2013 IFBB Optimum Classic: BRAAAAAZEEEEEL AGAIN !! Nascimento Wins Optimum Pro Classic
by Steve Wennerstrom, IFBB Women's Historian
It would probably be unfair to state that Brazilians own the Pro Physique division, but when considering last year's inaugural contest and thus far this year, they certainly seem to have cornered the market when considering the physical quality and allure they bring to the stage.
Prior to the Optimum Pro Classic held this weekend in Shreveport, Louisiana, Brazil's Patricia Mello had nailed down the first two shows of 2013 - the LA Grand Grand and Show of Champions – the latter of which she returned to in an effort to defend her title from last year. Now on May 11th, Karina Nascimento has followed up with another victory to add to the Brazilian column. In winning, she now ranks among the winningest WPD competitors (Patricia Mello the other)with her victories at the Desert Muscle Classic and Valenti Gold Cup last year to add to the Optimum Pro Classic here.
Held at the Horseshoe Riverdome in nearby Bossier City and promoted by Prince Harrison and Robert Blount, the Optimum Pro Classic drew a dozen contestants from 10 states as they pursued an Olympia qualifying spot, valuable points towards additional Olympia qualifying positions and $3,500 in total prize divided among the top three finishers.
It's a Brazilian Thang
If there is one thing Karina Nascimento isn't, it's shyness. In winning this event, the 5-4, 136-pound mother of three brings a heaping helping of color and flamboyant stage persona to go with her well-structured and well-conditioned physique. Her victory was a unanimous one.
Said Nascimento after the event, “This contest will always mean a lot to me because it has qualified me for a dream and goal I have had ever since I won the Ronnie Coleman Classic in Texas in 1999. Making it to the Olympia really means so much to me, and I plan on being my best.” With countrymate Patricia Mello already qualified and the New York Pro contest coming up on May 25th, Nascimento is far from a shrinking violet. She will enter the New York event with the inevitable clash and comparison with another countrymate, Juliana Malacarne.
“I'm not afraid of Juliana,” says Nascimento with a smile. “She's a beautiful girl with a killer body. But we have very different physiques. We'll both be in great shape and it will be up to the judges what they decide they like on that night. But you what? There will also be a lot of other very good Physique competitors in New York.......some from Europe and other places. I don't think anyone is an automatic winner before we walk out on stage. I'm confident in my look and I'll be ready for that contest just like all the other competitors.” Still, it's difficult to imagine Nascimento and Malacarne not lurking somewhere within the first callout. With little question, and as was the case last year, the New York Pro event will be the most hotly contested and most highly anticipated WPD event this year.
In qualifying for the Olympia, Nascimento collected $2,000 for her victory.
Runner-up to Nascimento was Georgia's Tycie Coppett. At 5-9, 152 pounds, Coppett looms large on stage with a great overall look. Still, she has run into some inconsistent judging since turning pro. In her pro debut after earning her pro status in 2011, Coppett finished ninth at the PBW Tampa Pro event, but she bounced back well to capture a runner-up finish at the Houston Pro at the end of the year earning valuable points towards this year's Olympia. But the 2013 kicked off like 2012 and she found herself dipping to ninth at the LA Pro Grand Prix on April 13th. Fortunately for her she rebounded well a month later to finish second here and add another four points to her Olympia qualification total which now stands in a tie with Venus Nguyen at 8. The two, by the way, are currently leading the pack of pursuers with that total. Coppett pocked $1,000 for her runner-up finish.
Third went to Mississippian Joele Smith. At 5-8 and hovering around the 140-pound mark. A deceptively good competitor with all the bodyparts to keep her competitive, Smith has done well since turning pro after winning her Physique class at the NPC Nationals in 2011. Her 2012 competitive season was notable. She finished sixth at the LA Pro Grand Prix (just one point out of fifth). She made a strong statement about her potential when she placed fifth at the huge New York Pro, then added a fourth at the Europa Show of Champions. Now in 2013 she has opened with a third-place finish at this event – her best effort as a pro Physique competitor. She nabbed the remaining $500 in prize money for her placement.
A Battle Royal for Places 4 Through 6.
With just one point separating fourth-placer Evangeline Belton and fifth-placer Venus Nguyen, and another single point between Nguyen and sixth-placed Karin Hobbs, it became a matter of the little things that counted for the judges to put order to their placements. The dilemma was that the high-quality trio were all strong competitors, but very different in their overall appearance.
Belton turned pro after placing third in her Physique class at the 2012 NPC Team Universe. She earned her pro stripes with a fourth-place finish at the 2012 Houston Pro in her pro debut. With her fourth-place finish here she now has four total points towards Olympia qualification.
Venus Nguyen's fifth-place finish also earned her a point towards an Olympia spot tying her with Tycie Coppett at 8 points. At 5-1, 110 pounds Nguyen manages to show excellent balance with her short stature and it will be interesting to see how she fares in larger fields of competitors where structure becomes an even more important element in the judging process. She might just be a giant killer.
An agonizing one point off Nguyen's pace left Karin Hobbs just outside of the points for Olympia qualification. The scores of these three competitors were 14, 15 and 16. A true judging nightmare.
Meanwhile, the closeness of the judging also reflected itself in the tie between 7th and 8th, and also the tie between 10th and 11th. Look for more of that uncomfortable closeness on the 25th in New York.
7- Jennifer Robinson, Bartlett, Tennessee. 24
8- Candrea Adams, Jonesboro, Georgia. 24
9- Antonia Perdikakis, Cockeysville, Maryland. 27
10- Samantha Hill, Mangham, Louisiana. 31
11- Sheilahe Brown, Irving, Texas. 31
12- Lindy Waid, Katy, Texas. 35