How does one know if an event is successful? Usually it is by the number of people in attendance and the comments in the days following the event. Another way would be by the increase in the number of participants, as well as the return of high profile celebrity guests and newer ones wanting to come along. To say that the 2014 Toronto Pro SuperShow achieved that, would sum up the event in a nutshell.
For the past 4 years, Ron Hache and Team have worked hard to bring the only and largest Fitness Expo in Canada up to a level that is on par and comparable to other IFBB Pro sanctioned events and expos. Each year that the Team went to work (usually right after the closing of the one that had just finished), it was all about figuring out what worked and what didn't, listening to and reading all of the feedback from the fans, competitors and guests, and looking at how to improve the show for the following year to make it THAT much more. That being said, the Toronto Pro SuperShow truly has so much to offer to anyone who is interested in the health industry or competes in a variety of individual/team sports.
On Friday May 30 to Sunday June 1, 2014, downtown Toronto was the place to be. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre was a buzz with the energy of novice and Pro level competitors as well as the family, friends, and fans who were there to offer support and encouragement. If you were not sure where to go, all you had to do was follow the smell of Pro-Tan and watch where all the amazing physiques that graced Toronto's sidewalks were headed. With huge industry names on the list of "must sees", as well as IFBB Pro competitions that were Olympia qualifiers right down to the best of the best from Ontario competing for their ticket to the CBBF Nationals, wrestling, strongman, boxing and so much more, it was clear to see that the 2014 Toronto Pro SuperShow was going to be a huge success.
On Friday May 30, 2014, close to 500 of Ontario's best competitors ranging from Bikini to Bodybuilding, arrived bright and early for their weigh-ins, registrations and athletes meeting. In between all of this, tans, last minute tweeks and OPA staff running around all lead up to the first event of the weekend, which was the 2014 Provincials/Ontario Championships pre judging. With a 5pm start and a 1am end time, the OPA judges had their work cut out for them. Classes ranging from 3 to 20+ competitors made the night long, but the battle worth while. Each competitor made sure that they brought their best to fight for one of the Top 3 placings with the hope of winning first, or even better, the Overall.
Many OPA members could be seen not only on stage, but throughout the venue either as coaches, supports or cheering on their Teams. Pose after pose, and class after class the crowd continued to cheer the competitors on to make sure that they did not fade and "give up" as time went on. After 8 hours of pre judging and comparisons, the Top 5 were roughly selected and the judges needed to be convinced that their pre judging selections were correct, so it was on to the Finals first thing in the morning on Saturday May 31, 2014. With another marathon day ahead, in the end, the OPA had their winners and overall champions for the 2014 year crowned.
One of the biggest signs that the Ontario Championships at the 2014 Toronto Pro SuperShow was successful, was not the just the fact that there were close to 500 competitors registered, but it was the return for the third time of Guest Poser legend and one of the most down to Earth motivating and inspiring bodybuilders, Kai Greene. It never seizes to amaze me how captivating Kai Greene truly is. From him taking the time to talk to and take pictures with the competitors backstage, to an artistically pleasing/crowd worthy posing routine, to Kai coming back out onto the stage to pose two extra times. Kai Greene lives and breathes the sport and there is not one doubt that he has a passion to share his love of the sport, as well to educate and make competitors aware that this sport is so much more than just stepping on stage. In true Kai Greene form, after his multiple guest posing routines, Kai took a moment to address the crowd with an inspiring speech on not giving up on your dreams and how essential any form of support is to a competitor and the industry. With Kai's words fresh in many minds, it was on to the second half of the Finals and it seemed to be all about those Bodybuilders. One of the stand out classes at the Provincials, was the Junior Bodybuilding class. This group of young men brought to stage physiques that were conditioned, and each brought with them a maturity in their routines and posing, which one hopes is a sign of things to come and will lead to promising competitive careers in the future. The Welter Weight all the way up to the Super Heavy Weight classes, truly made the Finals challenging for the judges - who would be the winner and who will take the Overall. Tighter, drier, rounder and ready to battle was what men in these classes prepared for.
The Provincials/Ontario Championships was not the only event taking place on Saturday May 31, 2014. It was also the official first day of the EXPO, strongmen competitions, boxing, wrestling, arm wrestling and the Pre - Judging for the IFBB Pro event! Looking around the EXPO and the crowd taking in the event, you could catch a glimpse of your favourite IFBB Pro among them. Not just those who were at the EXPO doing meet and greets with their fans, but actually there to watch the events and support their fellow IFBB Pro competitors. Spotted in the seats at the IFBB Pro Pre-Judging were Charles Glass, Shawn Rhoden, Roelly Winklaar, Marshel Herman, Dexter Jackson, Michael Johnson, Antoine Vaillant, Leight Brandt, Larry Vinette, Setanta Carroll, George Farah, Kim Tilden and so many more. Also, spotted were many of the top industry media representing for their magazines or publications - FLEX, Muscular Development, RX Muscle, Muscle Insider, as well as the independent photographers that were working with the Toronto Pro SuperShow Media Team.
As with any IFBB Pro event, "the voice of the IFBB" Bob Cicherillo was the MC. With his charm and sense of humour, Bob made sure that the competitors and supporters were enjoying the event. With over 20 competitors in each of the classes, and all classes that the IFBB has to offer presented on stage, Toronto let the competitors know what they liked and who. The 2014 Toronto Pro had the largest 212lbs class to date and it was also the debut for many Canadian IFBB Pros. The reigning Ms. Bikini Olympia was back looking to repeat her win from last year. Johnni O Jackson, Juan Morels, Jon Delarosa, Guy Cisternino, Chris White, Gregory Ulysse, Henri Pierre, Amit Sapir, Santana Anderson, Toney Freeman, Leah Johnson, Mindi O'Brien, Lise Thexton, Nkechi Robinson, Michelle Krack, CeaAnna Kerr, Natalie Waples, Wayne Chambers, Joanne Williams, Roxanne Edwards and the list goes on of who walked across and competed in the Toronto IFBB Pro event. Over the last four years Toronto has earned its place within the list of events for the IFBB Pros to select and each year more and more "high profile" names are being added to the list. The Toronto IFBB Pro event is also one of a few that offers all the IFBB Pro classes and divisions which makes it a good pick for competitors. The IFBB Pro pre-judging line up, proved challenging for the judges. The comparisons and call outs had the competitors standing on stage for longer periods of time, which one could only assume that the Finals would bring out entertaining and energizing posedowns for Top placings and that Olympia qualification.
The pre-judging for the IFBB Pro event was taking place on the EXPO stage, so those walking around the EXPO were able to see a Pro event for the cost of EXPO admission. There was lots to do and see at the EXPO, as well as sample products and meet some of your favourite IFBB Pros at a booth. With a steady stream of fans and supporters present all day, each booth was always busy and there was a lot of action all around, including the Inside Fitness Cover Model Search.
After the EXPO had finished a successful Day 1, the Toronto Pro SuperShow was gearing up for the IFBB Pro Finals. The John Bassett Theatre was the place to be to see anybody and everybody IFBB affiliated. The Finals began with the pre-judging of the Men's Open and then going into the Finals for Bikini, Figure, Women's Bodybuilding, Fitness and Men's Bodybuilding 212 and Open class. Last year's IFBB Pro Bikini winner, Ashley Kaltwasser, made it a repeat win and Olympia qualification. Genn Strombo was the winner for Figure, Fitness winner was Marta Aguiar, Simone Oliveira won Women's Bodybuilding, Guy Cisternino won the 212 and Juan Morel took the Men's Open. With great routines, posedowns and crowd support, the 2014 Toronto IFBB Pro event ended well, all that was left to crown was the Men's and Women's IFBB Pro Physique.
Day 2 of the EXPO was the last day to take in all of the action. First thing on the EXPO stage was the Finals for the IFBB Pro Men's and Women's Physique. With points just separating the Top 5 in both divisions, the judges made the competitors work hard for their placings. Canada's own Mindi O'Brien was qualified and heading off to her 9th Olympia and Matthew Acton won the Men's Physique. Following the IFBB Pro Finals, was the Finals for the Inside Fitness Magazine Cover Model Search. Also, the booths were still going strong with even more celebrity sightings and give aways. All in all, the EXPO and the 2014 Toronto Pro SuperShow ended on a high.
After months and months of planning and sorting out every last detail, the 2014 Toronto Pro SuperShow came to an end and wrapped up another exciting weekend. The industry came and left, new IFBB Pros were crowned and qualified for the Olympia and many more dreams of competing were realised. Competitors made contacts and connections with companies that might offer sponsorship support and friendships and memories were made. You have to wonder what Ron Hache and the Team will be planning and working on for next year! See you in 2015!
By Tina Goinarov