As part of the Olympia weekend, some would say an integral part, is the Ms. Olympia event to be held on Friday September 29 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. On show will be 12 high quality athletes, showing that despite contrary media reports, women's bodybuilding is far from dead.
Women's bodybuilding has had its share of controversy over recent years, with its premier event, the Olympia, being held in an expo hall in 2005, and the upsurge of interest shown by the athletes to gain size at all costs causing many, including the great Lenda Murray, to question the sports future.
The Olympia contest itself, however, is still plunging ahead with a strong base of talented athletes - as will be shown at this years Olympia - and sufficient fan support. Like the men's event, the 2006 Ms. Olympia will be one of the most hotly contested ever.
Reigning champion Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia will be looking to defend her title from 2004 Olympia champions Iris Kyle (heavyweight and overall) and Dayana Cadeau (lightweight class winner), while newcomer Jitka Harazimova is expected to spoil all three of these women's chances of capturing the top spot. Other athletes to watch for will be 2005 5th place-getter Brenda Raganot and fan favourite Bonny Priest.
The Top Six
With such a close field of competitors, predicting the top six is not an easy task. The firm favourite is Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia, but the other competitors will make it extremely hard for her.
1. Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia.
Yaxeni came from third at the 2004 Olympia to beat out that year's eventual winner Iris Kyle for first place at the 2005 event. As the reigning champion, the Venezuelan will be hoping to defend her title this year against some very strong competition, including Iris, who will be wanting some redemption.
As one of the more muscular female competitors, Yaxeni has no problem attracting the judge's attention on stage, especially given her adequate size is combined with great symmetry and lines.
Many are saying if Yaxeni can maintain her conditioning from year to year, while continuing to make gains in muscle, her grasp on the Olympia title could be indefinite. She is likely to win this year, but will be pursued closely by the second best female bodybuilder in the world: Iris Kyle.
2. Iris Kyle.
A competitive bodybuilder for over 12 years, Iris Kyle has the experience necessary to take out a title as prestigious as the Olympia, if she can put it all together. Indeed, her record as an Olympia competitor is an impressive one: a heavyweight class win in 2001, second to Lenda Murray in 2002 and 2003, and winner in 2004.
Smaller in size compared to Yaxeni, Iris will be relying on her great aesthetics and ripped conditioning if she hopes to win.
3. Dayana Cadeau.
Dayana is known for her feminine, yet stunningly muscular physique. It is expected she will compete approximately 20-30lbs lighter than Yaxeni, so size will not be her forte come September 29. Dayana will, however, bring one of the more complete packages, with cuts and proportion to spare.
A 2004 Ms. Olympia lightweight winner, and 2005 third place finisher, Dayana is always a favourite to challenge for the top places. She will certainly cause Iris and Yaxeni a few headaches with her definite top-three physique.
4. Jitka Harazimova.
Having placed fourth at last years Olympia, and possessing a physique reminiscent of Corry Everson with its nicely flowing lines and great shape, the Czech Republic's Jitka Harazimova is well positioned to achieve at least fourth place at this years event. If she shows improvements in overall size and conditioning, she might even sneak into third or second, such is her potential.
Many are saying that considering her beauty and aesthetic, yet muscular physique, Jitka will be the modern face of women's bodybuilding very soon. This could very well be her year to break through.
5. Brenda Raganot.
With a fifth place finish at last years Olympia, and wins in the lightweight division of the 2000 and 2005 Ms. International contest, Brenda has shown she is one of women bodybuilding's top stars. She has a great chance of placing in the top six at the 2006 Olympia based on her high level of muscularity and classic X-frame physique. Of Filipino descent, Brenda has the small bone structure that accentuates her full muscle development and great symmetry (15.5 inch calves and arms, with a tiny 26 inch waist). With these qualities, if Brenda can bring her A-game she should place fifth.
6. Bonnie Priest.
Bonnie, "The Texas Titan," Priest is another very large female bodybuilder usually competing at around 160lbs at a height of 5.5. She possesses a very densely muscled physique due in part to a career in power lifting, which has seen her bench press 352bls for an American record. Look for her to stun the crowds with her size to take sixth place at the 2006 Ms. Olympia.