Contest Report on Joe Weider's Masters Mr. Olympia 2000
Held at the Roanoke, Virginia, Civic Center, 15 July 2000
Promoted by Jan Tana and David Puzzo
This was the sixth Masters Olympia show (the first was in 1994, and in 1998 none was held), and the second time it was held in conjunction with the Jan Tana Classic. The Jan Tana is a pro women's show (two separate ones combined for bodybuilders and fitness competitors), and that was the main draw here. All the above events are IFBB sanctioned. In addition, an amateur NPC national qualifier was held for women's fitness, women's bodybuilding, and men's bodybuilding. Needless to say, scheduling was a problem this weekend. Most bodybuilding prejudging and finals do not start on time, and with so many shows running back to back, delays were worse than usual. The Masters Olympia prejudging, scheduled for noon, began at one p.m. (A seminar with Gunter Schlierkamp set to start at eleven was rescheduled in a different part of the building, or the delay would have been worse.) The evening show, which put the Masters Olympia last, was scheduled to begin at seven p.m. Again, it started almost an hour late. The Masters Olympia started at eleven p.m., running well past midnight. Some walked out midway through in exhaustion. Only the hardcore crowd remained to cheer on their heroes of yesteryear, as well as a number of new faces. Still, we're lucky the show was held at all; it was cancelled for lack of ticket sales in 1998, and only by running it in conjunction with another show was it made possible at all.
Other than scheduling and logistics, the Masters Olympia did not disappoint. Most of the competitors were in shape, and several faces (and bodies) new to the American competitive stage made it worthwhile. The Roanoke Civic Center was quite nice, Jan Tana set a positive tone (she has a lot of style), and Tim Wilkins, (http://www.timwilkins.com/) an excellent comedian MC, kept everyone amused during the frequent delays inherent in a complicated judging procedure.
Vince Taylor won this show the last three times, and he easily won this year as well. He had an impressive posing routine, complete with his own sound effects (when he hit poses he made explosive noises that sounded like a rocket taking off; it was easier to hear during prejudging, since music wasn't blaring). Taylor is always "on"; he turns even compulsory lineups into posedowns, in fact.
Perhaps most popular with the audience was Flavio Baccianini, the short (4'10") Italian wonder who blows his opponents away with sheer chutzpah. He did a dynamite routine in the finals to a song whose refrain runs, "I'm not your boy toy," bringing the house down. It was outrageous fun, well beyond what anyone else did that night other than the flashier fitness women. He got second overall, though everyone outsized him. He baited Taylor in the lineups, his antics successfully drawing attention back to him. I didn't think he belonged in the top five, but he had charisma, and the judges and audience loved him.
Robbie Robinson won the first of these shows in '94, and won the over-50 category in the fourth show and this one (with no over-50 category last year, no one could win it). He came in third overall in this show. Robinson is the only competitor who has appeared in all six Masters Olympias; he's the bodybuilder veteran of veterans. I thought he was off, but the judges disagreed -- and he retains his panache, if not his arms.
Fourth in this show was Hans Hopstaken, who qualified for it by winning the Masters Nationals last year in Pittsburgh. Hopstaken is a monster. Totally bald, with huge pecs, beyond-belief abs, and the most freakiness anyone showed that night, he deserved a higher place than he got. Still, fourth is not bad for your first pro masters showing. Dutch-born and growing up in Australia, Hopstaken is now an American citizen.
Jim Quinn came out of retirement (he's a personal trainer in New York) to compete here, and it was great to see him. A tall, immense man, he had knockout legs and arms. He deserved a higher place than fifth, and the fans freaked over him -- booing when his place was announced.
Hungarian Nicolae Giurgi took sixth, and should have a following in the U.S. if he competes here more often. Big everywhere, especially in the torso, he has rounded pecs and sharp vascularity. Playing the Incredible Hulk, he would not need a bodysuit, just paint. I liked him.
My personal favorite in this show was Aivars Visockis, a Latvian who doesn't know English. He had poses demonstrated for him by stage managers when the judges called for them in prejudging. With a terrific look, he won seventh overall (I would have given him much higher, but that's just me). His evening routine, done to Latvian music, was superb. Visockis has been competing in pro shows in Europe, doing best in the '99 NABBA World Championships, where he got second in the masters division. I want to see a lot more of him in competition.
Scott Wilson came in eighth. He doesn't have the size he once did, although he did have good cuts and posed well. He competed twice before in the Masters Olympia -- in the first and fifth shows -- so he's serious about it. His ranking this year is the highest he's gotten in any of them. The crowd remembered him and cheered him on.
Romanian Emeric Delczeg, now living in California, got ninth. He came in in excellent shape, and I would have placed him higher. He's competed in every one of these shows from the third on, getting his best ranking (seventh) at the fourth show. Unlike some competitive male bodybuilders, he projects a distinct personality as he poses. It was great to see him in person.
Well-known Danny Padilla took tenth place, and it was a stretch. Never very big to begin with, Padilla didn't come in with cuts. He competed in the first of these shows in '94, when he took seventh. He dedicated his routine to Ed Corney, who competed in the first four of these shows before health troubles sidelined his training. The crowd did cheer for Padilla, and cheered at Corney's name.
The closest to a male fitness competitor here was Lee Apperson, who went pro by winning the Masters Nationals in '98. Tall and lean, Apperson isn't freaky. I liked his beefier look a few years ago; he's more like a model now. The Fox Sports cameras, which constantly interfered with the audience's view, were all over him for his entire routine, and he played to them. It was difficult to see him, in fact -- not that I missed much. He took eleventh.
More to my taste was Renato Somenzi, who operates out of Sweden (but obviously isn't Swedish). Winner of the Masters Nationals in '93, he was new to me. Concerned about projecting a fine routine, he backed the obnoxious Fox cameraman away from him so we could see him, and the audience cheered. He got twelfth, which was about right.
German Guido Conrad is a big, cut, imposing muscle guy, solid everywhere. He was yet another great European competitor new to me at this show. Not established in the U.S., he should be much better known here. I was glad to see who he was.
The biggest disappointment of the night was that Stan Frydrych, a Pole who appeared in this show last year, didn't go higher than fourteenth. A huge guy with fantastic arms and abs, Frydrych was a revelation and I led the cheering for him. His muscularity was superior to most onstage. If anyone deserved to deliver the "I wuz robbed" speech that Lou Ferrigno gave after losing to Robinson at the first of these shows, it was him.
Katsumi Ishimura, second only to Robinson in total Masters Olympias (doing all but the first one), got the over-60 award here. A man of small stature, he didn't have size but offered a good routine, and had incredible skin tone for his age. Overall, he took fifteenth.
It wasn't Honore Cironte's year, but he gave it all he had. A Spaniard from Las Islas Canarias, Cironte appeared here for his third straight show. With piratical facial hair and a pony tail, he looks exotic and plays on that. Winner of the over-60 award in the fourth show, he has brought up the rear in the last two (getting sixteenth here). He poses well, and he's a trouper.
Hopstaken Baccianini Cironte
Padilla, Delczeg, Visockis
Visockis, Giurgi, Quinn
Visockis, Giurgi, Quinn
For a review of the video to this show, see Gallasch Muscle Video A-1020.