This year's Toronto show was dominated by tomorrow's bodybuilding legends, and they were in full force. With an impressive lineup including such rising stars as Darrem Charles, Johnnie Jackson, Tommi Thorvildsen, Art Atwood and Scott Milne, the youthful energy of this resurrected professional bout could be felt in the air. And with a top prize of $20,000 going to the winner, and an Olympia qualifier going to the top three placing athletes, it was no wonder.
The past two years have been difficult for the Toronto show. Funding difficulties and the SARS epidemic had all but made the show impossible to sell. But under a new promoter, the athletes were ready to entertain the fans. And entertain they did.
It was clear from one look at the diverse lineup of athletes and sponsors that the contest quality was high. The new promoters Winston Roberts and Robert Attieh brought in an impressive lineup of key sponsors including Prolab, Interactive Nutrition, MRM, MuscleMag International, Flex Magazine, Dymatize Nutrition, GNC, Ultimate Nutrition, MuscleTech, and Muscular Development.
The list of competitors was even more impressive. Here is a listing:
- Darrem Charles - Trinidad
- Johnnie O. Jackson - USA
- Art Atwood - USA
- Pavel Jablonicky - Czech Republic
- Tommi Thorvildsen - Norway
- Jeff Long - USA
- Heiko Kallbach - Germany
- Rodney St. Cloud - USA
- Henderson Thorne - Canada
- Greg Rando - USA
- Mike Morris - USA
- Reza Amin Torabi - Canada
- Christian Lobarede - Chile
- Scott Milne - Canada
- Rigoberto - Yarzaguray
- Eric Otero - Italy
- Rudy Soliman - Canada
- Nelson Dasilva - Canada
- Fedel Clarke - Canada
- Frank McGrath - Canada
- Alexander Vishnevsky - Russia
- Gian Enrico Pico - Italy
- Jaroslav Horvath - Hungary
- Wong Hong - Singapore
The diverse lineup of sponsors and athletes can be attributed to the hard work of promoters Winston Roberts and Robert Attieh. Winston and Robert are consummate professionals - nice guy's in an industry of a fractured egos and self-interest.
Their professional efforts and attention to detail made this show go smoothly, and ensured that the return of the Toronto show was something to be remembered.
As I Saw It
For more photos go to http://www.flexonline.com.
6th - Iheiko Kallbach
Massive. Ripped. These are the words to describe the man known as "the Berlin Wall." When he first stepped onto stage, I was taken aback by his sheer size and muscularity. In the evening show, I was emotionally moved by his selection of music. The music was an epic piece - a piece that made the audience think that an epoc had gone into making the physique that he presented. Kallbachs physique and posing routine were glorious, and he received much deserved applause from the audience.
However, several things held him back from a higher placing. The first of these was his abdominal distention. He appeared to have difficulty holding poses and bringing in his waist. At one point it was obvious that his abdominals were protruding farther than his chest! Also of note was the obvious use of synthol, particularly in the biceps. I was not the only one to notice this, as a well-known professional and I had a front-row conversation about Kallbachs obvious use of synthol.
Despite the positives he presented, he did not deserve a 6th place finish. I would place him in 12th place, following Jeff Long.
7th - Tommi Thorvildsen
Tommi Thorvildsen came to Toronto armed with more than his trademark smile and shredded glutes. He came determined to win a top spot and a trip to the Olympia. Unfortunately, things didn't work out as he had expected, but it was not for lack of trying. As the other competitors were being called out, Tommi was hitting poses at the side of the stage, and smiling to let the crowd and judges know that he was having a great time. For the fans that came to see Tommi's trademark glutes, he did not disappoint. His glutes, and indeed his whole body, was shredded to the max. His showmanship was second to none.
Unlike other competitors who came out and would hit one or two poses and then walk off of the stage, Tommi wanted all of the stage time he could get.
His biggest weak spot was his relatively underdeveloped chest. If he wants to improve his placings, he is going to have to bring this area of his physique up to par. Overall, excellent showmanship, excellent music, and an appropriate placing.
8th - Mike Morris
From head to toe, Mike Morris had an amazing tan, which is more than can be said for some of the other competitors. While some gynecomastia and abdominal distention were evident, Morris had impressive quadricep development, and a great posing routine. His finish was well earned.
9th - Henderson Thorne
As Henderson took center stage, the crowd erupted in applause. Henderson has always been Toronto's hometown favorite. In my view he looked great, but not good enough to finish higher than 9th in this show. He suffered from a mild case of gynecomastia, but he was not alone on this as several other competitors had the same condition. His posing routine was entertaining, his musculature impressive, but he failed to stand out in my mind. Henderson was only well known to me because I have followed his career in times past.
10th - Reza Amin Torabi
Reza was big and had great quadricep and back development, but his biceps lacked height and were somewhat overshadowed by his tricep development. He did well at presenting his physique, but his selection of music left something to be desired, and his lack of emotion on stage was evident. His presence was too stoic, and indeed unforgettable, to warrant a higher placing.
11th - Jeff "Box" Long
As always, Jeff Long brought an aesthetically pleasing physique to the stage, with wide shoulders and an exceptionally tiny waist. His posing music was excellent, and he got up close and personal with the audience by leaving the stage and interacting with the fans in the first couple of rows.
However, Jeff was hampered by his lack of overall size in relation to the other competitors, as well as his difficulty at holding the mandatory poses. I had front row tickets and behind me Long's entourage had to keep reminding him to "keep it tight, box." Perhaps he was cramping on stage, or perhaps he lacked endurance. In either case, I am sure that the judges did not appreciate the constant reminders during the show.
12th - Frank McGrath
With huge forearms, well-developed pectorals, and a massive upper body, the young Frank McGrath came to impress. McGraths waist to shoulder ratio was excellent. His upper body is more developed than his lower body, but he has plenty of time to work on correcting any minor imbalances that exist. He was out to prove himself, and he succeeded. I feel that he deserved a higher placing.
13th - Wong Hong
It was nice to see Wong Hong competing in this event. Hong brought a stoic presence to the show, but it was not stoicism borne from indifference or apathy - it was the stoicism of clear focus of mind, brought by determination and purpose. His posing routine was well done, and he entertained the crowd with his energy.
The most impressive feature of Hongs physique was his incredible quadriceps development. In my view, Hong had the most developed set of pins on stage that night!
While Hong may not have been the largest competitor on stage, he sure has one of the largest hearts. He and I had lunch together after the prejudging, and his sense of humor and enthusiasm for the lifestyle are second to none. His placing was well earned, and if he keeps on top of his game he will place better in the future. He is young and full of energy and potential.
14th - Eric Otero
In my view, Eric looked better than Art Atwood. Although his midsection looked similar, and his quadriceps were similar, he was holding much less water than Art. Overall he lacked Arts size, but he certainly beat Art in symmetry and overall conditioning. His music and posing routine were also much better. Unlike Art, Otero was hitting shot after shot, to give the fans their moneys worth.
15th - Nelson DaSilva
Nelson DaSilva (15th) - Nelsons physique was aesthetically pleasing, but not outstanding. His music was good and his posing routine entertaining. His placing was well earned.
16th - Oliver Adzievski
Not much can be said about this placing as I think it was well deserved. Although armed with a formidable upper body, Adzievski could have used more posing oil, and better lower body development. If he wants to place higher in the future, he has a lot of work to do.
For more info on the show, click here.
For more photos go to http://www.flexonline.com.
Highlights Of The Show
A new feature brought to the Toronto show this year was "The Great Canadian Posedown." This event encouraged audience members (men and women) to pose against one another on stage - with a cool $500 U.S. going to the winner! This never before done event brought the house down, and the audience participation was fierce but friendly.
Guest poser Scott Abel rocked the house as usual with an awesome posing routine based on the Chucky movie series. His physique was outstanding and he was full of energy.
| But perhaps the biggest highlight of the night was competitor Greg Rando. Although he placed 17th in the contest, Greg placed first in the hearts of everyone. It is one thing for a competitor to work hard and to bring a complete package when he or she has the deck stacked in their favor - but Greg is visually impaired.
Despite his condition, or perhaps in spite of it, Greg brought a powerful presence to the Toronto show. I would go so far as to say that (if I actually had to pay for tickets) I would pay to see him compete in a contest. Greg is an ambassador for the lifestyle, and an example and inspiration for us all.
He is a reminder of the brotherhood that we all share - the common bond - to overcome all barriers through bodybuilding, and to experience the riches it brings.
Greg Rando at the 2004 Night Of Champions.
Darrem Charles may have won first place, but Greg was the most inspirational person in the building that night. He was the peoples champion.
All in all, the Toronto show was not bad - not bad at all. It was professionally done, successful in its outcome, and everyone had a great time. Look for events by Winston Roberts and Robert Attieh in the future - their innovative ideas are bringing much-needed life back into the bodybuilding world.
Check out Dan Solomon's latest article, Darrem Charles: From Rising Star To Superstar for more info on Darrem.
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