This weekend close to 900 competitors will head to Florida for the 2013 NPC Nationals. The majority of those competitors will be women in the bikini and figure divisions. The Figure division dates back to 2001 when Davana Medina was awarded pro status. The Bikini division was introduced to the NPC Nationals in 2009 where Jessica Anderson was awarded the top prize. There are more pro cards are awarded now (the top two in each class) but there are also more competitors than the early days. Achieving pro status is clearly the goal but having the title of “Overall NPC Nationals Champion” is something bestowed only one in each division.
The Figure division has awarded pro status since 2001. When you look back on the overall winners from NPC Nationals Figure you see a number of familiar names. If you want to win the Figure Olympia, your best chance is to be a NPC Nationals overall winner. There have only been five women to win the Figure Olympia since its inception in 2003. Three of the five were NPC Nationals overall champions. Davana Medina was awarded the first pro card in the Figure division and went on to win the Olympia three times. While she was awarded pro status in 2001 it wasn’t until 2003 that the pro division adapted the new division for the Olympia stage. Kristy Robbins took top honors in 2002 and competed in a handful of shows before hanging up her heels in 2004. She returned to the stage in 2011 but competed in the Bikini division. Amber Littlejohn took the title in 2003 and had a relatively successful figure career. She debuted at the Arnold Classic in 10th place but that would be her lowest placing as a pro. She was known for having crazy delts and an unique, exotic look. Amber was the runner-up at the 2006 Olympia, her highest finish.
Mary Lado may not have won the Olympia when she competed but she had a successful career on stage and appeared in numerous fitness magazines. She never finished out of the top ten as a pro and won the Arnold Classic twice. Mary was the 2004 overall figure winner. The 2005 winner, Danielle Hollenshade had a career high third place finish at the 2006 Sacramento Pro. She competed at the Olympia once and we haven’t seen her on stage since 2007. Sonia Adcock (Gonzeles) won the 2006 NPC Nationals and while she didn’t win the Olympia in Figure she did go on to win the inaugural Bikini Olympia in 2010. Sonia recently stepped away from the stage and is a new mom. Nicole Wilkins was the first and last woman to win the overall in not only the Fitness division but also the Figure division, in the same show. Nicole has gone on to have one of the best careers and arguable the best Figure competitor of all-time. She debuted in 11th place at the 2008 Arnold but since then has won the show three times. She recently took home her third Olympia title. The 2008 overall champion is another familiar name to those who follow the Figure division. Erin Stern earned her pro status at the 2008 NPC Nationals and since then has become one of the best Figure competitors in history. She debuted in 10th place at the Arnold Classic but has never finished that low since. It’s rare that someone never finishes out of the top ten in the pros. You have to go all the way back to 2009 to find a show that Erin has been out of the top three. She’s won the Olympia twice (2010 and 2012) and without question one of the most successful overall Figure Nationals champions.
Mindi Smith burst onto the scene in 2009 by winning the overall NPC Sacramento Figure title. She followed it up with a win at the 2009 NPC Nationals, beating out fan favorite Ava Cowan for the overall. She won the 2010 Phoenix Pro and finished 4th at the Arnold Classic that same year. We haven’t seen Mindi on stage since 2010 and doubtful we ever will again. Monica Specking showed tremendous promise when she won the 2010 NPC Nationals overall title and has been on a roller coaster with her placings ever since. She won the 2012 Optimum Classic and finished fifth in the 2013 New York Pro. Monica can typically hang in the top ten with a smaller show but when it comes to the Arnold and Olympia she was at the bottom of the pack. She’s competed at the Olympia twice and Arnold once, so she’s far from a slouch when it comes to her competition history.
The last two years have proven to be a struggle for the overall champs. Julie Mayer-Hyman was the 2011 champion and finally found her groove late this year as a pro. She was second at the 2013 Dallas Europa and fifth at the Tahoe Pro. Outside of those two shows, Julie struggled to make the top spots. Nicole Sims showed tremendous promise when she took home the crown in 2012 but has yet to find her groove in the pro ranks. She debuted at the Arnold and ended up in 14th place. Nicole has yet to finish better than 10th in the pro ranks.
FIGURE OVERALL NPC NATIONALS WINNERS
2012 - Nicole Sims
2011 - Julie Mayer-Hyman
2010 - Monica Specking
2009 - Mindi Smith
2008 - Erin Stern
2007 - Nicole Wilkins
2006 - Sonia Adcock
2005 - Danielle Hollenshade
2004 - Mary Elizabeth Lado
2003 - Amber Littlejohn
2002 - Kristy Robbins
2001 - Davana Medina
The fifth overall bikini crown will be awarded this weekend. When we look back at the previous overall winners it’s Jennifer Andrews who has the best competition resume. She’s the only overall Nationals’ champion who has gone not only won a pro show but also compete on the Olympia stage. Last year’s winner, Angela Skeels has competed in six IFBB Pro shows but only been able to crack the top five once. The 2011 Champion, Candy Agundez only competed once as a pro and missed the top five. Jennifer took top honors at the 2010 NPC Nationals and has competed in over a dozen shows since achieving pro status. She has four pro victories, competed at the Olympia twice and is already qualified for the 2014 Olympia with her win at the Ft. Lauderdale Cup. Jessica Anderson competed a couple of times as a pro but as a member of the US Military her schedule never really allowed for it. She recently had her first child and is busy being a new mom.
Visit nationalbodybuilding.com for information on this year’s event. We’ll be there covering all the action and if you are following along on social media use #NPCnationals to stay updated.