2015 KNIGHT OF CHAMPIONS REVIEW

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The Knight of Champions made a positive impact in the province of British Columbia for the BCABBA this past weekend at the Chandos Pattison Auditorium, Surrey, B.C.. Tamara Knight has long been one of the country’s top bodybuilders and has devoted countless hours over the years volunteering in various capacities. This past weekend she made the dream of hosting her own show a reality and as a competitor herself she delivered on everything she felt amateur competitors deserved in a novice show.

This past weekend Tamara Knight made the dream of hosting her own show a reality and as a competitor herself she delivered on everything she felt amateur competitors deserved in a novice show.

Between shows and after the evening concluded I had the opportunity to speak with several competitors to see what their first hand experiences were. Here are a few responses. “It was my first show and it was even more than I imagined.” Another shared, “I have done a couple shows and this one was the most organized. The swag bag was great and the trophy I won was by far the nicest I’ve been given. Kudos to the promoter.” From someone who has competed in other organizations: “I have done shows in other organizations but I felt this was the most fairly judged based on my physique. The show ran smoothly and was well-organized back stage. I will definitely recommend it to my friends.”

The show ran smoothly and was well-organized back stage. I will definitely recommend it to my friends.

Being one of the new shows added to the 2015 BCABBA schedule, and coming at the end of the summer, I was interested to see how the reception would be by the competitors, the audience and sponsors. I was pleasantly surprised in all areas. Competitors that stepped on stage Saturday had for-gone many temptations over the summer months and it was apparent everyone deserved to be on stage. The benefit to an early show like this is that now the Top 5 can focus on nearly 10 months of prep before Provincials (date yet to be announced) in 2016. That time frame allows for some significant opportunities to adjust physiques, not just perfect posing. Many of those who placed will be contenders for Provincial title honours next summer.

Magnum Nutraceuticals was title sponsor at the show and had one of the most popular booths in the lobby. I have seen the growth, both in product line and integrity, of Magnum since I met owner Markus Kaulius more than eight years ago. I know how much work he and his team put into the company and it’s great to see them give back to the competitors in many shows each year. By observation, every booth that was present saw a lot of traffic. The venue was set up nicely so that the audience had a chance to conveniently visit each of the booths during intermission and between shows. Well done Tamara.

Women's Physique

The day began with Women’s Physique. I’m somewhat surprised at the slow response this division has seen since it began. I had anticipated more bodybuilders to participate as well as more of the more muscular figure competitors. That said, the numbers are still relatively low, however, the quality has been present both in BC and Alberta and I would venture across the country as well. Very rarely have I noticed someone that was completely out of place in this class and at the Knight of Champions both competitors showed up ready to compete. At registration on Friday, the moment I saw Jill Foley I stated “there is your physique winner right there”. Even before seeing who her competition was, I knew this girl had an advanced physique that has potential to continue to the highest levels in the country. What I didn’t realize was that Rhea Proulx wasn’t about to let Jill easily walk away with a win and came in conditioned and ready to compete. Rhea battled hard but in the end, Jill’s proportions and conditioning were hard to beat and she placed first with Rhea in second. Well done ladies.

(Above - Women's Physique Winner - Jill Foley)

Men's Bodybuilding

At registration when I met Sean Bennett, I learned it had been twelve years since he last stepped on stage. Not to be fooled, I could see it in Sean’s face that he was on point and was bringing his A-game ready to battle. Fortunately for others, Sean was the lone competitor in his master’s bodybuilding class. His conditioning was on as you can see in his photo.

In the Lightweight Bodybuilding Class Voltaire Gragasin’s size and shape edged out Jesse Browne and Jerry White.

Middleweight Bodybuilding saw a competitive class battle for position. What was interesting, and is always a challenge for the judges, is the question, do you favor conditioning over proportions?  In this class the judges went with conditioning and gave first place to razor sharp Azad Palani. Nick Cosgrove placed second, Aaron Marshall third, Sunny Gill in forth, and Mike Jacuk in fifth.

Light-heavy weight saw a battle of some big boys. David Mardell took top honors and went on to win the Overall title. Master winner Sean Bennett placed second, Benjamin Wondga third, and Damian Nardini fourth.

In the heavyweight division, we saw one competitor Greg Greenough who has nice shape. With added size and conditioning, watch for him at Provincials in 2016.

For the Overalls, we saw Voltaire, Azad, David and Greg battle it out. David’s proportions and conditioning was enough to win him the overall Knight of Champions title. Congratulations David.

(Above - Men's Master's Winner - Sean Bennett)

(Above - Men's Lightweight Winner - Voltaire Gragasin)

(Above - Men's Middleweight Winner - Azad Palani)

(Above - Men's Light-Heavyweight & Overall Winner - David Mardell)

(Above - Men's Heavyweight Winner - Greg Greenough)

Figure

The Figure classes proved competitive despite the smaller numbers. Figure Grandmaster class went to Lisa Cindrich, with Lynn Willard placing second. Lisa is motivating and has an inspiring story to share which we will be sharing on our website shortly – be sure to check it out. Figure Masters saw Nicole Forrest placing first, Natasha Sauer second. Figure Short saw good competition between Nicole Forrest and Lisa Cindrich. At the end of the evening Lisa placed first. The Figure Tall Class had five competitors with Rachel Cornell placing first. She was followed by Christina Shellard, Natasha Sauer, Selishia Smith and Lynn Willard. Rachel Cornell took home overall Figure honours.

(Above - Figure Grandmaster & Short Winner - Lisa Cindrich)

(Above - Figure Tall & Overall Winner - Rachel Cornell)

Guest Poser - Zoa Linsey

Following the Figure division we were treated to a guest performance by IFBB Physique pro Zoa Linsey. Over the past five years Zoa has made a name for herself across the industry. She has competed in both the Arnold and the Olympia, the pinnacle event of the sport. Zoa’s husband Joseph sat right behind me and had his video ready to record. I could tell by his energy we were in for a treat and of course Zoa delivered. Thank you Zoa, it was great to see you bring a well-conditioned physique to the stage as well as a well-rehearsed routine that was entertaining while showcasing such an elite physique. That said, what I was almost most impressed by was how quickly Zoa recuperated and was able to address the audience. The majority of times after an exhausting performance, it takes several minutes for guest posers to catch their breath. Goes to show that physique athletes are just that, athletes.

Thank you Zoa, it was great to see you bring a well-conditioned physique to the stage

(Above - Guest Poser - IFBB Pro - Zoa Linsey)

Men's Physique

Men’s Physique is a very quickly growing category. In past shows I have seen ex-bodybuilders trying to “sneak” into this division, posing to ultimately hide the fact they still pack a lot of muscle mass. At this show, these silent monsters were absent and the division appeared more in line with what is being set at the highest levels – the Arnold and the Olympia.

In Men’s Physique Short we saw four men “gallop” on stage, as our MC so eloquently put it. James Song, who many of you have met leading up to the show in his Success Story shared on our Status Fitness website, brought a complete package of size, symmetry and conditioning and took first place. Terry Burgess had the judges’ votes for second place, Ketan Arora placed third and Mike Anthony came in forth.

Gurjinder Virk and Benjamin Edu were neck and neck all day

Men’s Physique Tall was a competitive class to say the least. The top five callout gave good indication that the judges were looking to see who would best present their physiques. One or two competitors were called up, a couple sent back into the line-up before a final six were compared for final positions. Even as the night was coming to an end, the decision hadn’t been finalized and a tie vote was decided before the Top 5 placements were announced. Gurjinder Virk and Benjamin Edu were neck and neck all day but at the end of the evening it was Gurjinder who took home first place and eventually the Overall win. Both Gurjinder and Benjamin had 10 points each going into the final decision. Benjamin had nice size and great stage presence that saw him end up in a very close second position. Both Gurjinder and Benjamin will do damage at the Provincials in 2016. Cody Harker wasn’t about to let the title slip by easily and placed a very close third with a total of 13 points. Rounding out the Top Five were Daniel Siu and Mike Leslie.

(Above - Men's Physique Short Winner - James Song)

(Above - Men's Physique Tall Competitor - Benjamin Edu)

(Above - Men's Physique Tall & Overall Winner - Gurjinder Virk)

Bikini

The Bikini Classes rounded out the show and provided the audience with some close competition. I, for one, was off on a couple of my calls.

In the Master Class, Yelena Yermolenko was the clear choice of the judges as she received all first place votes. Charmane Learning brought her A-Game too and had to settle for second. Tammy McDonald took home a third place trophy. Nice work ladies.

The Bikini A class was competitive. That said, I felt no one brought an entire package of shape, conditioning and posing which is why this class turned out to be more competitive than it was at first glance. Posing is an element that is sometimes overlooked during practice leading up to a show and it is something that can see placements vary which I felt happened here. I have witnessed dozens of bikini competitions over the years, have judged many, but couldn’t pick a favorite to win this class on this day. Those judging this class had their work cut out as evident by the final votes. Kristy Jacobs presented the most complete package of the day and tallied 12 points. I felt Cassidy McKeown had the strongest physique in the class but was off slightly with her posing which gave her a point total of 13. Arlene Neufeld kept things interesting and brought great stage presence, good posing and a good physique to the stage for a total of 14 points. Billy-Jean Nye and Danielle Dewar rounded out the Top 5.

Bikini B saw Sheriece Kowch receive first place votes across the board for a total score of 5. The beautiful Negar Saberi placed second, Master winner Yelena Yermolenko came third, Angelica Paris-Thompson fourth and the striking Kate Kryger in fifth.

Bikini C was competitive and saw a tie for first between Tae Kwon Do instructor Rachael Brew and Natalie Amoore. The tie was broken and Rachael received the first place trophy as a result. Coming in third place was Madeline Angus, with Charmane Learning in forth, Nicole Bates in fifth and Jessica Crome in sixth. I'd like to take a moment to recognize Jessica. Although she wasn't "on" at this show, she exemplifies fitness beautifully. She was graceful and pretty on stage, professional in all correspondance, and was my choice for Most Marketable athlete in this show. 

With all the first place winners decided, I was interested to see who would take home the Overall Knight of Champions Bikini title. At first, I was leaning towards the Bikini A winner Kristy Jacobs, but after the “Bikini walk” I started to lean towards Rachael Brew. I wasn’t right in either case as Class B winner Sheriece Kowch won the judges’ votes for first overall. Sheriece has a great physique but I would like to see her work on her stage presence and confidence. If she improves in these areas, she will definitely be someone to watch out for in the Provincials in 2016. Congratulations Sheriece on your win.

(Above - Bikini Master Winner - Yelena Yermolenko)

(Above - Bikini A Competitor - Arlene Neufeld)

(Above - Bikini A Competitor - Cassidy McKeown)

(Above - Bikini A Winner - Kristy Jacobs)

(Above - Bikini B & Overall Winner - Sheriece Kowch)

(Above - Bikini C Competitor - David Ford's Choice - Most Marketable - Jessica Crome)

(Above - Bikini C Winner - Rachel Brew)

Thank you to Tamara, all her volunteers and each competitor who took to the stage

Thank you to Tamara Knight once again for putting on a wonderful show. Thank you to all the volunteers who allowed things to run so smoothly both on stage and backstage and to all the competitors who took to the stage. You all worked extremely hard and deserved to be up there!! Be proud of your journey.

About David Ford

UFC and fitness celebrity cover photographer David Ford is a world renowned, multi-accredited professional photographer by the Professional Photographers of Canada and the Professional Photographers of America, an international author and public speaker. The foundations of David's business include his professionalism, knowledge and skill set.