spanish Nationals overall winner Marisa Lobato, who won easily, followed by new Italian champion Roberta Visintainer.
- Category C (up to 163 cm): 37 competitors in the line-up and unprecedented victory of the “Canadian school” as the top three places went to the Canadian girls: Martine Gauthier, Gabrielle Ahmed and Julie Royer.

- Category D (up to 167 cm): the longest category, with 49 athletes on the stage. Tremendous progress of the American girl Ashley Pfaff, who placed 6th at the 2012 NPC Nationals and now advanced to the top and earned IFBB Pro Card. 2nd place winner, Timea Varga of Hungary, placed ahead of the Australian champion Nina Silic.
- Category E (up to 170 cm): NPC competitor Noelle Joye has written on Facebook – “Join me on my quest for competing in the 2013 Bikini Olympia in my home city of Vegas!” and she has made a big step toward this target: she won her category at the Arnold Amateur. The 2nd place went the 2012 Women’s Worlds finalist Egle Eller-Nabi of Estonia.
- Category F (over 170 cm): Great success of a less-known competitor Anna Starodubtseva who was born and grew up in Krasnodar, Russia, but moved to New York in 2008 and is the NPC athlete now. She placed ahead of the American new star Amy Orzechowski and German athlete Kathrin Hollmann.
- Overall: clear victory of Anna Starodubtseva (Russia), with Marisa Lobato and Ashley Pfaff in the next positions.

Master women’s bodyfitness:
The next very popular division at the Arnold Amateur, with 46 competitors this time. As usual, three body height categories were run.
- Short class, up to 163 cm: the top trophy went to the US Army nurse Ann Claiborne, who spent 13 months in Iraq in 2003 with the 101st Airborne Division and started to train there, treating workouts as a stress reliever. She returned home in her best body condition and decided to enter her first contest. In an interview for she declared – “I want to stand on stage with the best of "the best" IFBB Figure competitors” and she had this opportunity in Columbus this year and used it successfully, placing ahead of the Spanish star Marta Del Amo and Mexican champion Damariz Salazar.
- Middle class, up to 168 cm: big success of the Canadian athletes as two of them finished in the top three. The title went to the Canadian Championships runner-up and Elite” spa owner Melanie Gardner, but only one point ahead of Brenda Lauver (USA). Third place to the next Canadian: Kim Gramlich.
- Tall class, over 168 cm: three US competitors at the top! The winner, Danielle Smith, declared in her interview – “My kids [she is a mother of 2[ and husband motivate me. I want to be a role model for them”. And she can be proud now. The next two were: Lauren Manning and Christina Splittgerber.

- Overall: the overall title went to Melanie Gardner (Canada) after close combat against Ann Claiborne (USA).

Women’s fitness:
Two classes and two world champions at the top.
- Short class, up to 163 cm: world champion Melinda Szabo grasped the second title in a row, winning both rounds (physique and routine). The next places went to: American black woman Chika Aluka and the next American Shannon Siemer.
- Tall class, over 163 cm: world champion Alevtyna Titarenko at the top but the last year winner Marta Aguiar of Uruguay dropped to the 3rd place after a very close battle against Marla Grant of Canada (each of them won one round).

Overall: overall title, where only the physique is assessed, went to Alevtyna Titarenko.
Women’s bodybuilding:

Two categories but still less and less competitors: in 2010 there were over 30 athletes, in 2011 – 15 and now 13. Too many women’s physique sports? Too many options?
- Up to 55 kg category: three-time European champion Branka Njegovec (Croatia) came in her top body condition and won all rounds. The next: 2010 Women’s Worlds finalist Anna Paula Da Silva (Brazil) and British Championships overall winner Rosanna Harte.
- Over 55 kg category: nobody from the 2012 winners, so new athletes took the stage. The title went to the Trinidad origin Kashma Siana Maharaj (US Virgin Islands) who is called “head-turner” and “jaw-dropper” over there. And the judges in Columbus had the similar impressions on her. Then the 2011 NPC Tournament of Champions winner Joan Liew (Singapore) and Nina Midling of Norway.
- Overall: Clear victory of Branka Njegovec (Croatia).
Women’s physique:

New division in the IFBB (introduced with this year) but not new in the NPC. Two body height categories were run: up to 163 cm and over 163 cm, with 30 competitors altogether.

Up to 163 cm category: unanimous victory of Brazilian competitor Danielle Da Silva, with 5 points score! Second place to the well-known Danish former bodybuilder and bodyfitness star Kristina Dybdahl.
Over 163 cm category: top three place to the American athletes. Mica Schneider won here in 2012, when physique category was run as a national NPC contest. Now repeated her victory after a close battle against Maria Rita Penteado, who placed 4th in bodybuilding heavyweight class last year.

Overall: Unanimous victory of Danielle Da Silva over Mica Schneider.

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