Nicole Nagrani won the inaugural Bikini International in 2011 in unanimous fashion, and she looks to repeat! But can she fend off rising stars like Jaime Baird, Nathalia Melo and India Paulino? Here's the skinny on the women who take the stage Saturday afternoon at Veteran's Memorial Auditorium.
2012 Bikini International Competitors
Andrews finished 9th at the Arnold last year and was all over the map in her 2011 placings. She won the St. Louis Pro show, then didn't crack the top 15 at the Olympia. She has yet to crack the top 5 in a show since her win in St. Louis. She'll have a tough time winning here. If she makes the top 10, she can consider it a successful showing.
Jaime found her groove and solidified herself as a top contender in 2011. She comes off a top 5 finish at the Olympia and notched two pro wins last year. I used to take issue with her over-the-top posing theatrics, but she ditched those and now presents like a pro. Look for Jaime to be in the first callout.
We never know where Abbie will show up. When she's in a good headspace it shows on stage. When she's distracted with off-stage things, she's not at her best. She considered competing in Phoenix, but opted to focus on her first trip to the Arnold stage. Look for her to be in the top 10.
She finished in 9th at the Olympia and if she can move up from there it'll be a solid outing. She's coming off a second-place finish to close out 2011. If her suit fits and her booty is tight she'll be in the mix.
Juliana is a bit of a dark horse. This former collegiate swimmer has a great athletic physique. She closed out the competition season with a 3rd-place finish, and still wasn't at her best.
When she brings a tighter, conditioned physique she's a top 5 contender. I could see her in the hunt for a top-six spot. She switched up her training; we'll see how it suits her.
Sonia made the switch from Figure and was crowned the first Bikini Olympia champ. She edged out Nathalia Melo by one point for second place at the 2011 Arnold, but I don't see history repeating itself. She closed out the 2011 season with a 5th-place finish at the Olympia.
She managed to strip muscle off her frame and my guess is we'll see an even smaller Sonia at this show. Her issue has always been her midsection; she's not the curviest woman on stage. Sonia improved her stage presence as a bikini competitor since the switch. She'll have a tough time cracking the top 5 this year.
I like the look that Candyce brings to the stage. She was out of the money at the 2011 Olympia, but she bounced back and finished second at the Iowa Pro to close out her 2011 season. This event is a bit of a homecoming for her. She competed on this stage as an amateur in 2011 and finished 7th. Now she will battle for a top spot in the pro ranks.
Diana Graham Diana gets the award for competing in the most shows in 2011. She went from the amateur ranks to a contender in the pros within a few months. She closed out 2011 with a 3rd-place finish at the Ft. Lauderdale Pro.
Diana is a about as consistent as you can ask for in a competitor. Her biggest challenge is her assets up top. They can be a bit distracting at times and a bit, dare I say "too much."
Jessica has been all over the map with her placings. She finished in the dreaded tied for 16th at the Olympia and will look to move up from there.
Her biggest challenge is her lower body. She'll need to bring her legs in much tighter and toned than we've seen in her past few shows. She's switched trainers and will look to bring a new physique to the Arnold Stage.
This will be Lexi's pro debut and she'll do it in front of a hometown crowd. It always helps when a competitor doesn't have to travel for a show; she'll have that as an advantage. She'll be one of, if not the, smallest competitor on stage.
Lexi continually improved her stage presence and her physique the last couple of years. Look for an even more improved physique in her debut.
Ahhh Nathalia. What are the judges going to do with Nat? If it were up to fans they'd say put her in first. Nathalia has what many competitors will never have: a natural ability to take the stage and rock it.
Nathalia brings the sexy and when she turns to the back, that's where the judges have taken issue. She has a Brazilian booty; no, she really is from Brazil! If it's in check she'll be your winner, if not the she'll fight for a top spot. I think it will be in check and she'll be the champ on Saturday night.
Justine is one of the few blondes in the competition and it could help set her apart (as silly as it may sound). She'll have to bring back the look she brought to the stage in her pro. She had some issues with her tan and being comfortable on stage.
The lone representative of Canada, she'll look to do our friends to the North proud. She looks to improve on her 10th-place finish at the Olympia and definitely could here.
Nicole finished in first place in every single show she entered, but one. She finished third in her first Olympia appearance, but won three consecutive shows, including the 2011 Arnold and Olympia!
Nicole is the "cutesy" bikini competitor. She's not old enough to have a celebratory drink after the show and it's hard not to like her energy on stage. It's a matter of what the judges want to reward at this show. If they want cute then she's your repeat champ. If they are looking for sexy then she'll be out of the top spot.
India "Lil Po-po" has been on fire lately. This Florida police officer put together her best look to date at the 2011 Olympia and finished 6th. She followed that up with two consecutive wins and will gun for number three this weekend.
I like her chances at a top spot here and see her finishing in the top 5. She has a move at the end of her posing where she pops her hip and I swear one day she will pop her hip out of place from the "tick-tock" move. Watch for it and you'll see what I mean.
It's been nearly a year since we last saw Jess on the bikini stage. She had a highly-publicized (in the fitness world) break up from her bodybuilder husband. Now that it is behind her look, for a new woman on stage.
Jess will have the Columbus crowd behind her and if she can bring a tight booty to the stage she'll be in the mix. She finished fourth at this show last year and will look to be in the hunt again. As long as Mary J Blige isn't playing when she takes the stage, she'll be all smiles. Welcome back Jess!
Natalie Pennington gets some love from the judges at the smaller shows, but when it comes to the big dance she's out of the top 10. She looks like a contender from the front but lacks the booty when she poses from behind.
If she's brought up the glutes she'll move into the top 10, but if she brings the look we've see in the past she'll struggle to contend. She's coming off a 3rd-place finish at the 2011 Sacramento Pro.
Monique was preparing for the 2011 Bikini International but had to withdraw when she found out she was pregnant with her first child. This will be Momo's comeback show and her first time on stage since the 2010 Olympia. She took 8th at the Olympia and will look to position herself as a top contender once again.
Monique is one of the taller competitors on stage and successfully made the transition from Figure. If she can bring a tight lower half she could be in the hunt. No matter where she finishes, she'll inspire moms across the world to work out.
Tianna is coming off a top 3 finish and will look to continue her winning ways. She was second at the Florida Pro in December, but will face a much tougher line-up here.
She struggles to bring a balanced physique to the stage. Many times she will be super lean in the abs and in her upper body, but soft in the lower body and glutes. If she can bring a balanced physique and not have the shakes on stage, she'll hold her own.
Vargas took a gamble and entered the Phoenix Pro last week and finished 4th. People say you're only as good as your last show and she'll look to make improvements from her last show.
She closed out 2011 with her first pro win at the Houston Pro and will look to return to the top spots here. If she can tighten-up in the lower body she'll have a chance to contend for a top spot.
- Nathalia Melo
- Nicole Nagrani
- Jaime Baird
- India Paulino
- Juliana Daniell
- Jessica Paxson
Prejudging takes place at 2 p.m. with the finals at 7 p.m. Saturday night. For tickets, visit ArnoldSportsFestival.com and if you can't make it be sure to tune in to the live, free Arnold Webcast right here on Bodybuilding.com.