With the pro women's Bodybuilding field gaining the lion's share of the attention at the Toronto Super Show on Saturday night, it was the Physique field who stood up to be counted on Sunday as 19 competitors readied themselves with stage routines that would further highlight what they had shown at the prejudging the previous day. The Physique division has been moving at a somewhat frantic pace in 2014, and this tenth show of the season has further produced the makings of another stellar group who will eventually grace the Olympia stage in September. With another seven WPD pro contests left on the 2014 schedule, the finalized field should quite easily surpass last year's inaugural event.
Oh, Mindi O!
There are those who will quickly defend the fact that there is nothing like competitors who bring years of experience to a contest, thus bumping up the level of competition in a given event. And they would be right. Competitors who have walked the walk sweeten the pot for the fans in the audiences. The vets can reach deeper in the knowledge barrel for the little things that add that extra polish to a stage performance.
Put simply, they've been there, done that. Still, in the new Physique division, nothing is a lead-pipe certainty as has already been seen in contests this year. So, even the best of the best, still need to leave everything on the stage in an effort to take home the title. And that's exactly what hometown Canadian favorite Mindi O'Brien did – and had to do – on Sunday afternoon.
Oh, So Close…
The title of this report refers to a battle royal and that might be an understatement. In the relatively short history of the Women's Pro Physique division (34 contests before this event) there has never been a race as close as the Toronto Super Show offered up this year.
The record will show that Mindi O'Brien won the event, and her victory was well-deserved. But it was close like no other WPD event in the past. First, a little history about Mindi O'Brien, a legendary figure in Canadian fitness and on the world fitness scene for over a decade. In that time she has competed in six Fitness Olympias and last year's inaugural Physique Olympia. She has also competed in five Fitness Internationals. O'Brien made the switch to Physique in 2012 and competed five times in 2013, placing as high as second at the Greater Gulf States and landing a 15th-place spot in the Physique Olympia.
In 2004 O'Brien made her pro fitness debut at the Southwest Pro Cup and won the event becoming the first Canadian to win a pro fitness contest. That said, Mindi O'Brien had not won another pro event until this weekend – ten years! That's a long wait for another victory. But the real story lies in just how close this competition was.
O'Brien's final score was 21 points. But her numerical margin of victory was as close as it could be. Chasing O'Brien was Sandra Lombardo from Freedom, New York. After turning pro through the 2012 IFBB North American Championships Physique division, Lombardo entered last year's Toronto Super Show placing 9th. And to illustrate just how fluid the judging can be, Lombardo had just placed 16th at this year's Optimum Classic just a week earlier. Here, Lombardo was brought out in the first call-out and was placed in the middle of the line-up. Cearly, she had been noticed at this event. Long story short, Lombardo finished second to O'Brien. Her score: 22 points. From 16th one week to runner-up the next.
Also in the first prejudging call-out was Teresita Morales from Middle Village, New York. She too was in the middle of the first call-out group with judges eyeballing her closely. Unlike Lombardo, Morales carried some strong placings into this contest including a third-place finish at the 2013 Tampa Pro and a runner-up spot at the 2012 New York Pro.
Here, Morales had made some really noteworthy improvements, not only in her physique, but also in her overall general appearance. She radiated – and her stage presence was glowing throughout the event. She would finish third behind O'Brien and Lombardo with a score of – wait for it – 23 points. The point totals had to be heartbreaking for both Lombardo and Morales, but they have both elevated themselves to a highly competitive level for future shows – at least theoretically. It was a tight trio if there ever was one. But Mindi O'Brien collected the prize winning check for $2,000 and the highly valued qualification to the Physique Olympia.
Placing fourth is one of the pro Physique division's most stalwart entrants – Jill Rudison. Competing seven times in 2013, that included a fifth-place finish at the Toronto Super Show, Rudison had already posted three entries this year with a fifth-place finish at the Optimum Classic to go with her strong placement here. One wonders what Rudison thought as Lombardo placed second when she (Rudison) had topped her by 11 placings a week earlier. That said, she appears to be reaching a consistent level of placings by virtue of her ever-improving physique that didn't really have that many faults to begin with. Her 40 points in the final tallies was well off the pace of the top three, but she's scoring points towards the Olympia Qualification points race in the process.
Fifth went to O'Brien's fellow Canadian Leah Johnson from Nova Scotia. A former Figure competitor, Johnson was making her pro debut at this event and it was a notable one at that. Johnson earned her pro card by winning the overall Physique title at the Canadian Nationals. One thing is certain, she's a long way from her days as a Figure competitor who won the Nova Scotia Provincial overall title in 2004. This division suits her very well.
Outside the Top Five
6- Tracy Weller, Georgia
7- CeaAnna Kerr, Canada
8- Fabiola Boulanger, Canada
9- Nathalie Foreau, France
10- Lise Thexton, Canada
11- Colette Nelson, New York
12- Orlandina Balan, New York
13- Nkechi Nwafor Robinson, Canada
14- Jessica Bowman, Maryland
15- Amie Francisco, New York
16- Michelle Krack, Canada
16- Ida Sefland, Denmark
16- Aurelia Grozajova, Slovakia
16- Irina Veselova, New Jersey/Russia