UKBFF CLASSIC CHAMPIONSHIPS
by John Plummer
Photography by Christopher Bailey
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Four Arnold Classic Europe invitations were handed out at the UKBFF Classic Championships in St Albans.
The event was primarily a qualifier for the biggest event in domestic bodybuilding – the British Championships, where competitors get the chance to win a title recognised in 197 countries around the world affiliated to the IFBB.
But such was the quality that four outstanding competitors were also offered invites to the Arnold in Barcelona, to whoops of delight from their supporters.
Great champions of yesteryear, including Eddie Abbew, JD Dawodu, Ian Dowe and Nicole Pitcher-Scott were there, along with current champions, such as classic king Reno Banks and Rasto Valent, who two days earlier had been invited to compete in the men's physique pro show at the Arnold.
There is now a four-week break until the next UKBFF contest, the Ultimate Beginners in Kent, which already has 70 entries.
A junior monster emerged in the mighty form of Carter Cotterrill. Carter, 21, has major league muscle but there is more to his physique than mass: for a tall guy he has good balance, with sizeable quads and a wide back that made a big impression on debut. So big, in fact, the judges awarded him an invite to the Arnold as well as the British Championships in his home city of Nottingham.
Carter wasn't the only bodybuilder offered the opportunity to compete in Barcelona. Besjan Osmani, who won the over-85 kg intermediates, also had the honour. Besjan had an extremely classy physique that came alive when he posed – well balanced, with fabulously full muscle bellies, he hit a vacuum in the front poses and his rear poses showed lats and glutes aplenty. This is what bodybuilding is about.
Ditto Francis Ketibuah in the up to 90 kg open class. Francis made his debut at last year's Ultimate Beginners and now he's on his way to the British and the Arnold. Like Besjan, he has breathtaking lines and his tight hamstrings bore testament that he'd left no stone unturned in his quest to best display it.
In the 80 kg class, Yasser Farhah had a little too much size and hardness for impressive runner-up Jason Priestley. Third-placed Nav 'Sword' Almashan has picked up more winners' medals than most in his gilded career. The quality is still there but, stepping up to 80 kg, he was a little outsized.
Over-90 kg winner Chris Stevenson showed commendable size for a tall man.
Spencer Whitehair's conditioning was the highlight of the masters. Competing in the over-50s, Spencer showed astonishing detail in the rear shots, and plenty of muscle, especially in his quads, which are so good they are in danger of overpowering the rest of his physique. Spencer's wow factor was enough to get the edge over the nice shape of Michael Bukowski.
Alexandros Masihzadeh's rock hard midsection and well sculpted legs took the over-40s.
Ryan Evans rounded off a busy few weeks on stage with victory in the up to 85 kg intermediates.
Ashkan Marandi's extra size was the difference in classic bodybuilding.
Outstanding fitness competitors are a rarity – it takes someone special to build a stage-worthy physique and a show-worthy routine. Alison Amos, however, fits the bill. Her physique alone would have won many shows this year and after displaying it she performed a routine to The Greatest Showman and boy, did she put on a show. A real find and her Arnold invite was fully merited.
If wellness is all about the booty, Alaura Galeru is a star in the making. Alaura displayed glutes that would put many a Brazilian to shame, with legs to match. A great example of what wellness is about. The attractive Abby Best was second and the attractive shape of Polina Hubavenska third.
Helen Graham has watched partner Si Gheshash win numerous trophies this year with his bone dry conditioning. Now it was her turn to show she can also bring the shreds. She needed to because her opponent in masters bodyfitness, Zena Uyiekpen, was mightily impressive, particularly her lower body. Helen and Si must be contenders for Britain's most shredded couple.
Tilly James has one of the best shapes you'll see on stage, which says a lot about Charlotte Humphreys, who edged her out in bodyfitness. Charlotte was a little better conditioned and had a ridiculously tiny waist.
It was difficult to separate the top three in the open bikini fitness class but the judges eventually chose the beautifully trained form of Karina Vasquez ahead of well conditioned beauty Zane Zviedre.
Three contrasting looks made junior bikini fitness difficult to judge. Matilda Selby in third had clearly trained hard and was very lean – in fact she was possibly too lean and developed for bikini fitness. Runner-up Melissa Biggart was slender with lovely lines and the winner Holly Moffatt presented an ideal look for the class, combining balance, tone and shape with the right amount of development. Holly grew up in St Albans and used to appear on the Alban Arena stage in theatrical productions so this was quite a homecoming. The athletic-looking Harriet Iles won rookie bikini fitness.
The tall height class featured no fewer than nine competitors and it was great to hear the noise level ratchet up for the last class of the day.
More than a few were cheering Zac Fotheringham and the noise level hit deafening when he was the first name called out. But Zac had to settle for second as Cristiano Marques' tapered aesthetics took the title.
Ismail Collymore has impressed on the UKBFF stage before but it seems the best is yet to come. He took the short height class with a highly aesthetic package that included a tiny waist, excellent taper and real stage presence.
Ricky Rogers, who won the medium class, had good shoulders and thick abs. He needs to smile more and look confident.
Nick Jenner, a good looking guy with sharp abs, won a large rookie line-up.
Juniors was close between Abdulkarim Almahyawi and Iain Service, who were both commendably lean and rewarded with British finals invites.
Serviceman Marc Randall flew in from Cyprus to pick up the winner's trophy in the masters division, where he displayed a lean and healthy-looking upper body.
Kristian Kovacs' powerful and balanced upper body earned victory in a strong muscular men's physique line-up.
1 Carter Cotterill
Junior Bikini Fitness
1 Holly Moffatt
2 Melissa Biggart
3 Matilda Selby
Junior Men's Physique
1 Abdulkarim Almahyawi
2 Iain Service
Rookie Bikini Fitness
1 Harriet Iles
2 Coral Bacon
3 Toni Schneider
1 Alaura Caleru
2 Abby Best
3 Polina Hubavenska
also competed: Sereena Cable, Amanda Fletcher and Grawa Esposno
Rookie Men's Physique
1 Nick Jenner
2 Oliver Reynoldson
3 Ryan Miles
also competed: Callum Turner, John Begley, Michal Glowacki and Michael Ashley
Masters Bodybuilding over 40
1 Alexandros Masihzadeh
Masters Bodybuilding over 50
1 Spencer Whitehair
2 Michael Bukowski
3 Peter Banks
Masters Men's Physique
1 Marc Randall
2 Raymond Warwick
Intermediate Bodybuilding under 85 kg
1 Ryan Evans
Intermediate Bodybuilding over 85 kg
1 Besjan Osmani
2 Thomas Morris
3 Fawaz Mousad
also competed: Jonathan Peers
1 Helen Graham
2 Zena Uyiekpen
1 Alison Amos
1 Ashkan Marandi
2 Lal Kanwar
1 Charlotte Humphreys
2 Tilly James
Bodybuilding under 80 kg
1 Yasser Farhah
2 Jason Priestley
3 Nav 'Sword' Almashan
Bodybuilding under 90 kg
1 Francis Ketibuah
Bodybuilding over 90 kg
1 Chris Stevenson
1 Karina Vasquez
2 Zane Zviedre
3 Karolina Kalinowska
also competed: Ellie Turner and Stephanie Richardson
Muscular Men's Physique
1 Kristian Kovacs
2 Jack Davies
3 Tomas Nagy
also competed: Greg Mazloumain, Luke Guy and Harry Payne
Men's Physique up to 173 cm
1 Ismail Collymore
2 Marcus White
3 Thomas Routly
also competed: Stephen Huang, Kieran Joseph, Saheeb Khalid and Jack Davis
Men's Physique up to 179 cm
1 Ricky Rogers
2 Keith Johnson
3 Tommy Millar
also competed: Jordan Roberts
Men's Physique over 179 cm
1 Cristiano Marques
2 Zac Fotheringham
3 Christopher Barton
also competed: Clinton Winn, Luke Parker, Ash Tapp, Michael Dunkley, Toby Moth and Jason O'Sullivan