by John Plummer

Photography by Kevin Horton

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The bodybuilding season has got into full swing this month. Last week UKBFF British bodyfitness champion Olga Upelniece won a Diamond Cup event in Italy to earn points towards the $300,000 IFBB Amateur World Ranking. In a fortnight 11 IFBB Elite Pro cards will be awarded at the English Grand Prix International in Reading.

Sandwiched between those two big international events, more than 90 competitors took to the stage at the Classic Championships in St Albans today to battle for places at this year's British Championships in October.

Competition was fierce and some outstanding physiques will have to try again but with contests coming thick and fast, there are still plenty of opportunities to book a spot in Nottingham for the biggest domestic event of the year. Check out the calendar on the UKBFF website.


Steve Robbins wins the over-50s on his 66th birthday.

Steve Robbins wins the over-50s on his 66th birthday.

Only one man has the distinction of winning the British Championships at 80kg and 90kg – James Watts. After a couple of years away, he's back and judging by what he brought to the stage he is going to take some stopping.

James has a staggering amount of muscle on his 85 kg frame but there is so much more to his physique than just size: he's got wonderful symmetry and balance with few glaring flaws. His hamstrings and triceps are sensational.

Despite lacking tan, he was the day's standout bodybuilder, and his return to the stage immediately got tongues wagging about whether he can snag an IFBB Elite Pro card, possibly at the English Grand Prix International. It was easy to overlook the quality of runner-up Ishmael Hudson, who had a lovely shape.

Cameron Brown outmuscled his rivals in the up to 80 kg class, and had a nice structure too. Cameron's legs were particularly impressive.

It's not often a 66-year-old brings the house down at a bodybuilding competition but Steve Robbins did precisely that. First, he got the crowd rocking by posing to Can You Feel It by The Jacksons, then emcee John Stevens announced it was Steve's 66th birthday and the audience sang Happy Birthday. If that wasn't enough, he went and won the over-50s, displaying a hard physique with a particularly striking most muscular pose.

Emi Roberti's trademark conditioning took first place in masters over 40s. Emi needed to be rock hard because runner-up Jay Tsvetkov brought plenty of muscle and shape. Ayo Johnson, who was third, was competing for the first time since 1994. A quarter of a century away from the stage is a long time but Ayo looked totally at home.

Junior champion Anthony Charles' legs caught the eye as soon as he stepped on stage. His overall muscularity was good and his conditioning was excellent.

Intermediate bodybuilding was difficult to judge because the top guys all brought different qualities. Jordan Mullen, in third, was solid with a terrific midsection; runner-up James Young-Walker had one of the best shapes on stage all day while the winner, Jody Hopwood, had considerably more muscle, especially in the lower body.

Classic bodybuilding winner Brandon Fleming had a wonderful shape. He wasn't the biggest guy in the class, and needs better arms, but the quality of his physique was undeniable.

Harley Judge got the verdict in muscular men’s physique.

Harley Judge got the verdict in muscular men’s physique.


The outstanding Harley Judge took muscular men's physique with a great look for the class. Everything was on point, right down to his skin and tan. Few men have presented a better package for this class this year. Runner-up Roberto Oppong also made a big impression and will be a threat to anyone with his killer aesthetics.

Ismail Collymore reminded everyone why he is one of the country's top men's physique guys with a convincing win in the large up to 173cm height class. Ismail isn't overly muscular but he has a wonderful shape, with a tiny waist, prominent abs and a full chest, plus nice relaxed stage posing.

Keith Johnson and Yad Bazhdar both displayed strong aesthetics in the up to 179 cm class, with the former prevailing.

Mahesh Vekasiya enhanced his growing reputation in the over 179 cm class with another impressive display of conditioned shape.

Max Dembina's superior shape, enhanced by his slender waist and prominent abs, took the juniors.

In the masters, the judges went for the shape of Sam Azimi ahead of Wayne McCallum, who was harder and more muscular.

Spanish-born Ruben Lermo took classic physique. He was the widest and biggest guy in the lineup.

Sophie Davis, who won bikini fitness up to 169cm.

Sophie Davis, who won bikini fitness up to 169cm.


Katie Da Silva had a day to remember. First, she was the pick of two well trained physiques in junior bikini fitness, beating the exceptionally lean Lauren McIntosh. Then she beat some brilliant athletes in the short open height class to take home her second winner's trophy of the day.

Sophie Davis totally looked the part in winning the up to 169 cm class. Lean, symmetrical and beautiful, she rocked the stage, oozing class in every transition to defeat the stunning Alexandra Rogers. Sophie showed real pedigree and it will be interesting to see how her season unfolds.

Amy Vickers also gave a dominant performance in the over 169 cm class, giving a great example of a sculpted bikini body to overcome Tracy Harley, who has an impressively balanced body for such a tall woman.

Wellness runner-up Angelika Prejna has rare potential: her legs and glutes are spot on for the class, full of shapely muscle. She just needs to be a little tighter. Sarah Simmonds, the winner, brought a nice overall shape and conditioning.

No fewer than 13 women took to the stage in masters bikini fitness and it seemed almost cruel that only three could make the I walk second round and be awarded British title invites. In such a large line-up of contrasting heights, the diminutive Meg Lawrence did well to get noticed, let alone win, which says a lot about her quality. Meg was tighter than ever, and had lovely flowing lines, to see off Evelina Krapane and Michelle Carty. Masters bikini fitness is rapidly becoming one of the most competitive classes.

Masters bodyfitness boiled down to a close battle between three different, quality physiques. Briony Farlow and Maria Twomey, in second and third respectively, both brought lovely shapes to the stage but the judges went for the slightly more slender form of Clare Hunt, who also had great proportions. Clare then repeated her triumph in the open class to make it a day to treasure.


Junior Bodybuilding

1 Anthony Charles

Junior Bikini Fitness

1 Katie Da Silva

2 Lauren McIntosh

Junior Men's Physique

1 Max Dembina

2 Allan Picardo


1 Sarah Simmonds

2 Angelika Prejna

3 Hayley Overall

also competed: Terri Burgess, Sonia Rodriguez, Vicky West, Natalie Mirelry and Grazia Esposito

Masters Bodybuilding over 40

1 Emi Roberti

2 Jay Tsvetkov

3 Ayo Johnson

also competed: Jan Sima

Masters Bodybuilding over 50

1 Steve Robbins

2 Peter Banks

3 Darren Payne

Masters Men's Physique

1 Sam Azimi

2 Wayne McCallum

3 Nabeel Alsaadi

Intermediate Bodybuilding

1 Jody Hopwood

2 James Young-Walker

3 Jordan Mullen

also competed: Fawaz Mourad, Ashley Smith, Michele Attardi and Kelvin Sulu

Masters Bikini Fitness

1 Meg Lawrence

2 Evelina Krapane

3 Michelle Carty

also competed: Elizabeth Culyer, Amy Vickers, Alison Fernandes, Anita Fussell, Karina Fugiel, Debbie Wheeler, Maya Dimcheva, Tracy Harley and Elizabeth Lauder

Masters Bodyfitness

1 Clare Hunt

2 Briony Farlow

3 Maria Twomey

Classic Bodybuilding

1 Brandon Fleming

2 Tristan Rogers

3 David Thomas

also competed: Ciaren Batson


1 Clare Hunt

2 Briony Farlow

Bodybuilding up to 80 kg

1 Cameron Brown

2 Richard Henry

3 Darren Payne

Bodybuilding up to 90 kg

1 James Watts

2 Ishmael Hudson

3 David Thomas

also competed: Jay Tsvetkov and Peter Banks

Classic Physique

1 Ruben Lermo

2 Luke Hands

3 Jilson Do Prads

also competed: Eral Gunes

Bikini Fitness up to 164 cm

1 Katie Da Silva

2 Magdalena Furgala

3 Kayley Bull

also competed: Joanne Melling, Alison Fernandes, Vikki Cubitt, Paula Starostka, Polina Hubavenska, Cynthia Hernandez and Natalie Blackford

Bikini Fitness up to 169 cm

1 Sophie Davis

2 Alexandra Rogers

3 Maya Dimcheva

also competed: Karina Fugiel

Bikini Fitness over 169 cm

1 Amy Vickers

2 Tracy Harley

3 Annabel Von Bergen

also competed: Heather Anne Damian

Muscular Men's Physique

1 Harley Judge

2 Roberto Oppong

3 Kris Tonchev

Men's Physique up to 173 cm

1 Ismail Collymore

2 Saheeb Khalid

3 Max Dembina

also competed: Edgaras Lindinas, Adam Lazarus, Rajesh Thapa, Nicolas Yang Wang, Roberto Velozeri, Lukas Rasic, Ally Buridge and Chris Kirsten

Men's Physique up to 179 cm

1 Keith Johnson

2 Yad Bazhdar

3 Michele Attardi

also competed: Kamil Wal, Sam Azimi and Daniel Gordon

Men's Physique over 179 cm

1 Mahesh Vekasiya

2 Georgian Manolache

3 Matthew Barton