Olympia weekend officially began Friday, October 8 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida with prejudging for five of the six women's divisions.
In all but one case, head judge Sandy Williamson included six women in the all-important first callout, cutting it back to four for the final callout to give competitors and fans alike a good idea of where the athletes stood.
The physique round is worth only one-third of the final score in fitness, but it can make or break a placing. This year's Fitness O lineup included 13 of the world's top competitors, and the physique results should be similar—but not identical–to the outcome of the Fitness International, held on September 25.
Defending champ Missy Truscott took center spot in the comparisons. Standing next to her in the center was Whitney Jones, who missed the International due to a positive COVID-19 test, with Ariel Khadar and Jacklyn Baker looking at third and fourth in this round. The best performers often don't have the best genetics for physique, but Truscott and Jones are two athletes who excel in the body round as well as the routines, and they should prevail at the finals.
Former four-time Fitness Olympia champ Oksana Grishina made the first callout, along with Tamara Vahn, but they were dropped to a subsequent comparison by Williamson. That leaves an almost insurmountable barrier for Grishina, even if she wins the routine round at the finals tonight, something she's highly capable of achieving.
Twenty women made it to the stage for the Figure Olympia judging, with one athlete having scratched beforehand. The first callout consisted of reigning four-time champ Cydney Gillon, last year's runner-up Natalia Soltero, Jessica Reeyes Padilla, Nicole Zenobia Graham, and two surprises, Stephanie Gibson and Larhanna.
For the final comparison, Graham and Robinson were out—one of them should take fifth—with Gillon and Soltero looking to repeat their placings from 2020. Gibson, winner of the Lenda Murray Savannah Pro, is positioned for a possible third-place finish with her balanced physique, and Padilla should be back in the money with a top-four finish.
Another surprise was perennial top-fiver Nadia Wyatt, looking a bit wan and flat, landing in the third callout.
Women's Physique Olympia
Eighteen muscular–but not too muscular—women hit the stage for women's physique, with defending champ Sarah Villegas and 2020 runner-up Natalia Abraham Coelho landing in the center of the first callout.
Also making the first callout were Barbara Menage, Ana Harlas, Brook Walker, and Melissa Teich. In the final comparison, Harlas and Teich were left fighting for fifth place, along with Ivie Rhein, who took fifth last year, and Walker, who won the 2021 Optimum Classic Pro, looking to finish in the money.
The upset, if it comes, will be for the top spot. Villegas looked good, to be sure, but Coelho, who continues to improve, displayed more wow factor, with better balance than she's had in the past. Plus, Head Judge Williamson, who is very specific in the way she positions the competitors, had Villegas in the number-two spot in both callouts. If Coelho does ascend to the Olympia throne, you read it here first.
The IFBB's oldest women's division proved an exception to the routine. Although 20 female flexers lined up onstage, the judges saw fit to call out only four for the first comparison: reigning champ Andrea Shaw, 2020 runner-up "Marvelous" Margie Martin, 2020 third-place finisher Helle Trevino, and hot prospect Mona Poursaleh, cited as a dark horse in Bodybuilding.com's Olympia preview. It seemed that either too many competitors had not brought their A-game or those four women just were on a whole different level.
Poursaleh, who won the 2020 Tampa Pro, is looking at fourth place, a huge step up in her Olympia debut, while veteran Irene Anderson, in the second callout, could repeat her fifth-place finish from last year. As for the top three, here's where you can go crazy trying to interpret the judges' intentions.
Everyone had done her homework, but to these eyes, Shaw was the clear winner, having sharpened her total-package physique since taking the Rising Phoenix a month earlier. Once again, however, Williamson positioned the champ in the second spot, with Trevino in the center and Martin appearing to drop to third. So again, we may see a new champ when the smoke has cleared. However it falls, the scores should be close.
The historic first Wellness Olympia brought 20 well-toned competitors to the stage, with the likely outcome being a lesson in how you can slip up on the little things. Wellness competitors carry more muscle in their lower bodies, which means not only 20 great sets of glutes in the lineup but also more athletes with big, terrific calves than you may find in other divisions.
The pre-contest hype centered around three competitors, Angeles Borges and Yarishna Alaya, both featured in Bodybuilding.com's Olympia Preview, and Francielle Mattos, who won the Arnold Amateur in 2020 and followed it with a win at the Musclecontest Nacional Pro in her professional debut. All three made the critical first callout, along with Isabelle Nunes, Sunny Andrews, and Julia Chittara. Andrews and Chittara will be fighting it out for fifth at the finals, and Nunes should earn the fourth spot.
That leaves Borges, Alaya, and Mattos, and the way Williamson was moving the three around, the winner should be either Borges or Mattos but not Alaya, despite the latter being in excellent shape. That's where the little things come in. When Alaya first came onstage, she did not appear to be oiled up or tan enough, and her choice of a pale-yellow bikini did not show her physique to best advantage. By her second appearance, she had added some oil and got a better position in the callout, so she could finish in the runner-up spot. Whether the first Wellness Olympia champ will be Borges or Mattos is anyone's guess.