In the wake of the 2023 Mr. Olympia showdown, the bodybuilding arena is already buzzing with the fervor of athletes gearing up for the next big challenge. The stage was set in Bucharest, Romania last weekend for this year’s edition of the Romania Muscle Fest Pro. Aside from the star power that filled every lineup across all nine divisions, the Romania Muscle Fest also marked the first official qualifier for the 2024 Mr. Olympia, which elevated the stakes for athletes across the board looking to get a jump on bookending next year’s regular season campaign.
Heading into the weekend, the runaway preshow favorite in the Men’s Open was Samson Dauda, who was still riding the wave of momentum that came with his first top three Olympia finish.
True to form, the “Nigerian Lion” did not disappoint, as he cruised to another impressive victory, despite being up against a dearth of high-level talent, that made this one of the deepest non-Olympia and Arnold Classic lineups that we’ve seen all year long.
• Winner — Samson Dauda
• 2nd Place — Behrooz Tabani
• 3rd Place — Marcello De Angelis
• 4th Place — Nathan De Asha
• 5th Place — Mohamed Foda
• 6th Place — Andrea Presti
Although 212 bodybuilding may not have entered the weekend with as much fanfare as the Men’s Open, the results might have elicited the strongest reaction from fans across any of the nine divisions. Less than one week removed from his top-five Olympia finish, Ahmad Ashkanani managed to secure a controversial win over eventual 2nd place finisher Christian Zagarella – a decision that certainty seems to have sparked its fair share of criticism from bodybuilding fans in the immediate aftermath.
• Winner — Ahmad Ashkanani
• 2nd Place — Christian Zagarella
• 3rd Place — Radoslav Angelov
• 4th Place — Alexandru Vasile Uta
• 5th Place — Lucas Garcia
• 6th Place — Dawid Cnota
Although Ahmad Ashkanani’s victory in the 212 division may have sparked some controversy; there was no controversy to be found in Classic Physique, where 7th place Olympia finisher, Wesley Vissers, dominated this lineup from start to finish after putting together his most impressive outing of the season.
• Winner — Wesley Vissers
• 2nd Place — Ruben Lopez Reyes
• 3rd Place — Alexander Westermeier
• 4th Place — Sebastien Theurel
• 5th Place — Ali Shams Ghamar
• 6th Place — George Achampong
Men’s Physique is, and has been, one of the least predictable divisions in all of bodybuilding in recent years, and we saw that trend continue last weekend as Miroslav Juricek stepped onstage for the first time this season, and managed to secure a win over a lineup that featured a handful of 2023 Olympians.
• Winner — Miroslav Juricek
• 2nd Place — Carlos DeOliveira
• 3rd Place — Furkan Er
• 4th Place — Mohammad Ali
• 5th Place — Jeffrey Darko
• 6th Place — Alessandro Cavagnola
2023 has been a tremendous year for Women’s Bodybuilding thus far and, despite last weekend’s lineup being absent of some of the bigger names that we’ve seen capture headlines this season, it was still a great overall showcase for some of the talented athletes in this division – especially for Leyvina Rodrigues Barros, who was able to secure a hard fought win.
• Winner — Leyvina Rodrigues Barros
• 2nd Place — Anastasia Korableva
• 3rd Place — Tiana Flex
• 4th Place — MayLa Ash
• 5Pth lace — Barbara de Freitas Moojen
• 6th Place — Hagit Seindlis
More often than not, the depth of talent in the Bikini division makes can turn any show into a toss up on a given night. However, fortunately for Bikini fans, that wasn’t the case here, thanks to a lights out performance from Alice Marchisio, who netted the first win of her IFBB career, in addition to securing a well deserved invitation to next year’s Olympia weekend.
• Winner — Alice Marchisio
• 2nd Place — Valerya Fedorenko
• 3rd Place — Giuditta Taccani
• 4th Place — Dorottya Zoe Toth
• 5th Place — Kerry Sexton
• 6th Place — Rania Stamatiadou
As we witnessed during Olympia weekend, Cyd Gillon is a juggernaut in the Figure division, and doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. However, right now, any lineup absent the seven-time defending Olympia champ is up for grabs; and that was also the case last weekend, where we saw 11th place Olympia finisher Tereza Linhartova put together a well rounded performance on her way to securing a victory.
• Winner — Tereza Linhartova
• 2nd Place — Stefana Sandu
• 3rd Place — Rejoice Godwin
• 4th Place — Jennifer Reece
• 5th Place — Jennifer Zienert
• 6th Place — Sonja Ivanov
Similar to Figure, the Women’s Physique division is top heavy and dominated by stars at the top right now, which presents plenty of opportunities for other athletes in this division to step up on a given night. Last weekend’s winner, Raluca Raducu, took full advantage of her chance to secure a spot on the 2024 Olympia stage by dialing in her conditioning, on the way to locking in her first win of the season.
• Winner — Raluca Raducu
• 2nd Place — Caroline Alves Dos Santos
• 3rd Place — Sahar Rahmani
• 4th Place — Natalia Bystrova
• 5th Place — Silvia Cuartero Martinez
• 6th Place —Julia Glazycheva
The Wellness division scored another big win last weekend thanks to a standout performance from 2023 New York Pro champion, Gisele Machado, who put together her best overall performance of the season, on the way to punching her ticket to the Olympia stage for the second year in a row.
• Winner — Gisele Machado
• 2nd Place — Paula Dominguez
• 3rd Place — Sandra Colorado Acal
• 4th Place — Klaudia Vanessza Csuri
• 5th Place — Dainora Dvarionaite
• 6th Place — Lexy Oliver