The biggest news in the Bikini Olympia world is that of last year's top six, four will not return in 2013. The 2011 champ Nicole Nagrani has opted out to focus on her education, Dianna Dahlgren announced her retirement last year, Jaime Baird has decided not to compete, and Sonia Gonzales is expecting her first child. These vacancies leave the field wide open for a new group of excellent competitors to shine in the spotlight.
Unlike other divisions, it's been difficult for Bikini competitors to win the title more than once. Each year has brought with it a new champion. With such a large group of excellent physiques, you can be sure this year will be exciting.
Will the Brazilian beauty Nathalia Melo defy the odds and retain her crown? Or will a relative newcomer step up and give the current champ a run for her money? We'll find out when the women take the stage on September 27th!
The Competitors Qualifiers
Nathalia Melo, Brazil
Nathalia is one of the few women in this group who has competed in every Bikini Olympia. She's never finished out of the top five as a pro or amateur. Her lowest finish at the Olympia has been a pair of runner-up finishes before winning last year. Nathalia has the look, the stage presence, and for many people, is the ideal for the division: curvy, a little sassy, fun, and sexy.
Her poses aren't over-the-top and she's confident and natural on stage. Her only challenge is her Brazilian booty. While many women work to build a butt, she's trying to run it off. If Nathalia can come in with her upper body and lower body in perfect balance, she'll be the repeat champ.
India Paulino, USA
India has steadily moved up in the division. She earned sixth place at the 2011 Olympia and since then has never finished out of the top three. We can always count on India to wear her yellow bikini, her hair straight, and to perform her patented shimmy-shake-hip-pop-and-lock at the end of her individual posing.
If it's not broken, don't try to fix it, right? There's no arguing with that logic, and the Olympia stage is not the place for experimentation.
Yeshaira Robles, USA
Yeshaira is one of my favorite competitors simply because of her energy on and off stage. Like all of the women in this competition, she has a great physique, but she's one of the few women who has the cute-and-sexy thing down. She'll move up from her ninth-place finish at last year's Olympia. I would argue she belongs in the top five.
Michelle Brannan, U.K.
Michelle is one of the few blondes in the lineup, which will help her stand out from the get-go. She was the UK's first bikini pro, so she'll be looking to make her presence known. Although it's her first Olympia, she's coming off a second-place finish at the Nordic Pro. Michelle has the look; if she nails all the little details with her hair, tan, makeup, and suit, she'll contend.
Justine Munro, Canada
Justine will be competing in her third Bikini Olympia and has the potential to be a top finisher. As the proud owner of one of the best bums in the biz, she's gained more confidence on stage and performs without second-guessing herself.
She carries a bit more muscle than some of the other women, but it fits her frame well. Look for her to move up from her eighth-place finish last year. She fits the division.
Amanda Latona, USA
Amanda was in seventh last year. Unless she goes on a bender eating cupcakes and bon-bons between now and the Olympia, she'll be in the top five or even in the mix for the win. The only thing that holds Amanda back is herself. She often tries odd posing instead of sticking with what works.
She's a stunning woman, but like Melo, needs to keep her booty in check. She's also had missteps with her hair and makeup. If she nails her posing and all the little details, she'll be a contender for the top spot.
Vladimira Krasova, Czech Republic
Vladimira was the overall amateur bikini winner, which qualified her for the Olympia. She has exotic looks, but has yet to finish higher than 10th as a pro. Given the lineup and the competition she faces, it will be difficult for her to crack the top six.
Ashley LeBlanc, USA
Ashley took top honors at the Iowa Pro last year and the win qualified her for her first Olympia. It was a smart move on her part because most other competitors shut things down after the Olympia and focus on the following year's shows. Ashley has her work cut out for her, though.
She continues to improve her stage presence and not "over-pose," but will need a tighter lower half than the last time we saw her. This year, she earned sixth place at the Greater Gulf States and fifth in New York.
Stacey Alexander, USA
Stacey will be looking for redemption. She was in the dreaded tie for 16th place last year, but don't bet on her finishing that low in 2013. She has yet to finish out of the top three this year and has one victory under her bikini strings. Stacey will likely be in the top 10, but which spot depends on her posing and how she presents her physique.
Jennifer Andrews, USA
Jennifer tends to do well in smaller shows, but finds herself out of the mix in the big shows like the Arnold and Olympia. She placed 10th last year, which was an improvement from 16th in 2011. If she's able to bring a tight, toned lower half she'll be in the top 10 again. She already took top honors at the St. Louis Pro early this year. Jennifer's pageant background helps her on stage: a big smile and big hair to go with it.
Pollianna Moss, USA
Pollianna is one of the shorter competitors, but it doesn't seem to detract from what she shows on stage. She has a toned, muscular physique and a bubbly personality. She 's been a consistent top-6 finisher outside of last year's 13th place at the Olympia.
I like her look and overall package. She has a nice skin tone, a fair amount of muscle without, a good presentation. I would love to see her in the first couple of callouts.
Courtney King, USA
As the new kid on the block, Courtney will look to show everyone who's boss. She's one of the youngest competitors in the lineup—a refreshing change from the rest of the division. Courtney has long limbs and legs for days. Her biggest challenge will be coming in full and not looking too lean in her arms. She's improving her stage presence with each event.
If she convinces herself that she's going to rock it and stays relaxed, she will. At her debut Olympia, she has the potential to be in the top six.
Ashley Kaltwasser, USA
Ashley will enter the Olympia as the dark horse. She's relatively unknown despite having two pro victories to her credit. Ashley achieved IFBB Pro status at the 2012 Team Universe and debuted in fifth at the 2012 Houston Pro. She dipped a bit with a 10th-place finish at this year's Arnold but has since been on a roll.
Ashley finished second three times and took top honors twice since March. She has the ideal bikini physique: It's muscular but not too muscular, lean, and athletic. Look for Ashley to finish in the top spots.
Narmin Assria, USA
Narmin is one of the tiniest competitors in the show, but she's added a bit of size since last year. She placed 16th at last year's Olympia and if she can move up from that, it will be a win for her. She placed fifth at the Greater Gulf Pro, but does have a pro win to her credit this year. Narmin has fun on stage. If she brings her best, she could be in the top 10.
Candice Conroy, USA
Candice only has only two shows under her belt since achieving pro status at the NPC Nationals in 2012, but she's been in the top five each time. She's riding a wave of confidence into her Olympia debut. She won the Orange County Muscle Classic and will now test herself against the best of the best.
Anna Virmajoki, Finland
Anna will look to ride the winning wave into her first Olympia. She took top honors at the Nordic Pro and has her sights set on a top spot in Vegas. She has muscular legs and has the same challenge many in this lineup face of coming in too lean in her midsection and not lean enough in her lower body. If she can balance that, she'll be in the top-10 discussion.
Noemi Olah, Hungary
Noemi was the winner of the 2010 Arnold Amateur and made an immediate impact in her first pro show. She caught everyone sleeping and won the Detroit Pro and debuted at the Olympia shortly thereafter. Noemi was up and down in her placings since her debut, due largely to living in Hungary. She's since relocated to Tampa, Florida, which has allowed her to compete stateside and have more consistent training and less travel.
She recently won the Valenti Gold Cup and will look to shake things up at her second Olympia. Noemi is stunning. If she brings a tight, toned lower body, she'll be in the hunt.
The Competitors Point Qualifiers
Like the other divisions, the top five in the Olympia point series receive a ticket to the big show. The points were very close in the bikini division and it came down to the last show before we knew who was in and who was out. Lacey DeLuca topped the list and the other four women tied for the remaining spots.
Lacey DeLuca, USA
Lacey burst onto the pro scene in 2012 after winning the NPC Jr. Nationals. She finished in the top three her first four shows and closed out last year with a runner-up finish at the Pro World Bikini show. She debuted in 2013 with a 12th-place finish at the Arnold and followed it up with a 10th-place finish at the Europa Orlando.
She collected most of her points for this year's Olympia in the later part of 2012; her highest finish this year was fourth at the Pittsburgh Pro. Lacey's biggest challenge will be her lower body. She has bigger hips that most in the lineup, so how she poses can make or break her final placing.
Tiffany Marie Boydston, USA
Tiffany will be competing in her second Olympia and will look to improve upon last year's 12th-place finish. She has a pair of runner-up finishes this year and placed eighth at the Arnold. She's one of the smaller competitors and her conditioning is often hit-or-miss. If she brings a tighter physique and confidence to the stage, she can move into the top 10.
Jessica Arevalo, USA
Jessica is relentless. This will be her seventh show of the year and she's hoping it's her lucky number. She placed second behind Jennifer Andrews at the St. Louis show in March and has been up and down in her placings since then.
She's improved her stage presence. If she relaxes, smiles, and gives off positive energy, it will help her move up. Many times, whatever she's thinking comes across as a scowl on stage.
Tawna Eubanks, USA
Competing in her second Olympia, Tawna will look to improve from her 15th-place finish last year. Tawna has gained more confidence and added a bit more muscle to her frame since turning pro in 2011.
She'll come to the Olympia with back-to-back third-place finishes. Her blonde hair, big smile and beaming positive energy will be sure to capture fans' attention.
Gigi Amurao, USA
Gigi has been competing without much of a break all year. She kicked the year off with a fourth-place finish at the Battle on the Beach and has been on a roller coaster since then. She's placed as high as 3rd and as low as 11th this season.
Gigi's biggest challenge is bringing her muscular legs down so they don't overpower her upper body. If she's just the slightest bit off, her placings drop. She'll have her work cut out for her to crack the top 10, but persistence pays off.
Because the majority of last year's top six aren't returning, this year is one of opportunity. If everyone were on point and I were judge (which I'm not), this is how my card would read:
- Nathalia Melo
- Amanda Latona
- Justine Munro
- Ashley Kaltwasser
- Pollianna Moss
- Yeshaira Robles
However, based on previous placings and their competition history this year, the top six will more likely look something like this:
- Nathalia Melo
- India Paulino
- Amanda Latona
- Ashley Kaltwasser
- Courtney King
- Yeshaira Robles