by Andrew Michalak
This year’s edition of Arnold Brazil is an extraordinary event. Not only because of the record-breaking number of participating athletes (572 of 14 countries) but also due to the number of top quality international stars. Among them are, from Brazil: Fernanda Kunze and Bruna Brito (bikini-fitness); Wagna Vargas (bodyfitness), Fernanda Gutilla Sierra (women’s physique), Francisco De Assis, Isaquiel Balbi, Antonio Inácio Santiago, Emerson Pereira De Almeida, Luiz Carlos Sarmento (all of bodybuilding); from Paraguay: Nora Martinez and Magdalena Vazquez (both of bodyfitness) and Luis Fernando Rios (men’s physique); from Argentina: Romina Lameiro and María Mernes (both bodyfitness) and Rodrigo Cortez (bodybuilding); from Bolivia: Ivonne Gutierrez (bodyfitness); from Venezuela: Tibis Araque (bodyfitness); from Colombia: Ricardo Plata Duran (bodybuilding) to mention the most successful ones.
In most of 31 categories we can expect exciting duels of champions fighting for the trophies and Pro Cards. The most popular division is men’s bodybuilding (117 athletes). Adding 69 classic bodybuilders and 23 masters, there will be 209 bodybuilders in total. Then men’s physique with 113 participants and women’s wellness-fitness exploded with 96 athletes. Up till now, this new division is run in South America only. Bikini-fitness attracted 75 girls and bodyfitness 53 ladies. 18 athletes will participate in the women’s physique open category.
With all these stars performing on the stage and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, IFBB President Dr. Rafael Santonja, Brazilian Federation President Prof. Mauricio de Arruda and many National Federations’ Presidents from South American and Caribbean countries in the front row of the Riocentro Exhibition & Convention Center, it will be the biggest and most prestigious IFBB event on this continent this year. Moreover, very good opportunity to show the IFBB power and physique sports popularity just few months prior to the upcoming Summer Olympic Games which will be hosted by the same city: Rio de Janeiro!
Whom will we see on the stage? Let’s start with the ladies divisions.
Women’s Bikini-Fitness up to 160 cm:
In a group of 28 girls there are four top players: 2015 World Championships bronze medal winner Bruna Brito (Brazil), 2015 South American champion and 2016 Arnold USA 3rd place winner Magdalena Vazquez (Paraguay), 2014 World Championships runner-up Amanda De Lima and 2014 Arnold Brazil winner and 2015 Arnold USA 3rd place winner Julenoy Dias (both of Brazil). Who can enter this game between those top international stars? Carolina Alvarez (Chile) took 2nd position last year in Rio, ahead of Vazquez but was less successful at other international events. Gisela Arenas (Argentina) was in the finals of the 2014 World Championships, her team-mate Josela Botarelli placed 3rd at the South American Championships showing nice progress. Extremely interesting category packed with the stars!
Women’s Bikini-Fitness up to 163 cm:
Rather equal category of 18 competitors. The most experienced one among them is Kim Gutierrez (Chile) who placed 5th last year and later on won the bronze medal at the South American Championships in Lima. Patrícia Boffa (Brazil) participated in the latest World Championships in Budapest but failed enter the top 15.
Women’s Bikini-Fitness up to 166 cm:
Unexpectedly short class with 9 athletes. But among them one megastar: 2016 Arnold USA overall winner Fernanda Kunze (Brazil). At the 2015 South American Championships she lost to Eliana Medina of Venezuela but her latest progress is amazing. Other athletes in this class are rather rising stars.
Women’s Bikini-Fitness over 166 cm:
The next category packed with the stars. Two well-known athletes from Chile: 2015 South American champion (172 cm class) María Westphal and runner-up (over 172 cm class) Camila Zaror. Then 2015 South American Championships bronze medal winner (172 cm class) Jessica Cavi (Bolivia) and last year’s Arnold Brazil 3rd place winner Elisa Pecinih (Brazil) who also represented Brazil at the World Championships in Budapest. Sarah Malta (Brazil) also was in Budapest taking the 9th position in 169 cm class.
Women’s Bodyfitness up to 158 cm:
Two great stars will battle for the title: last year’s World Championships 4th place winner and former South American Championships overall winner María Mernes (Argentina) and former world and South American champion Nora Martinez (Paraguay). From the host country, last year’s Arnold Brazil 4th place winner Simei De Jesus.
Women’s Bodyfitness up to 163 cm:
One superstar from Brazil: 2015 Arnold USA winner and 2016 runner-up Wagna Vargas. Wagna finished 3rd in Rio in 2014 and 2nd in 2015 (behind Susana Alegre). This year Alegre is not coming, so Wagna will have a fantastic opportunity to grasp the title, finally. The other pretenders to top places: 2015 South American Championships bronze medal winner Lorena Luciani (Argentina), 2016 Arnold USA top 10 Dayany Castañeda (Venezuela).
Women’s Bodyfitness over 163 cm:
Two Brazilian stars: Patrícia Pízio and Claudia Galhoti seem to be favorites but will have a couple of demanding challengers. Pizio placed 2nd last year in Rio, just ahead of Galhoti but Galhoti has got more international achievements like 2nd position at the 2015 Arnold Europe and 3rd at the 2016 Arnold USA. Interesting battle is expected! Other serious pretenders: 2015 South American top two in 168 cm class: Lina Herrera (Colombia) and runner-up Marissol Bisquolo (Brazil) as well as top two from +168 cm class: Ivonne Gutierrez (Bolivia) and runner-up Carolina de Almeida (Brazil). Who will be in the best body condition on Sunday, April 3rd in Rio, she will be the winner.
Master Women’s Bodyfitness over 35 years:
Not less interesting class, with two most successful ladies: 2015 South American maters overall winner Tibis Araque (Venezuela) and former South American multi champion Romina Lameiro (Argentina). Then 2015 South American Championships masters 3rd place winner Sandra Martinez (Colombia) plus other well-known competitors: Cynthia Netto and Cláudia Gentil (both of Brazil) and Laura Saccomani (Paraguay).
One open category with 18 athletes what means nearly 100% more than last year. Among them last year’s winner Fernanda Gutilla Sierra (Brazil) who also was the finalist of the World Championships (6th place) and won this year’s Arnold USA. But her team-mate Evelaine Rocha placed even higher at the Worlds, in the 4th position. Who will be better in Rio? The matter is more complicated as Adriana Bernal (Colombia) finished ahead of Rocha at the South American Championships, in 3rd place. Then last year’s finalist Rosane Braga (Brazil). Nobody can solve this Gordian knot before the contest.
This category is not so popular in South America, so we will see only three athletes performing on the stage, with last year’s 3rd place winner Suelen Cerutti (Brazil) and 4th place winner Valentina Rodríguez (Uruguay). South American junior champion Gissella Diaz (Paraguay) will try to win over them.
This category is popular mostly in Brazil; however, single girls from other countries will try to battle against Brazilian champions this year. Maybe, introduction of this division to the last year’s South American Championships will improve the situation. The most intriguing category will be up to 168 cm, with last year’s overall winner and South American champion Angela Borges (Brazil). Angela has been unbeatable up till now. Will she continue this series of success this year? The most demanding challengers: South American Championships runner-up Andressa Pedroni (Brazil), last year’s Arnold Brazil over 168 cm class winner Jenifer Endringer (is she going to change the category?) and runner-up Andreza Godoy (Brazil).
Aline Machado (Brazil) will come to regain the title in 163 cm class but in 158 cm class and over 168 cm class the throne is empty.
Pictures by Igor Kopcek