This year we were presented with a unique opportunity in the form of the ACA2016. A few lucky… no not lucky… a few hard working and deserving athletes would have had the opportunity to apply for Pro card status had they won their overall lineups at the amateur show.
I truly felt the level of the amateur show of the highest I have ever seen in SA. This means that the selection process was really spot on. As athletes you guys and girls really brought you’re A-game and I believe that very few just came to learn. The stakes were at the highest they could possibly be.
Though I saw the triumph of two great friends. It was in the loss of other top athletes that I truly understood the gravity of having the Arnolds in SA. After the Saturday amateur show while walking out the convention centre with Earl, Michael Adonis in the true spirit of sport came up to greet and congratulate his fellow Western Cape teammate. He came up to Earl embraced him and when trying to say well done he was overwhelmed by what I am assuming is the heartbreak of not taking that overall lineup (Michael, if I am incorrect please feel free to let me know and I will gladly issue an apology). Anyways in that moment I saw one of the most beautiful moments in Bodybuilding in SA that I have ever seen. Two men who on stage are absolute rivals, but also true sportsman and gentlemen of the iron game.
Arnolds taught us what international judging was all about and what it meant to compete at the highest levels of the sport. In the end I think the Millenium Gold Plate was the ultimate preparation for those who made it through to the Arnolds. The pace of judging and the elimination rounds were swift and ruthless. Before you knew it you were through your quarter turns and off stage, holding all our appendages praying you were through to the next round. The judges did not wait for bodybuilders to get into their poses. If you missed it you missed it. Pavel the head judge didn’t take any nonsense regarding incorrect posing. Speaking of posing, I have resolved to do some self-help posing material which I will be releasing the subsequent weeks. I felt that the athletes from other countries truly out posed almost every local athlete with the exception of some of the more experienced locals. So keep an eye out for these.
Anyways let’s get to business and check out the results of the two days of amateur competition. Here goes ACA2016 Layman’s Opinions:
Click the link to navigate to the line-up you are interested in:
Junior Bikini Fitness
Junior Classic Bodybuilding
Junior Men’s Physique
Master Bikini over 35
Masters Men’s Physique
Men’s Physique up to 170cm
Men’s Physique up to 174cm
Men’s Physique up to 178cm
Men’s Physique over 178cm
Men’s Physique Overall
Classic Bodybuilding up to 175cm
Classic Bodybuilding up to 180cm
Classic Bodybuilding over 180cm
Classic Bodybuilding Overall
Junior Bikini Fitness
1st Chanel Erwee – 8
Chanel represented the criteria closest in this line-up. Her long flowing lines coupled with the right level of conditioning I felt appealed to the judges here and gave her the win. I have been watching these line-ups for a while now and I get a lot of people asking me explain why some girls win and others don’t. I noted that her structure most likely played a large role in her winning this line-up. I will explain my theories in the posing videos I do later to elaborate.
2nd Amore Coetzee – 16
While Amore looked lovely on the day. The judges went for a softer look in Chanel. As a matter of personal preference I like Amore’s type of physique but as per the criteria she could have a been a bit lean for the category. This is a fine line though and in the end I do think that Chanel’s Structural advantages really did help her here.
3rd Thelma Paulo – 20/16
You could immediately tell the differences between international competitors and the local and Thelma was no exception. She was by far the shortest in the category with what I felt were good proportions BUT perhaps a little heavy on the lower body side. The international athletes do seem to focus a lot on the booty region but in this case I felt it took away from her overall balance.
1st Elbey Chemseddine – 17
Elbey was simply dominant form the moment he walked on stage. I didn’t have to look anywhere else for the winner. I was simply trying to place second and third. It was amazing to see the combination or mass, balance and conditioning in such a young athlete. But at this level it should be expected.
2nd Larnelle Fredericks – 35
Larnelle was a bit of a revelation for me on the day. Why haven’t I seen this young man before??? Seems the Eastern Cape is a hiding a future gem in this young man. His conditioning was on point with great width in his back as well as detail. I felt though that balance wise compared to Elbey he has some assessing of his physique to do and filling in here and there to compete against more complete physiques like Elbey.
3rd Lendo Greyling – 38
Having seen Lendo before. I can say that he is Mr consistent for me. He churns out the same condition each time I have seen him. BUT in this line-up he had to go a bit further to achieve a higher placing. While Lendo has great condition I feel like when I look at him compare to the top 2 nothing truly stood out. That coupled with what seemed to be a struggle to open up the lats, when compared to Larnelle’s width I would have chosen Larnelle’s aesthetic Monday to Sunday. I think a bit more thoughtful planning in his physique is needed to cross into the next level.
1st Devin Stewart – 20
As with Lendo in Junior bodybuilding Devin puts out great performances condition wise but I feel he also needs to do something special to stand out more in a more competitive lineup. His posing is something I really feel needs work especially choreography on his routine. Yes the routines were cut down but by the time a bodybuilder is in the final week he should be so polished that it shouldn’t matter as to how long the music is. I would also like to see a bit more width on him.
2nd Brian Marias – 28
Brian has a well-balanced physique. He was better than what I had seen him at millennium condition wise but not as crisp as Devin. I have been watching him for a little over a year now in different competitions and one glaring issue for me is his ability to open up his lats. Classic bodybuilding asks of u a classically styled physique and being able to open up the scapulae to flare is most certainly a must in presentation.
3rd Swelihle Zondi – 42
Swelihle was my natural 3rd place between the top 2. He has some mass to put on but the basis of his platform is there. Perhaps a bit more time competing and improving his physique.
1st Qusai Abdel El – 8
Ok guys and girls. This kid is nigh on perfection for Men’s Physique. If you guys were confused as to what the criteria are then take a look at this kid. I am speaking to all ages and heights when I say this. When he stepped on stage as with Elbey all I needed to do was to place 2nd and 3rd. His dominance was evident in his placing for the rest of the day. He also took 1st in the senior category and the overall. He is at a pro level for me already. I actually have to thank him and his coach because once and for all I understand exactly what the criteria are looking for. He is the perfect representation. I will get into this in the posing releases I will be doing. I have some thoughts on how guys are being prepped for the category which is impacting placing at this level.
2nd Clive Brent – 11
While Clive’s points placing shows him as close to Qusai the 2 points for me was more an indication of the separating factors between the athetes
3rd John Murray – 12
I felt that John actually has a really great physique but he showed too much condition on the day which most likely got him the third place. His posing should have been softer due to how tight he was. I know that sounds counter intuitive but when you look at the criteria and with him showing too much striation across his chest especially while posing I felt this cost him. Less is more guys.
1st Elsa Pena – 5
You could tell that Elsa was an experienced competitor from the moment she stepped on stage. Once again posing told me she was not a local athlete. Well-presented and well-finished she was an obvious choice in the category.
2nd Angela Howden – 14
For me Angela actually comes the closest with her posing to the international standard. I think she has gained this from competing overseas but also a natural ability to pose. This is the best I have seen Angela in the time I have been watching her. She was tighter and her legs presented much better than in the past. One thing I love the most about Angela is her stage presence. When she walks on I am always immediately overcome by a smile that bursts on to my face as I make notes. She has a subtle swagger but booming confidence which I have grown to love watching on stage.
Kick ass Angie! Keep inspiring!
3rd Karien van der Wal – 17
Where Angela is outgoing Karien stage presence has a shyness about it which I also love. It just goes to show u can play it both ways. Physique wise I feel should could benefit from tightening up a bit.
1st Luis Cunha – 7
Luis presented well on stage. A bit more of international look here and the right level of conditioning coupled with what seemed like this was not his first rodeo gave him the win.
2nd Michael Atkinson – 13
One would never believe that this was Mike’s 2nd show. When I saw him in the King Shaka Classic line-up I knew he would have a strong showing at the Arnolds with at the very least a top 6 placing. So, 2nd most definitely met my prediction. Now that he has competed one wonders if the bug has fully bit.
3rd Olaf Birkner – 16
Olaf looked excellent on the day. Great presentation, great tan, great stage presence. But once again posing a bit hard might have cost him a few points and perhaps a chance at 2nd place. He has great conditioning and looked amazing on the day though.
1st Qusai Abdel El – 11
I don’t think I need to say more than I have already said about this young man. Even in the senior line-up he was as just as strong and dominant as in the junior line-up.
2nd Mohammed Albanna – 11
3rd Mohammad Alhabbabi – 15
1st Law Shala – 9
Law presented a pretty tight package on stage as well as a great stage presence. He seems to be rather popular and accomplished in his home country of Sweden as well as a regular on the competition circuit. Not his first win by all accounts.
2nd Hassan Sayed Golal – 10
3rd Mansoor Shebib Khansaheb – 18
1st Saud Alshatti – 9 and 2nd Abdullah Alsaraf – 11
Both these competitors had a similar look and for me was a bit difficult to choose between the 2. In the end the 2 point difference was indicative of the choice that needed to be made.
3rd Tiaan Barnard – 15
Tiaan’s presentation was great but in a very strong line-up I feel as though he needed something extra to stand against the top 2 in this line-up. I feel that his tan let him down a bit. On a day where darker tans picked up the lights his light tan felt a bit washed out. A few posing tweaks here and there could also benefit him especially in the side on poses I felt he suffered against the stronger posers in the line-up.
1st Sanad Al-Sanad – 5 and 2nd Faisal Al-Bahar – 15
Once again the Kuwaity’s seemed to dominate this line-up. It seems to me that Men’s Phyique is really strong in the region with a lot of the Arab athletes taking top honours. Once again all round presentation, tan and posing, coupled with the look that IFBB seems to want internationally gave them the top 2 spots.
3rd Wiehann van Wyk – 17
Wiehann has placed second at worlds last year. I can say that I did expect him to do better in this show as one of our top athletes. For me my interpretation of the judges decision here I feel came down to a structural disadvantage or the way that the Arabs created the illusion that their waists are smaller. Overall I think this contributed to their dominance over our local boys. On the day the standard was tighter and I think Wiehann could perhaps have come in a little tighter than he was.
Qusai Abdel Al
No surprise here. Read my opinions on Qusai the Junior Men’s Physique section.
Ok so for me this was a bit of a contentious line-up. Let me explain. The Classic bodybuilding category for me is one that you are judged on posing. If you cannot perform certain poses for me you should be judged accordingly. So that taking that into account let me get into my crit.
1st Juan Smith – 27
I feel as though Juan as a great physique. There are some points I would like to work on if I had a say like the thickness in his chest and the width on his back. Overall I feel the judges chose him as the 1st place man in this line-up because he has a pretty balanced and symmetrical physique all in all.
That being said having seen Juan at millennium and now the Arnolds (I have given him this crit directly) he could so much better a bodybuilder if he got his posing right. I see a lot of work to do in this department. There will come a point… actually there already came a point where he stood against excellent posers in the overall line-up where I feel that it cost him a lot. That being said he did really well for his first time up there and I hope to see him develop in the future.
2nd Aadil Ahmed – 34
While Aadil’s posing was a lot better that Juan. There are a few weak points he has to take care of that become apparent when standing next to some1 as symmetrical and balanced as Juan. A bit more work in the leg region to balance out his width on his back and definitely working on his final days of prep protocol to bring a bit more tightness to his legs. In the rear poses Juan’s legs were stronger than his especially in the hammies.
3rd Mustafir Ali – 51
1st Joe Manjoo – 36 and 2nd Andre Fourie – 38
This was one hell of a close line up for me. In fact you can tell how divided the judges were on this line-up when you look at the scorecard it is evident. Both athletes trading places and it sort of came down to a split decision for me in the end.
Andre has a very strong physique. Great width in his shoulders gives him a great stage presence but also at the same time I felt set his balance off a little to his lower body. When judging a line-up like this and when it is close I have seen that the balance and symmetry will always win out in the end when it is this close. At the end of the day that was Joe Manjoo.
Conditioning wise I felt as though Andre was nice and full but Joe edged him out with a bit more detail and a more complete package.
All in all this was a nerve wracking line-up for me to watch. Both these athletes are gentleman of the sport.
3rd Nasser Khamis Jaif – 54
1st Ahmad Issam Al Hamawi – 17 and 2nd Corne Jooste – 33
This battle was about condition verses overall once again. Corne was better than I had seen him at the King Shaka Classic for sure. He was dryer and hard as rock. In fact I would hazard that he was one of the hardest bodybuilders over the course of the 2 day competition. But when placed next to Ahmad it seemed there were, what I have come to call physique flow issues. Essentially the wording tells you all you need to know. Once again the scorecard indicating the judge’s preference for balance and symmetry over the dry hard look.
I would love to see a bodybuilder get this balance right. I guess in the end that is the holy grail we are all after.
3rd Edward Jackson – 47
Edward is a really tall bodybuilder. This does give him nice flowing lines to look at. I do wonder though what his stage weight is. I say this since I would like to see him fill in a bit of muscle in his back for a bit more width to just support that height that he has.
Personally I think he could benefit from closing his stance on his poses a bit, especially the rear poses so as to present a more classic figure to the judges. He could also be a bit leaner which one could see he had room for specially standing next to the top 2.
Ok so it’s no secret I would have been pulling for Joe to win. But here’s my objective crit. Well I think its objective. I felt that this line-up was too close for comfort for me. Yes I did have a favorite but either way I honestly didn’t know which way this was going to go. In the end they were separated by a single point.
My crit on Joe:
The upper chest can be improved so that he gets a fuller look. The delts and traps can be brought up in conjunction so as to keep balance and also create a bit more width. If he increases these areas the arms will have to come along a little bit as well to maintain the ratios he currently has and what makes him so good and to top it off lets chuck in a teeny bit more lat to take advantage of his small waist and inserts.
Lol! So I hear you saying “Jees Dubs that’s like his whole upper body”. Well I’m just giving notes on the upper chest and delts but as Arnold himself said in pumping iron. If you increase one body part you have to increase the rest. This is to fall in line with the classic look. Bear in mind that if he gets a Pro card and competes in Classic Physique in the States he will be up against a few former bodybuilding Pros that have dropped some weight and chosen to go into Classic Physique. It will truly be a new challenge and new territory for Joe. So I hope this crit is taken as constructive on what I believe he needs to do to remain competitive in the next phase of his bodybuilding career.