Monday, April 17, 2017

Bridesmaid No More: Wendy Fortino Gets Her Win At Last

The Champ is (FINALLY!!!) here!!!!
Photo credit: NPC News Online

July 30, 2011.

This was the day she won the NPC USA Figure Class A and Overall title. This was the day she became an IFBB Pro. For six years, she would go on to compete in over 30 pro shows. She would place runner-up in seven shows, and she stepped on the Olympia stage twice (2014 and 2015) due to the Olympia Qualification Series. Yet, despite her ever-improving and jaw-dropping physique and one of the most graceful stages presences of any figure competitor, she had yet to do the one thing that can truly call her a top competitor: Win a pro show. The way things were going, we honestly thought that Wendy would go down as the one of the greatest figure competitors in IFBB history to NEVER win a pro show.

Then April 15, 2017 happened.
The St. Louis Pro happened.

Bringing what she felt was her best look yet, in one of the toughest and deepest line-ups of the year (which included past and present Olympia qualifiers in their own rights), Wendy finally reached the top of the mountain. She became the 2017 IFBB St. Louis Pro Figure Champion. Everything she sacrificed throughout her career, her sweat, her tears, and maybe even some blood, finally paid off. She can finally cross "winning a pro show" off her fitness career checklist. The Olympia Qualification Series is a dead issue for her now. She is officially Olympia-bound because she WON a show. No qualification points this time!

I dare you to watch this video and not tear up a bit. I can't even begin to understand what is going though her head here.

That is how an athlete who has given everything she has into her craft feels when her hard work is rewarded. I teared up for her, and I RARELY do that with any athlete. I've followed her journey before FitGems Nation was even a thing. I became an instant fan when I saw her on the Kriv Studios website when she was a track athlete and had an amazing physique before she even THOUGHT about competing in physique shows. While it's awesome to see someone win their first show, it's something about fighting for show after show for years to get that first win that makes it much better.

If I could personally think of one quote that fits her journey to her first pro win, it would be the one that Rocky told his son in Rocky Balboa. While the movie (to me) wasn't as good as the earlier movies, it did have one of the greatest motivational speeches I've ever heard of in my entire life, and this fits Wendy to a T:

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!

Wendy knows what she's worth and she goes after it show after show after show. She has taken more hits leading up to her win than most in their entire lifetimes. She doesn't place blame on anyone, she doesn't go and say that politics are to blame. She just keeps hustling and fighting each and every show she enters in hopes of earning respect within the industry, which I believe she has done with flying colors, even without that pro win.

I admire and respect every woman who steps on a physique stage, but Wendy is one of the few who I've personally connected to and I've yet to meet her in person. She is one of the most genuine people not only in the physique world, but on Earth period. She ALWAYS see the good in everyone and always complements anyone and everyone she possibly can, even those that end up beating her. Her kindness is felt by many people in the industry and they always talk about on social media, how humble she is and how amazing a competitor she is and admire her determination and never-say-die attitude, the stuff I love about her as a person, not just a competitor.

When Wendy became the 2011 NPC USA Overall Figure Champion
Photo credit: Muscular Development

When you're good at something, you tell everyone. When you're great at something, they tell you. The way Wendy Fortino's win was received on social media proved what we have been saying for years: Wendy Fortino is a GREAT competitor. She is one of the greatest ambassadors the physique world has ever seen not just because of fighting to improve her physique throughout the years, but the way she carries herself in a professional and humble matter. Most in her position would have quit, and truthfully we would not fault them. Not Wendy. She never quit even though we wouldn't have blamed her one bit if she did. The motto her and her husband Matt Allen use is "Success Requires Obsession". It's not just a motto for her, it's how she lives her life...and it paid off for her in the end. She is living proof that good things come to those that put in the work and never give up. Her hard work earned (not given) her the 2017 IFBB St. Louis Pro Figure Championship and a trip to the Olympia for the third time in four years.

To me and to all of FitGems Nation, Wendy has always been a champion. We'll go as far as saying to many she is "The People's Champion" in the figure division. Now, she finally has hardware to validate her right as a champion. Congrats Miss Fortino. In your own words, "The Harder the Fight, the Sweeter the Victory." And oh how sweet it is!

This photo speaks volumes. EARNED not given!
Photo credit: Jack Titone/Instagram

Feel free to follow Wendy at the following links:

Cyberbodyshop business with her husband/trainer Matt Allen: