FRENCH SUCCESS

by John Plummer

The IFBB season is moving into overdrive. Seven days after the season-opening pro event in Greece, three international events were staged over the weekend.

The Sweden Grand Prix attracted 200 competitors from 15 countries and the $20,000 Mr and Ms America IFBB Cup was successfully staged in Lima, Peru.

But the main focus for UK athletes was the inaugural IFBB Elite Pro France, which had $18,000 of prize money available for the pros.

The Diamond Cup that took place the day before the pro show gave amateurs the opportunity to compete against top quality international opponents and win points towards the IFBB World Ranking.

The UK's Donatas Kusleika and Viktorija Ruminaviciute both did precisely that by winning bronze medals in classic physique and up to 160 cm bikini fitness respectively.

And Francisco Rocha's hot streak continued when he won silver in master's men's physique.

The following day's pro show saw Mahmoud Elmawardy build on his second place finish the previous week in Greece with fifth in men's physique.

Kristie Sanderson, making her IFBB Elite Pro debut in bodyfitness, looked superb and finished sixth.

The action moves to the Mediterranean this weekend for the €15,000 Elite Pro Malta, which has pro categories for bodybuilding, classic physique and wellness, as well as a Diamond Cup for amateurs.

The UK is sending a strong team for the Diamond Cup, which includes Lisa Marie Graham (bikini fitness up to 169 cm and masters bikini fitness), Francisco Rocha (master's men's physique), Bilyana Topolova (bikini fitness up to 160 cm) and Olga Upelniece (bodyfitness over 163 cm and masters bodyfitness).

They will all be looking to win medals and points to climb the world rankings.