Reflections on the Arnold Classic Australia

 

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In the lead up to the 2016 rendition of the Arnold Classic Autralia, we asked some of our magazine contributors who were at 2015's debut to share their favourite moments and hopes for the future.

Darren Burns:
On all levels, the inaugural Arnold Classic Australia was an enormous success and full credit must go to promoter Tony Doherty and his team for working tirelessly to bring a multi-sports festival of this magnitude to fruition. Personally, the most memorable moment was seeing that pride and satisfaction in Tony’s face as Arnold received a standing ovation after being introduced to the capacity audience at the Arnold Classic Australia finals. It was the accumulation of a vision that was created over 20 years when Tony attended the 1992 Arnold Classic in Ohio. Also, having known Tony for many years and his relentless quest to raise the bar each year, I can’t wait to see what he has planned for 2016.

Another highlight was seeing Australia’s newest bodybuilding star, Josh Lenartowicz, mixing it with the world’s best. Towards the end of 2015, Josh showed tremendous improvements in taking out both the San Marino and Ferrigno Legacy shows and if he continues at this rate, he will certainly be in contention for the first call-out at the 2016 ACA. Speaking of the Ferrigno Legacy, another Australian pro, Luke Schembri, had been spending a lot of time with Craig Lucas on his posing in preparation for Lou’s show. However, due to time constraints, many of the pro bodybuilders were unable to perform their routines. So Luke’s supporters will be in for a treat as they witness the debut of his new routine.

Fiona Flanders:
The year 2015 seems to have passed in a blur and it’s almost March again. March means the Arnold Classic and this event really is one of my favourite times of the year. An intense few days of work and play and not a minute to spare. Here’s a few of my Arnold highlights:

  • I was squished against Arnold in the Iron Man booth during a media frenzy, so that gave me bragging rights for quite some time! I was fortunate to be at Arnold’s Q&A prior to the squishing incident and I was incredibly impressed by the man as opposed to the legend I had only read about or seen on the big screen. His message of ‘giving back’ surpassed anything else I heard during the weekend.
  • Meeting IFBB pro Ben Pakulski and seeing him on stage.
  • Cheering on Josh Lenartowicz with the rest of the Aussies in the crowd at the Pro show. Really looking forward to seeing him compete at the Arnold again after his pro  wins overseas.
  • There are not too many bodybuilders where I live (just the one actually), so catching up with people I have competed and travelled with is a real thrill. I feel as though I’m back with my tribe!
  • I sat next to Evan Centopani during the competitors’ meeting and was once again struck by what a lovely guy he is. It’s rumoured that he may be doing training sessions while he’s in Melbourne, so that is right up there on my list of things to do at the 2016 Arnolds.
  • Reporting on Milos Sarcev’s muscle camp was an amazing experience.
  • I spent some time with the fabulous Eliyan Lobez during the meet and greet and was thrilled to see her so competitive in a world-class line-up on stage.
  • Training at the iconic Doherty’s Gym is always a bonus of being in Melbourne.

My list of highlights is pretty comprehensive, so I don’t think I missed anything I really wanted to see this year. Tony Doherty runs such a slick event that the only change I would like personally, is a little more time to spare!

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Vance Ang:
Having been a journo in this sport now since 2005, I think it would be fair to say that none of us could have anticipated something of this magnitude occurring here in Australia and certainly not Melbourne. Therefore Tony’s announcement of the Arnold Classic Australia in March 2014 (at what would be the final FitX) heralded a new era in the sport and the debut in 2015 was like nothing we had ever seen. Last year’s event was further testimony to the brand strength and influence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, with thousands of adoring fans flocking to the event to catch a glimpse of this living legend. I was lucky to meet and have a photo taken with Arnold in 2013 at a separate event but replicating this opportunity at the Arnold Classic 2016 is, of course, a welcome prospect!

The scope of the event is something that cannot be underestimated nor understated; the range of sporting categories is so overwhelming, much like the event itself, and therefore at the 2016 incarnation I am hoping to check out more of the other sports. Being a former martial artist myself, I’d be keen to watch more of the demonstrations (which Arnold himself praised at his surprise visit to last year’s after party) and engage with experts in the field. However, with my journalistic expertise in bodybuilding and fitness, I am hoping to secure more time to speak with more of the American IFBB pros; with so much going on it is impossible to meet with all of the pros and attend all associated convention events — this year I am certainly going to try. It’d be truly fascinating to interview industry royalty such as IFBB President Rafael Sontoya or Bob Lorimer.

Besides Arnold himself, I am highly anticipating the Pro Show as it not only exhibits the most elite athletes in this sport, but also the event itself with its blockbuster quality and high production values, which sets itself apart as being the best bodybuilding and fitness event in the country today. Everything from the size and acoustics of the Plenary Hall, the pyrotechnics, the signature Tony Doherty delivery — it all culminates in this electrifying aura that fills the auditorium. Furthermore, being a pro event, the show is run in an exceptionally timely format — a quality world-class competition all wrapped in three hours!

From a personal perspective, the Arnold Classic Australia is almost akin to a reunion of sorts and catching up with various luminaries was one of the elements I enjoyed the most and something I’m eagerly anticipating again in 2016. Being greeted by some familiar faces or meeting some new ones, is all part of the collective excitement we experience in being part of such an event.  There are countless awesome experiences I was privy to at last year’s event but two notable experiences for me were the stunning Larissa Reis recognising me and also having a last minute interaction with the legendary Milos Sarcev at the Iron Man booth. Wow, just Wow.

It is difficult to know what to expect at the ACA 2016; however, whatever eventuates, we can be damn sure it will be bigger and better than last year’s. One could ask if this is even possible, but it is apparent that the Schwarzenegger-Doherty dynamic will yield something truly spectacular once again.

The Arnold Classic Australia will run from March 18 to March 20 2016. Register now or buy your tickets today.

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Photography by: Diep Nguyen