2002 - The Eighth Annual Joe Weider's Masters Mr. Olympia Report by Mike Emery
Evening Show - Finals
The evening show was scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Saturday night, and began just 15 minutes late. Bodybuilder comedian Rob Wilkins - the Hollywood style MC did his usual polished job of MC'ing the show. He said just enough to put a spin on things, waiting for delays or sound-system breakdowns to hit the audience with his best material. He puts every other contest announcer I've heard to shame.
Among the female bodybuilders, I have to mention Betty Pariso, who parodied the stage antics of pro men like Mike Matarazzo and King Kamali; her routine was a scream, bringing down the house.
The masters men's show began at 10 p.m. Each competitor gave an individual posing routine meant to display his condition in the best possible light. Good legs were at a premium in this show; several men would have been a threat if their lower bodies had matched their torsos and arms.
Aivars Visockis (Latvia) was back for the third year in a row. He posed strongly, with dramatic music and sweeping arm movements. In the tougher lineup this year, he fell from 10th to 22nd.
Lee Apperson (US) came next. He had excellent cuts and posed well, showing nice lines (ratio of shoulders to waist). Apperson's tallness made him look lean next to shorter men. He needed better triceps. In his fourth try in this show, he took 14th.
Guido Conrad (Germany) followed. With imposing size, he posed dramatically in a forceful routine. The cross striations on his upper pecs were amazing, as were his arms. He had a V-shaped tattoo between his traps just below the back of his neck. In his second try in this show, he came in 12th -- too low, I thought.
Chris Duffy (US), competing for the first time since 1993, offered a conservative routine. He displayed excellent size, strong abs and legs, good lines, and made it to the top six. The large tattoos on his arms were mostly covered by body makeup.
Leon Brown (US), at age 55, goes back to the early '70s in national competition where he was a good friend of Arnold. He had good pecs and V- shaped back but little else. He came in last (at 26th), but gave it his best try.
David Hawk (US) shocked some people when he showed up in top condition after a ten-year layoff. He was huge everywhere except for hamstrings, and the crowd loved his old-fashioned routine, a throwback to an '80s NPC show. He had it and knew it, easily clinching the top six.
Vince Taylor (US) didn't do a Terminator pantomime this time. Rather, he gave the screaming audience the slow, sinuous routine he won the NPC Nationals with in '88. He had immense shoulders, arms, and traps, projecting confidence that he would win (his routine ended with finger gestures of "one" and "five" to indicate he expected his sixth consecutive win).
Flavio Baccianini (Italy), at a height of 4'11", looks like a full-sized man shrunk down by a ray gun. His stage presence is always charismatic. In the evening show he began with a slow routine, but it revved up with the same "I'm not your boy toy" strip routine he used in 2000. Taking second in '99 and '00, he fell to seventh this year.
Anders Graneheim (Sweden), new to this competition, was a revelation -- one of the best bodybuilders I've seen in some time. A dynamic poser, he displays impressive arms, abs and quads -- with razor-sharp cuts. The judges gave him tenth; I would have said higher.
Steve Davis (US) did this show in '97 and '99, and this year he looked like a very well-built granddad. With a V-back and a nice manner, he poses well and has a rather odd walk, perhaps because he has so much muscle at a short height. He tied for 20th.
Vlastimil Krivanek (Czech Republic) was another European competitor new to the American stage. He had a fantastic routine and excellent size, a terrific back lat spread, big legs and possibly the best abs onstage. The audience went for him but the judges did not, giving him 15th -- lower than I would have.
John Hnatyschak (US) was the first of two policemen who played that up in the stage routine round. At 5'6", he was huge looking and in great shape, making the most of what he brought to the show. He had stage presence and projected well. His arms were his best body part, and his lines were excellent. He was deservedly in the top six.
Joe Palumbo (US), a policeman on the NYPD Swat Team, was the newest pro onstage, having won the NPC Masters Nationals last year. He had solid cuts and an impressive torso, but could use more size. His routine was a bit long. He took ninth.
Pascal T'Hooft (France), new to American competition, got noticed in callouts (seven total). He had superb cuts, with excellent size, great lines, strong abs, arms, V-back, the works. He posed dramatically to "Cathar Rhythm" from Era's first album, nodding to the cheers he got from the audience. Ranked eighth, he shows tremendous promise in this show.
Jim Pedone (Australia) made up in his routine what he lacked in size. He pantomimed being hunted down by a helicopter, running around the stage to avoid it. He got 18th.
Sean Bullman (Ireland) was another man new to American competition. He had shoulders and abs, some style and pacing, and could have used better cuts. He kept winking at the audience during his routine. He took 19th.
Geir Borgan Paulsen (Norway) was a monster. New to this show, he had huge size, great quads, back, traps, abs, arms, lines -- did I miss anything? He projected his size well in the evening show, but little else; he looked better in the prejudging. With a better routine and legs comparable to his upper body, he could win this show. He was easily in the top three. In Scandinavia he is a legend.
Don Youngblood (US) came in with a second-place win last year, and he was "Back for Blood" (as the T-shirts of his entourage announced). Looking like a cross between a biker and a minotaur, he hit the stage with a jaw-dropping routine that had the audience shrieking nonstop. With the best back in the show, Youngblood did front and back lat spreads every chance he got, fisting the air at the end of his routine.
A long-time competitor in this show, Honore Cironte (Canary Islands) has an exotic look. Though his legs suffer, he has a nice back and upper pecs. His routine wasn't as smooth as it was a couple years ago, but he was posing to another competitor's music the sound engineer cued by mistake -- so it wasn't his fault. He placed 24th overall, and was the over-60 winner.
Juan Barreto-Leoesma (Spain) had nice lines, traps and V-back. He also had a bulging navel (possibly a hernia) that disfigures his abs. He gave it all he had, and ended up 23rd.
Stan Frydrych (Poland, now in US) towered over other competitors onstage (except Paulsen). He had outstanding arms, abs and shoulders, but needs better legs to balance his torso. His posing was so busy he's like a walking multimedia extravaganza, and the crowd ate it up. This was his fourth try in this show. He tied for 20th, and was thrilled to be the over-50 winner.
John Simmons (US), in his first try at this show, had nice symmetry and solid size in his lats, pecs, arms and abs. He projected himself well, with a balanced, compact build. With more size he'd be a threat. He took 11th, which I thought was generous.
I like Emeric Delczeg (Romania) better every time I see him. Competing in the last six Masters Mr. Olympias, he has a superlative self-display enhanced by etched abs and an excellent torso. He had the most integrated routine on view in the evening show, and his 17th place was too low for my taste.
Nicolae Giurgi (Hungary) made a long trip from Europe for nothing. Ranking sixth in this show in 2000, he returned with a huge back and arms, excellent abs and calves (one of the few who had them), thrilling posing, great cuts -- and got 16th! What a shame.
Charles Kemp (US, originally from Bahamas) looked better in the evening show than in prejudging, when he was still holding water. He was one of the bigger men in the show, with wide shoulders and chest, solid quads and arms, and a flashy routine the crowd got into. He had a great single bi, and ended with five crab shots (most musculars) in a row. He got 13th.
Behnam Samimy (Canada), new to this show, also started with a helicopter routine. He has a good look with nice abs and cuts, and can do the splits. His legs are not up to his torso. He got 25th.
To the amazement of many, Don Youngblood was finally announced as the first place winner. At least Vince Taylor was totally amazed!
The top six masters men were called back onto stage after the women received their awards, and the over-50 and over-60 men's awards were presented (Cironte kissed his check, prompting Wilkins to quip, "Besa el dinero"). The top six men did quarter turns for last comparisons, and in this lineup Hnatyschak looked small. He tied with Duffy for fifth place. Hawk took fourth, Paulsen third. When Taylor took second, the roof came off the Glass auditorium. Don Youngblood's win WAS an upset, and signaled a new era in competitive men's bodybuilding.