Yesterday, J.M. Manion released the breakdown of the of number of competitors for this year's Jr. USAs. 241 female competitors are expected to compete in this weekend's contest.
7 Female Bodybuilders
48 Women’s Physique
There will be seven pro cards to be awarded this weekend. They will be awarded to the overall fitness winner, 2 to the top figure overall winners, and 2 to the overall bikini winners. This contest will also crown the first IFBB Women's Physique pros as well, as there will be 2 pro cards awarded for women's physique. Here's my personal thoughts on the numbers for each division:
Women's bodybuilding: Although no pro card is at stake here, seeing only 7 competing this weekend is a sad state of affairs for the division. Maybe I'm wrong, but you'd think for those that don't want to see women's bodybuilding perish, they would come out to to the first major NPC show of the year and show the haters that women's bodybuilding is here to stay, no matter what. IMHO, this does not bode well for the division if this continues.
Fitness: A pro card is up for grabs...you would think that there would be more competitors wanting that pro card. But only 8 are competing?! EIGHT?!?! I can't tell you how sad that looks and sounds. For those that know me, fitness is what brought me to being a fan/supporter of the entire industry in the first place. It would be a shame to see it go away. But if things don't improve and soon...we might be looking at the end of women's fitness in the NPC and eventually the IFBB.
Figure: not surprised whatsoever that this would have the most number of ladies. 102 is a fantastic number. But like all the divisions, it's going to be hard to determine what the standard should be. I feel that whoever gets those pro cards this year will set the standard for what figure should look like. I don't expect it to go back to the old days of figure, but hopefully with every division competing this weekend, we should hopefully have a better feel as to what figure should be (in the eyes of the NPC and IFBB, of course)
Bikini: Big number for bikini, which is showing that this division is a welcomed part of the NPC and IFBB, despite those very few that are trying to make this a T and A contest instead of an extension to women's health and fitness. I'm assuming whoever gets the pro cards here will be looked at as the standard for the division, with women's physique being put in place. What I'm personally hoping is the winning looks for figure and bikini are not similar, as in I don't want to here people go "why are there two divisions when the looks are EXACTLY the same" I've heard that in one too many conversations and messages boards.
Women's Physique: As great as all the divisions are, it's no secret that all eyes will be on the new women's physique division. A hybrid of women's bodybuilding and figure. The plan was for one class for this division for the Jr. USAs, but the numbers were too great. 48 to be exact. So they decided to split the classes into two. I don't think we will have to worry about mistaken this for bikini, but don't think the most ripped will win this one. But then again, it could. With this being a new division, there's really no way to determine a favorite going into this contest. For all we know, the standouts could be former fitness competitors, former figure competitors, former bodybuilder, maybe people who's never stepped on stage before. The standard (IMHO) won't be set for a few shows, but the Jr. USAs will be a good start in seeing what the NPC is looking for and what the IFBB Pros that want to do Women's Physique next year might want to work on, in terms of posing, physique, and overall presentation.
With all the divisions present and accounted for, this could definitely go down as arguably THE biggest NPC Jr. USAs in history. To everyone competing, good luck!