Following a quiet 2009, Melvin Anthony started the new year off on the right foot by winning the Phoenix Pro on Saturday night. The California native edged out Hidetada Yamagishi, who continues to make strides in the division by finishing as the runner-up. The ageless Toney Freeman placed third and also qualified for the Mr. Olympia.
Rounding out the top five were Grigori Atoyan and Troy Alves.
Competing twice last year, Anthony fourth at the Atlantic City Pro and 11th at the Olympia. This was in stark contrast from 2008, when he hit the stage on five occasions with all being top 10, and top six in four of the contests.
In the 202 division, Roc Shabazz stood in the winner’s circle and was followed by Ahmad Ahmad, Bola Ojex, Rod Ketchens and Eric Catagnet. As far as women’s bodybuilding goes, the steady Yaxeni Oriquen was named the winner, with Betty Pariso finishing next. Zoa Lindsey (3rd), Jeannie Paparoni (4th) and Dena Westerfield (5th) followed. In the figure division, Mindi Smith was named the winner and was followed by Amy O’Neil, Rosa Maris, Felicia Romero and Jodie Minear. In the fitness category, Julie Palmer placed first, with Tanji Johnson second, Camala Rodriguez third, Oksana Grishina fourth and Brigette Ward fifth.
Just around the corner on March 5 and 6 will be the Arnold Classic, always a huge test for the top competitors in the different categories. Just who decides to come to Columbus, Ohio or concentrate on the Olympia will be interesting in itself, let alone the actual competitions.