The Olympia weekend has had a few surprises for sure.
Let’s take a loosky at what went down this weekend in the Bikini and Figure competition as I share my personal thoughts. I have to add that even though I have my favorites, I try to write an unbiased analysis from what I have come to know about the physique competition organization I have participated in for over a decade.
The big shocker:
One of the biggest upsets was the dethroning of former Bikini Olympia Champ Ashley Kaltwasser to Courtney King. Not only that, but she finished outside of the top 3 in 4th place.
If you’ve ever met Ashley and follow her social media, you’d notice that she has been branding herself outside of the competitive bodybuilding industry. Shortly after ending her contract with supplement giant Gaspari Nutrition and signing with EHP Labs, her status as a fitness social influencer has grown tremendously. Not sure if Ashley always lived in LA, but her relocation has allowed her to make her mark by starring in several short skits with very well-known Instagram/Vine comedians most of whom are based in Los Angeles.
Ashley strikes me as someone who makes strategic moves. Maybe she knew this year would be difficult for her to defend her title while branding herself but rest assure that if she puts her mind to it, she will return next year and reclaim her Bikini Olympia title. Her physique is simply outstanding but unfortunately we did not see the best of her this time around.
My personal preference for the Bikini Olympia title, knowing that Ashley did not bring her best, would have been India Paulino.
India has the bikini body type that some either love or dislike. I wasn’t a fan UNTIL I witnessed her up close work the stage at the Arnold this year. I was blown away. She’s truly amazing, and when she’s on, she’s on. The only disadvantage India has could be her petite, narrow figure, but she makes up for it with the rest of what she brings, sass and all.
Courtney King is a beautiful woman who seems to be gaining that little extra something and that sex appeal as she gets older and grows into the sport. While she has improved her physique, I am pretty sure I wasn’t the only one shocked by her win. I am sure the judging panel had a tough time choosing the winner as Ashley left the field wide open. Courtney displayed all the elements needed to win the title – beauty, a balanced physique not overly muscular yet sporty, curvy, and spot on presentation including beautiful hair, makeup and tanning color.
Stacey Alexander looked beautiful! I also love how nicely shaped her glutes are. I was surprised to not see her crack the top 5.
Marcia Goncalves was another bikini O contender that brought it with that wow factor. Did you guys see her mid-section and that sexy face? I can see her doing some serious damage next year if she keeps bringing that incredible physique and condition.
Latorya Watts, Candice Lewis and Cydney Gillion were outstanding. There are just no words to describe their shape, especially their ridiculously small waist lines. Seriously. WTF!!! Cyd’s waistline was the most impressive of them all.
Let’s talk about Latorya for a minute. Following her social media makes me nervous. I always wonder – will she be ready? Will she show up in shape? I have written this before and I will say it again – Latorya never ceases to amaze me. It’s not until you see her come out, walk to the center of the stage, and watch her pose, that everything on her body begins to flare out. It’s beautiful to watch – all her lines and muscles begin to feather out. It’s like watching the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Latorya will be very difficult to beat and I do not foresee this happening any time soon.
Nicole Wilkins did look good, we cannot deny this, it is just that her structure when standing in the lineup with the top 3 did not have that X frame and wow factor. In fact, her waist seemed to have widened a bit from the time she was crowned Ms. Figure O.
Swann Delarosa – while having had a few top 5 spots and a recent win at the Toronto Pro, came in probably in one of the best shapes I’ve ever seen. Swann has the ability to get really lean, which in turns compromises the the amount of muscle she’s able to keep. Not this time – her shoulders were beautifully capped and full, abs were popping, and legs were nice and lean. Her presentation was also spot on. This formula makes Swann an even more lethal contender in the years to come.
The elephant in the room: It’s okay to talk about it.
I am not going to waste your time or mine. Simply put, the judges got it right. I’m a huge fan of the Figure division and have followed since its inception. This lineup was probably one of the most competitive I have seen in some years.
But let’s talk about the obvious – the fact that 3 stunning and hardworking Black women athletes snagged the top 3 spots. I don’t understand why people don’t want to talk about this. It IS a big deal for Black women and for communities of color who admire fitness and want to compete. It IS totally okay to embrace and discuss this great achievement for many reasons without feeling some type of way about it. Denying that race is not present, that it doesn’t matter, that you don’t see it, makes no sense. You are essentially denying the very obvious.
When people are socialized to define standards of beauty from a Eurocentric standpoint, it is very difficult for Black female athletes who do not fit within that standard to find success especially in an industry as subjective as ours is. While it is true that we are being judged on our physiques, it is also true that beauty is taken into consideration. And when you are being judged by judges (mostly white male) and what they consider beautiful, Black women are not exactly where their eyes gravitate toward. In addition to this, the Black women who are considered “attractive” are also considered “exotic” looking (as in, not your ” typical” Black features). I am writing this to acknowledge that this prejudice does exist and that it is not anyone’s fault…we all have our own prejudices due to our socialization and our own need to fit into the larger society. But we do have to be honest with ourselves and conscious about the prejudices that do exist in us.
I do hope that those who find offense to the celebration of Latorya Watts being the first Black woman to win the Figure Olympia (and Figure International) title, followed by this year’s top 3 wins by Black women, understand that this IS a big deal for reasons most rather ignore. No need to be bitter that your team did not win this time…your team has been winning for years! These women looked amazing and there’s no need to discredit their hard earned placings just because they’re not your “cup of tea”.
Now let’s hope these 3 ladies get the publicity and sponsorship deals they deserve…all of them, not just the ones who fit the exotic fantasizing ideal most black women are subjected to meet.
Congratulations to all the beautiful ladies who stepped on the Olympia stage. This is certainly one of the greatest and ultimate achievements for anyone who competes. You are all winners by having earned your qualifications to compete among the best in the world!
( I will stop now).