by Andrew Michalak
Two weeks after a great opening of the 2016 Arnold Classic series in Columbus, Ohio, USA, the next event of this series will take place on the other side of the globe, in Melbourne, Australia. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be there, delivering a seminar and giving the opportunity to meet him at the Arnold Business Lunch. IFBB President Dr. Rafael Santonja will be there to supervise the whole activity, congratulate and award the winners as well as to celebrate the Opening Ceremony. More top IFBB officials will be there to coordinate and run different parts of so big event: IFBB Vice-President for South Pacific and Oceania Paul Graham, IFBB General Secretary William Tierney and his wife IFBB Women’s Committee Chairperson Wanda Tierney, IFBB Judges Committee Chairman Pawel Filleborn and others.
The event, which also includes professional show (bodybuilding, bikini, figure and fitness) and many other sports (strongman, powerlifting, armwrestling, martial arts or even chess and darts) will take place in one of the most modern facility in Australia: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and will be combined with big Expo.
Thursday, March 17, is devoted for registration of nearly 200 IFBB amateur athletes. The battle on the stage will be run on Friday (Women’s Bikini-Fitness), Saturday (Women’s Bodyfitness, Fitness and Physique plus Men’s Classic Bodybuilding and Sunday (Men’s Bodybuilding and Men’s Physique).
Eight countries decided to enter their competitors to these championships. Beside Australia, who nominated the biggest team, the second biggest team is Kuwait with 24 competitors. In some Bodybuilding and Men’s Physique categories it will be something like a match Australia vs. Kuwait. Smaller teams come from Qatar, Tahiti, Costa Rica, Egypt, Hong Kong and Sweden.
There will be a couple of megastars from Kuwait, coming just after their successful participation in the Arnold USA. A real revue of the stars is expected in 90 kg category, where Ahmad Ashkanani will meet his team-mates: Redha Al Qabandi and Gerald Pangan. Ashkanani placed 2nd at Arnold USA last year and Olympia Spain. He planned to go to Columbus this year but couldn’t go. If comes to Melbourne in peak condition, will be a favorite. Al Qabandi placed 2nd in Columbus this year and Pangan took the 3rd position there but in 85 kg class which not be run in Melbourne. They will be challenged by two top quality Australian stars: 2015 Arnold Australia winner Aaron Polites (80 kg class) who moved to 90 kg category this year and Olympia Australia 3rd place winner Jason Bednarz (also coming from 85 kg category).
If nothing changes on the scale, there will be a duel of 3 Kuwaiti competitors against 3 Australian bodybuilders in 80 kg category. Kuwait will be represented by 2016 Arnold USA winner Hamad Al Shatti and 3rd place winner Ariel Guong. In Columbus Al Shatti won the 75 kg category but here must go in 80 kg class, so should be a bit bigger and fuller. Guong, if a bit sharper, will be a demanding opponent to him. Australia enters last year’s Arnold finalist Paul Jayilian and Olympia Australia finalist Anthony Novak.
In 70 kg category, Arnold USA winner Fawaaz Al Halawa (Kuwait) will be challenged by the last year’s Arnold Australia runner-up Ralph Mateo (Australia).
Two heaviest categories will have single stars: Samir Troudi (Sweden) in 100 kg class and Mohammad Al Rashed (Kuwait) in over 100 kg category. Both are finalists of big international competitions and will battle with less known local bodybuilders.
Abdulrazzaq Al Yakoot (Kuwait) will come in a glory of the Arnold USA winner (172 cm class). His compatriot Omar Al Khalaf finished 2nd in Columbus in 175 cm class while Ali Al Arbash was 3rd in 182 cm category and runner-up at the 2015 Olympia Hong Kong. Australia will be represented by last year’s runner-up Dimitri Kastrappis (174 cm class) and finalists: Adam Farrugia and Leon Steed.
In Men’s Classic Bodybuilding Kade Dunstone comes to regain the title in the tall class.
In Women’s Bikini-Fitness two last year’s runners-up will compete: Amasha Marshall (163 cm class) and Ashleigh Watt (+167 cm class).
In Women’s Bodyfitness the top two from last year in 159 cm class: Janet Kane and Anne Tran will run a return battle.
In Women’s Physique last year’s runner-up Tracey Guile will try to move up to the top.