The Ninth Annual Joe Weider's Masters Mr. Olympia

Held in Charlotte, North Carolina with the 2003 Jan Tana Classic
August 15, 2003 (Prejudging)
August 16, 2003 (Evening Show)

The annual summer showcase for IFBB men over age 40 was part of a three-day series of competitions for professional and amateur bodybuilders.  The Masters Olympia is the last show of the year offering a contest winner the chance to compete in the upcoming Mr. Olympia, so it's a desirable show to appear in.  Twenty-seven men travelled around the globe to be in the Masters O this year; ten had done the 2002 show, so plenty of new competitors were on display.  This show lets foreign pros little known in the US appear before an American crowd, and it's exciting to see them.  (Some of the foreign BBs have moved to the US, and were listed as "US" even though they're not American citizens.)

Jan Tana always puts on a fun show.  This year's theme was "Go Beach'n."  The stage in the beautiful Belk Theatre -- part of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center -- had palm trees and a cabana on it, with a few beach chairs strewn about.  The decor created a "sun and sand" mood without dominating the proceedings.  The addition of a new IFBB pro figure division for women this year caused the promoters to split the pro competition into two parts for both the prejudging and evening show; the Masters Olympia was paired with the pro fitness women, while the pro women's bodybuilding and pro figure shows were a separate event.  Few fans care equally about both men's and women's shows, so half the attendees were bored while the part of the show they hadn't come to see went on.  That's the way it has to be, though.  The Masters Olympia can't support a separate show, and its affiliation with the Jan Tana Classic makes it possible to stage.


Judging on Friday evening started about 15 minutes late at 8:20, but was efficient and businesslike after that.  The 28 fitness women went first, and men's judging began at 9:06.  There were two rounds in the prejudging, with several activities in round one.  The masters men were first brought out in groups of four or five, in the order matching the numbered tags on their posing suits, till all 27 men had appeared.  The most difficult foreign names the head judge (Jim Rockell) didn't even try to pronounce, using first names for those men.  Quarter turns established who they would later be compared with: those at the front, middle or rear of the pack.  Initial impressions are hard to shake, even if someone comes back the next night in better condition (as a few did).  The audience hunkered down to get a good look at the competition, with fans shouting out instructions and support to their guys in the lineup.



Initial lineup: Mihailescu, Samimi, Audi


Mihailescu, Samimi, Audi

Initial lineup: Menig, Dwyer, Giurgi, Apperson

Initial lineup: Menig, Dwyer, Giurgi

Initial lineup: Diaz, Marquez, Stewart

The first round continued as all competitors came out and spread across two long tiered risers.  With 27 beefed-out men onstage, it looked full.  Orchestra members bring their instruments onto this stage in concert season, but their bodies were these men's instruments.  Some were in the best shape of their lives.

Marquez looks at Stewart and Groulx, who are in 1st comparison callout

Callouts for quarter-turn comparisons began, with early rounds going to the men the judges took most seriously.  Often the men called out were asked to change positions, so each could be judged in relation to the others.  In some callouts, one or two were replaced while the others stayed in front; other times, a new slate of names were announced, or one was added.  Here are the ten callouts in this round (far fewer than the 22 used at last year's show):

1) Groulx, Hawk, Stewart, Stafford
2) Hawk, Stafford, Stewart, Bistocchi, Turmon
3) Hawk, Bistocchi, Turmon, Marquez, Menig
4) Baccianini, Audi, Palumbo, Marshall, Dwyer
5) Giurgi, Apperson, Grosso, Samimy
6) Rac, Brown, Mihailescu, Pedone
7) Delczeg, Frydrych, Jones, Diaz, Leonard, Cironte
8) Groulx, Stafford, Stewart
9) Stafford, Stewart, Turmon
10) Stafford, Stewart, Turmon, Hawk


Stewart, Turmon, Hawk

Fourth comparison callout: Audi, Baccianini, Palumbo, Marshall

Fifth comparison callout: Giurgi, Apperson, Grosso, Samimi

Sixth comparison callout: Pedone, Mihailescu, Rac, Brown
Click for large image.


Seventh comparison callout: Diaz, Jones, Delczeg, Frydrych
Click for large image.
  Eighth comparison callout:
Stafford, Groulx, Stewart. Click for large image.

Stafford, Groulx, Stewart


Mandatory poses completed the first round.  Here, the men came out in twos (except for the first group, which had three) and did a series of set poses: front lat spread, front double bicep, side chest, back double bicep, back lat spread, side tricep, abs/thighs (with hands behind the head). Their original  order determined the groups (1/2/3, 4/5, 6/7, etc.).  It was easier to notice differences of build by going two at a time.  I got my best sense of the competitors during this part of the prejudging.  While they're not supposed to be doing posedowns here, sometimes one started trying to show up the other, who would react in turn.  The last pair to go was Marquez and Stewart, who bounced around each other till the judge asked, "You guys dancing or what?"


First round mandatory posing:
Bistocchi, Rac, Marshall,
Click for large image.


Brown, Grosso (side tricep)   Palumbo, Mihailescu (side tricep)

Palumbo, Mihailescu (relaxed)

Pedone, Leonard (side chest)
Baccianini, Cironte (abdominals and thighs)

Menig, Dwyer (front double bicep)

Menig, Dwyer (between poses)

Menig, Dwyer (side tricep)
Click for large image.

Mike Emery
September 2003

Prejudging, Page 2

to: Evening Show