2008 WNBF Worlds
November 14, 2009
As I set out to compete in the WNBF World Championships for the 4th consecutive year, my plan of attack remained the same as in previous years. I spent 6 months in "off-season" mode, seeking to add some size to the many weak points in my physique. This year, I made a concerted effort to train heavier in both the squat and deadlift, while incorporating additional recovery time across my training split. I gave myself 27 weeks to diet down into contest condition, with a focus on presenting the best physique I could in November.
The World Championships in New York once again attracted some great natural bodybuilders from across the globe. In total there were 40 pro men competing, and unlike in prior years the classes were split unevenly, with 12 men in the lightweights, 16 in the middleweights, and 12 in the heavyweights. The lightweight cutoff was 165 pounds, which was exactly where I weighed in. This year, my friend Kurt Weidner competed for the first time in the pro heavyweight class at Worlds. Fresh off of an overall win at the Pro U.S. Cup 7 weeks prior, I knew Kurt would be in fantastic shape and would challenge for a top spot. I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot with him the day before the contest and was extremely impressed by the conditioning and muscularity he achieved this year. There were a number of big names not competing at this year's event - namely Jim Cordova (2007 overall World Champion), Jon Harris (2006 Overall World Champion), Clement Yearwood (who came within a single point of beating me in 2008), and Rodney Helaire (the 2-time defending heavyweight champion). Nonetheless, I knew there would be plenty of excellent competition in all of the weight classes.
My own weight class was tough as ever, with Shaun Clarida and Wendell Webb in particular both displaying incredible physiques. Shaun looked as sharp as I had ever seen him, and Wendell's enormous quads did not look as though they belonged on a lightweight's frame. The always sharp Tony Ruffin, newcomer Mick Winzeler, and Will Riviera also looked very solid and complete.. Prejudging was extremely intense with a symmetry round lasting what seemed like 15 minutes before we even transitioned into the mandatory poses. Shaun, Wendell, and I shared the middle of the stage as the battle went on and I felt the class was between the three of us. I was completely exhausted by the time we finished - more so than in years past!
Although Cordova's name was notably missing from the middleweight class, the presence of World overall defending champ Brandon Greenwood, Clarence McGill, Shevon Cunningham, and newcomer Chris Scott once again made this class the most intimidating of all. Brandon looked just as sharp as last year, although perhaps a bit lighter in the legs. Clarence was looking to avenge a disappointing 4th place finish in 2008 (when he was admittedly off), and looked like the old Clarence I knew - incredible structure, great conditioning, and fantastic overall balance. Shevon once again impressed me with the amount of size he carries. His arms were easily the best in the class and his overall thickness was simply unmatched. The battle for the middleweight class was between these three.
In the heavies, Martin Daniels emerged as the early frontrunner with his amazing symmetry (I think his waist is smaller than mine and he outweighs me by 50 lbs) and gargantuan quads and arms. I felt that Kurt pushed hard for a top 3 spot with easily the best condition in the class, but the 2008 runner up LeRoy Perry again showed up in great shape with an improved back. Duane Ball and Robert Peacock also showed fantastic size and good shape but I felt were a bit soft to push for the title.
At the night show, I was hopeful I could repeat my class wins from the 2 prior years but knew I had solid competition pushing me. The results came in from the judges, with Mick Winzeler making a solid pro debut in 5th, the impressive Tony Ruffin defying age to come in 4th, and Wendell Webb (who I told looked the best I had seen him to date) earning 3rd with dramatically improved conditioning. As the callout came for 2nd place, I heard my own name and recognized that Shaun Clarida's excellent shape, structure, muscularity, and improved condition had earned him the 2009 LW World title. Shaun holds an incredible amount of muscle on his 5'3" frame, and I congratulated him on his victory.
The middleweight class was very tough to call, with the top 3 all having arguments to take the class. As the judges saw it, Shevon was in 3rd, the defending champ Brandon took 2nd, and Clarence was rewarded for his best physique to date with a middleweight class win. In the heavyweights, I felt Kurt was placed low in 4th, with Duane Ball in 3rd and LeRoy Perry taking 2nd for the second consecutive year. The size and symmetry of Martin Daniels was too much for this class to overcome, and his win was made all the more impressive by the fact that he prepped for it during a deployment to Iraq as part of his military commitment.
Watching the overall from the crowd, Shaun held his own with the symmetry of Clarence and the size of Martin. At first I thought Martin might have the best overall package, but he wasn't quite lean enough; and Shaun's improved condition was still not enough to challenge the always-sliced McGill. In the end, Clarence's overall physique was simply the best balance of size, shape, and condition, and he celebrated a hard-earned Overall World Title. Clarence is always a humble and easygoing person with a fantastic physique, and was a well deserving Overall winner this year. Congrats Clarence!