Bodybuilding block of categories will include 3 Classic Bodybuilding categories, 7 Bodybuilding open categories and 2 masters categories. Altogether, over 130 competitors, so around 26% of all participants. They all will meet on the stage upcoming weekend in Columbus, Ohio, USA, fighting for medals and prestigious overall victory, presented by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and IFBB President Dr. Rafael Santonja, opening the door for becoming an IFBB Pro League professional athlete! Who will be the happiest bodybuilder in Columbus on Saturday evening?
There are a lot of candidates. Let’s have a look.
BODYBUILDING OPEN CATEGORIES
One of the 2016 Arnold Amateur champions, Masashi Suzuki (Japan), will come to win again. He won 80 kg class (Light-Middleweight) and will battle in this class again. Moreover, he confirmed his top quality wining in November the world title in Spain. Theoretically, nobody could create any problem to him but he must be in top shape. Suzuki will be challenged by last year’s 4th place finisher Felipe Fierro (Chile) and 8th place winner Samir Husidic (USA). The other demanding opponent may be Olympia Amateur San Marino runner-up Lorenzo Fabbian (Italy). Plus 2016 California Championships runner-up Diego Salinas (USA).
But the most exciting category seems to be the 90 kg class (Light-Heavyweight) when we can see 2015 Arnold Amateur winner Ahmed Elzaiat (USA), who cames back to take the throne once again but it will be a very tough to achieve as he will meet the World Championships silver medal winner and 2016 Arnold Europe runner-up Zohir Mihoubi (Algeria), Arnold USA and Arnold Brazil 3rd place winner Ricardo Plata (Colombia) as well as 2016 Arnold Asia and 2015 Arnold Europe runner-up Yevgeniy Yakimov (Kazakhstan). Moreover, 2016 IFBB Diamond Cup Athens winner and 2015 Arnold Europe finalist Hawez Sardar (Iraq) and 2016 CAC Championships runner-up Rupert Johnson (Jamaica). Plus former European junior champion and World Junior Championships runner-up Piotr Borecki (Poland), who has been working out over 2 years for his debut in the men’s open class. Category packed with top stars!
Also the over 100 kg category (Super-Heavyweight) looks quite interesting. Two-time runner-up (2013 and 2014) Paul Poloczek (Germany) decided to come back and try one again. Will it be the case of “third time lucky”? His two main opponents come from South America. Franco Domínguez (Argentina) took 4th place last year in Columbus but later on moved up to the 2nd position at Arnold Brazil. He is also the South American Championships overall winner and is still improving. Camilo Diaz (Colombia) placed 5th at Arnold Brazil last year. Then two challengers from Europe: Andre Dufrasnes (Belgium) – 6th place in Columbus and the European Championships runner-up Andrea Presti (Italy). So, Poloczek’s domination is not so sure but he remains a favorite.
Taking into account this situation, we can expect that after two years of the super-heavyweight stars dominance the overall title may go to one of the lighter bodybuilders. Previously, it happened in 2014, when the 90 kg class champion, Kang Kyung Won of Korea, was declared the overall winner in Columbus.
Up to 100 kg category (Heavyweight) is not so overcrowded this year and will include a couple of great come backs. Paolo Fontana (Italy) was the finalist in 2012 in Columbus and decided to return. Rigoberto Vellos (Belize) placed in the top 10 in 2014 and will also be seen on the stage once again. But Jiang Xi (China Hong Kong) was the runner-up in 2014 and placed 5th last year (in 90 kg class). He has moved to 100 kg class this year and remains the main pretender to the victory.
Up to 85 kg category (Middleweight) will also have its great comeback: 2014 Arnold Amateur champion Mirko Caselli (Italy), who won 80 kg class 3 years ago, then had a less successful start in 2015 (10th position), so will do his best to be back at the top this time. His main opponents: Arnold Brazil runner-up Cristian Molina (Argentina) and Olympia Amateur Kuwait 5th place finisher Mohammad Alhindi (Kuwait).
In 70 kg class (Lightweight) last year’s 3rd place winner Moises Cortes (Mexico) will try to grasp the title; however, he will have to dominate over 2014 Arnold Europe and Olympia Spain winner and 2015 World Championships finalist Antonio Herrera (Spain) as well as 2015 CAC champion Paul Wilson (Bahamas). Maybe the NPC-USA 5th place finished Matt Keith (USA) will join them in this battle.
In the 75 kg class (Welterweight) there is one clear leader: 2016 World Championships bronze medal winner Shotaro Suyama (Japan). European Championships bronze medal winner in 70 kg class, Miroslav Skadra (Slovakia), has moved to 75 kg category, so will be bigger and better. They will meet the Swiss master champion Antonio Bellaroba who will celebrate his 5th start in Columbus. His best one was in 2014 (2nd place). He will be back after one-year break. The next demanding challenger will be 2016 Eastern USA champion Dickens Fenelon (USA).
Master Men Bodybuilding over 50 includes two great champions with long and very successful competitive careers: Luis Carlos Sarmento (Brazil) and Eddie Derzapf (Germany). Sarmento won 4 world masters titles in 40-49 years group and last year added his first over 50 years title. As a senior bodybuilder he was the 2006 World Men’s Championships runner-up and won two bronze medals. Also two-time runner-up in Columbus in Masters 40-49 years class. At 2015 Arnold Amateur finished 4th in the men’s open Middleweight Class (being 51)!
Derzapf was 1994 world champion, winning also 3 World Men’s Championships silver medals. Also won the World Games in 1990 and 1993. In 2011, at 47, won 2 bronze medals: at the 1st Olympia Amateur in London and the European Men’s Championships and entered the finals of the World Man’s Championships. Then ceased to compete and came back in 2014, entering the finals of the World Men’s Championships once again (5th place). He will compete in the masters class for the first time. Also first time in Columbus.
These both bodybuilding superstars met on the stage three times: in 2002 (Derzapf finished 4th, Sarmento 12th but then all medal winners were disqualified, so practically Derzapf was the world champion second time in his career), in 2004 (Sarmento finished 4th, Derzpapf 5th) and 2006 (Sarmento finished 2nd, Derzpapf 4th).
Now both are 53 years old and it will be their 4th meet. Will Derzpapf win the battle for the second time or Sarmento for the 3rd time?
CLASSIC BODYBUILDING CATEGORIES
The greatest attraction of Classic Bodybuilding should be the next top battle in the over 180 cm category (Class C): Svetozar Milenkovic (Serbia) vs. Jacek Ratusznik (Poland). Milenkovic was the 2015 Arnold Amateur winner and finished 3rd last year, just ahead of Ratusznik. But later on Ratusznik won 7 other IFBB top international events, 4 in overall, so their next direct clash should be top exciting.
The next top duel will take place in the up to 180 cm category (Class B), when the last year’s runner-up Lepomir Bakic (Serbia) will meet 2015 3rd place winner Gergely Arnold (Hungary). Arnold had a good 2015 season, adding 4th place at Arnold Europe but didn’t compete in 2016. Other well-known competitors are: Olympia Amateur San Marino winner Carlo Michellini (Italy) and Arnold Europe 6th position holder Austin Williams (United Kingdom).
In the short class, up to 171 cm, there is no clear leader. Better known athletes are: Olympia San Marino 3rd place winner Remi Ganzeman (Belgium) and Arnold USA 7th place finisher Adrian Arroyo (USA).
Photos by Igor Kopcek (Eastlabs):