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NPA Midlands 2016


Report and photography by Michael Phillips & Fivos Averkiou

Held as always at Stratford Artshouse in Stratford upon Avon, this year the competition was moved to a Saturday, the date being Saturday August 13th 2016, this being the third of five NPA area qualifiers for the 2016 NPA Britain Championships to be held at The Clarendon Centre in Brighton on Saturday October 1st. Stratford Artshouse is a fabulous venue, one of the best ever used by the NPA; while we have had a bigger number of entries in the past, the 33 entries who competed on a sunny day in August were all very competitive and all in fine shape.

Massive thanks to all our competition sponsors!

The two main show sponsors of this year’s NPA Midlands were EQ NUTRITION and UDO’S CHOICE. Special thanks to Jack Dawson, Simon Stevens, and in particular, Steve Howarth, at EQ Nutrition for very generously giving prizes for the first and third place finishers in the contest, and to Tony Barnes at Udo’s for doing likewise for the second place finishers.

Additional thanks to the class sponsors, who were:

Matt Bembridge, The Gym Professor; Nicola Gilbert A1 Tanning;

Fox Mouldings Ltd; Fivos Averkiou, Photography.

On with the report…

Masters over 50’s

1 - Courtney Smith – 3 (points)
2 - Patrick McGrath – 6

14 of the 15 first places going to Courtney, making a very welcome return to the NPA, and looking as hard and muscular as he ever has, with his wide, thick back in particular showing great and deep separation; Patrick was in good shape, just a few lbs tighter would improve his physique no end, and he needs a better tan, which enhances the physique; stepping on-stage with virtually no tan goes against you as the strong lighting can and does wash you out, hiding your cuts! Courtney and Patrick have been training as long as I have, that’s 30+ years (!), both are 54 years of age, both a credit to Natural Bodybuilding, and both were invited to the 2016 NPA Britain Finals.

Juniors under 21’s

1 - Cain Pickard – 3
2 - Louis Duckett – 6

12 of the 15 first places going to Cain, who was invited to the 2016 NPA Britain Finals; with big, shapely, rounded muscle bellies, and good proportions, Cain impressed, and has good potential; he could have showed more definition, he didn’t have the best tan, and for the life of me, I don’t understand why he hardly hit any poses in his round 3 individual posing routine, but overall, a good debut; Louis at 14 years of age posed superbly and is the youngest ever competitor to take an NPA stage. Of course, at such a young age, he has years of growth ahead of him; he had clearly added some thickness to his upper body from his NPA Yorkshire debut just 3 months earlier, and showed particularly good chest and abdominal development.

Ladies Physique

1 - Tara Leyden – 4
2 - Della Mabutt – 5

Incredible standard! One point in it, both invited to the NPA Britain, no surprise there! The Amazonian Tara: she was in amazing shape, with world class front and back double biceps shots, fantastic shape and structure, and with a very healthy look, taking 9 of the 15 first places, to Della’s 6, Tara was a very impressive victor. Della was equally in awesome shape: arms, back, shoulders, all showing very detailed muscularity. A top class competition between two of the best Ladies Physique competitors ever seen on an NPA stage!

Masters over 40’s

1 - Nige Atkinson – 4
2 - Elvis Hall – 5
3 - Kevin Webb – 9
4 - Adrian Hampton – 12

Great line-up, all four Masters in very good shape, Nige winning his first ever competition, on a split decision over Elvis, taking the title with 10 of the 15 available first places. Nige, in supremely sharp muscular condition, very balanced and complete, showing great detail especially on the back and hams, and looking like he had swallowed the proverbial washboard so impressive was his mid-section. His posing was sublime, a magnificent routine! Elvis in second: in top shape, chest and arms awesome complete with the split biceps, very good back and delts, and with a superior skin texture, a great battle for top spot. A clear third went to Kevin – stood there in the round 1 front stance, Kevin stood out, so much so that one judge placed him first in round 1; with a tapered front double biceps, and a detailed and beautifully structured mid section, Kevin looked superb. At 84.6kg, Adrian was by far the biggest in the class, with excellent arms, big delts, and wide back, his imposing and muscular physique was very impressive. A top class Masters line-up! Top 3 got the NPA Britain invites.

Novice Lightweights

1 - Michael Sheun – 3
2 - Adam Hutchinson – 6
3 - Asher Malcolm – 10
4 - Myles Thorpe Wood – 11
5 - John Anderson – 15
6 - Tom Collins – 18

Michael got all the first places, Adam all the second places, 5 of the 6 were first-timers, all enjoyed the contest, and all gave their all. Michael’s granite hard condition, and all round combination of shape, symmetry, and mass dominated the class! Runner-up Adam had the best back in the class, very thick and wide, upper body very impressive, needs more calves though. Very close battle for third place. Asher got third: very thickly muscled physique, loads of mass, with good legs and very good calves, could have been sharper though; Myles in fourth, didn’t have the thickness of Asher, but was more aesthetic, with outstanding abs and arms. John in fifth, short, compact physique, wide back, good legs and calves, needs help showing his physique though; sixth went to Tom, with a good tapered physique, small waist, needs more muscle thickness and quality to place higher, which more time in the gym will bring!

A superb class, top 3 got the NPA Britain invites.

Middleweights under 78kg

1 - David Hodson – 4
2 - Paul Stanton – 5

A split decision, two totally different physiques; David took 9 first places, with a more complete physique, and with granite hard muscularity; Paul got 6 first places, he was more thicker especially on his upper body, but still needs more legs – really could have gone either way, a real chalk and cheese battle which genetics playing their part as well! David’s front and back stances were very good, but he does lack a bit of thickness on the side shots upper body wise, his legs side on are hugely impressive, especially in the hamstrings, he also has the ultimate mid-section! Paul has such an impressive upper body, very thick, with a huge, wide back, excellent delts and arms, but he has relatively poor legs in comparison to his upper body, and the legs were undoubtedly one of David’s strong points! Superb battle, with both getting NPA Britain invites.

Lightweights under 70kg

1 - Stephen Olagoke – 3
2 - Nik Brown – 6
3 - Martin Murray – 9

Stephen, at 68.9kg, was simply awesome, and near faultless, he has everything! With an incredible back, and with triceps displaying fish-bone separation, Stephen has muscle hanging off him; at times, especially in the round one comparisons, he can look a fraction soft, but upon flexing, he literally explodes into life showing exceptional muscle thickness and quality. There is no doubt Stephen is genetically gifted, with fantastic shape; but the work still has to go in, and in this shape, he will take some beating in any contest. Nik was in the shape of his life; top class back development, showing amazing density and separation, very good abs and legs, with that elusive granite condition, he was massively improved from 2 years ago, as was Martin! He got third; another competition with granite hard muscle quality and condition that was faultless, very good shape and taper, outstanding legs, he was so improved from 2 years ago. Both Nik and Martin would have won many other qualifiers in this shape! All 3 were naturally invited to the NPA Britain Finals!

Trained Figure

1 - Emma Somers – 4
2 - Chloe Lake – 5
3 - Natalia Jeremko – 10
4 - Gemma Catlin – 11
5 - Bethany Noble – 14
6 - Carla Chacksfield – 18

Clear battle for top spot with Emma taking 7 firsts to Chloe’s 6, as close as it gets! Emma’s wide shoulders and back, and tapered shape and structure made her stand out, and she posed superbly not just in her routine, but in all her stances and comparisons too. Chloe also had a great, tapered back, she’s smaller and shorter than Emma, again, very well balanced, and a superb routine. Repeating myself here but…Natalia, in third: statuesque shape and structure, superb posing, she was a fraction softer than when she competed in the NPA Yorkshire, but still very good. The top 3 hit the criteria bang on the button for the class, to get the NPA Britain invites. Emma, Chloe, and Natalia all carry some muscle, were not over dieted and over conditioned, they all ticked all the boxes for the class, and are what the Trained Figure class is all about. In fourth was Gemma, in very sharp condition, clearly very well trained yet too lean, and would have been better a few lbs heavier. Bethany got fifth, was in very good shape, good shoulders to waist taper, with Carla also in very good shape, yet needs more muscle to place higher. Some superb posing routines as always in the Trained Figure class! As the Trained Figure class gets more popular, it’s important that the criteria is understood, and what I think is apparent is there are some girls who would qualify for a Toned Figure class, if we had it, as they could be classed as Novices if compared with the leading girls in the class. For example, Emma, Chloe, and Natalia are Trained Figure girls; Gemma on this day was in between Trained Figure and Physique, she is a Trained Figure girl, but not on this day; Bethany and Carla are Toned Figure girls, because their level of muscle development is not of those of the top 3. My comments are meant to be constructive; last year the NPA added the Trained Figure Over 40’s class, if we get 3 or more entries, so maybe a Toned Figure class will be added in the future.

Novice Heavyweights

1 - Elijah Burke – 5
2 - Samuel De La Bertouche – 6
3 - Jono Simmons – 8
4 - Paul Wood – 12
5 - Allister Moore – 15
6 - Alan Bryan – 18

Another split decision, Elijah getting 8 firsts, Sam 5, and Jono 2. Elijah: beautiful upper body shape, wide shoulders, small waist, very good back, decent thighs with good separation, must hammer the calves, though, Elijah! Sam in second: 95.1kg, heaviest competitor on the day, very big and imposing physique, superb arms and chest, legs were ok especially when flexed, and like Elijah, needs more calf development. Jono in third does not have that problem, as his legs and calves were incredible! His upper body was good, but clearly behind the two in front of him, so needs to hammer the hell out of the basics to bring his upper body up to match his incredible legs! Top 3 getting the NPA Britain invite. Paul was razor sharp, clearly a good physique, good upper body and very good legs, hamstrings and calves but…he looked a total Novice, could have posed a lot better, had no tan at all, and under the bright lights, this hid a lot of his condition, which was the best in the class. Paul was a solid fourth but could and should have challenged for top spot – you must practice all your poses and stances, and don’t be under-prepared in any aspect of the competition for what is required to look at your best! I am not saying this just to Paul, it applies to all competitors! Fifth was the massive Allister, loads of mass, but was weeks off in condition. Sixth went to Alan; tall, long limbed, in good shape, but needs more muscle mass to place higher. Another excellent class, with 4 of the 6 first timers.

Novice Overall

1 – Michael Sheun – 3

2 – Elijah Burke – 6

Overall Novice Champion, Michael Sheun, a very impressive Novice in only his second ever contest! Michael, at 64.3kg, sure as hell looks heavier, an outstanding, balanced physique in rock hard condition; Elijah has that elusive natural shape, with wide shoulders, flaring lats, and a small waist, two very good Novice Champions.

Men’s Overall


2 – Michael Sheun – 7

3 – Nige Atkinson – 10

4 – David Hodson – 11

5 – Courtney Smith – 15

Overall Men's Champion: the unstoppable, incredible and truly gifted physique of STEPHEN OLAGOKE, who took all the first places in his class and in the Overall, to win his second Overall NPA Midlands title!

Best First-timers: Emma Somers & Elijah Burke

Best Presentation: Emma Somers & Nige Atkinson

The five judges picked 5 competitors for the male BP award, which has never happened before, with Nige, Paul Stanton, Jono Simmons, Michael Sheun, and Nik Brown all getting a vote, which left the casting vote to me, and I thought the posing of Nige Atkinson was simply majestic, so he won the BP award, much to his delight!

Judges: Carl Zambra, Roy Jones, Carol Walker, Andrew Palmer, and Richard Walker.

Back-stage: Nathan Handley.

Drug-testing and Poly graphing took place on the day, and was supervised by Roy Jones and Michael Phillips, and by Andrew Armstrong of Forensic Vetting Ltd.

Just a couple of points…the venue was half full for the second consecutive year, which was disappointing, which I will take the blame for, and I would agree that the contest could have been publicised more, no excuses…in addition, while Nathan Handley did a great job back-stage, making sure there were no tan stains left behind, on an end of day inspection walking around the venue with Jenna, the manager, to my disbelief, she showed me to the entrance of the venue, and to the toilet area…there were 3 toilet seats in the male toilets stained by tan, and the venue charged an additional £114 to clean them, on top of the £1250 venue hire fee. I was speechless – and for the life of me I cannot understand how anyone would treat such a fine venue with such disrespect not only to the venue itself, but to the NPA, that’s your association…now I fully understand why other associations ban the likes of Dream Tan, it can be damn messy, and that might be what the NPA does too; just ask yourself; would you have sat down in your own bathroom, and left your back-side tan stains on your own toilet? Was it YOU who sat down there? I can see the humorous side to this, but it’s not funny really, and it will cost the NPA not only money, but use of venues.

Finally, and to finish on a positive note…Natural Bodybuilding is such a feel good, inspirational, and encouraging sport; the camaraderie back-stage is magnificent at NPA shows, a true Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Iron, long may it continue!

A huge well done to all who competed, particularly the class winners; massive thanks to all the sponsors, officials, judges, and spectators, hope to see many of you at the next NPA competition, the 2016 NPA South East, to be held on Saturday September 3rd in Tonbridge.

Michael Phillips

Secretary - NPA

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