Coupe Progym, held annually since 2014 in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec, is unique in that it’s the only Physique Canada event where there are no Tier 1 Pro categories. It’s also the only one with a Junior division (under age 21). Promoters Denis Pedneault and Serge Moreau wanted to create an event that focused more on new competitors – and younger ones, too. For those wanting to advance upwards in the Physique Canada ranks, Coupe Progym does include the usual levels: Tier 3 (novice), Tier 2 (open), and Masters (over age 40). Mind you, Coupe Progym has yet another interesting twist compared to the other Physique Canada events – after every winner in every category and level has been announced, all the category winners for each discipline compete against each other for the Overall title. Those winners, regardless of the level they entered, are eligible to advance to the Physique Canada Tier 1 Pro level. The latest one was held on November 27, 2016.
Their formula has proven successful so far – Coupe Progym has always been inspiring for those who have competed and watched, and it’s become a hotbed for brand-new talent, particularly when it comes to men’s bodybuilding. For example, in 2014, Frédérik Therrien emerged as the Overall men’s bodybuilding winner. In 2015, Carl Giguère came out on top. Both subsequently competed on the Tier 1 Pro stage following their wins, and I count on seeing them back because they’re talented enough to take a top title again one day.
This brings us to the 2016 Coupe Progym men’s bodybuilding Overall winner, Olivier Martel, who, at 18 years of age, was not only the youngest bodybuilder to win at Coupe Progym, he was youngest Physique Canada winner ever in any category at any event. He stunned everyone there.
Olivier won the Junior and Tier 3 lightweight classes easily; however, when it came to the Overall title, he was up against some very strong class winners: Steve Cossette (Tier 3 heavyweight), Jonathan Dulude (Tier 2 lightweight), Vincent Lévesque (Tier 2 heavyweight), and Pierre Gaudreault (Masters). As a result, Olivier had his work cut out for him.
Vincent Lévesque, Steve Cossette, Jonathan Dulude, Pierre Gaudreault, and Olivier Martel
Among the four, Vincent Lévesque and Pierre Gaudreault came pretty close to matching Olivier in size and definition, but they didn’t have great shape and symmetry that he does. I thought his strongest competition to be Steve Cossette and Jonathan Dulude. Steve, because of his size and thickness, Jonathan because he was absolutely ripped to the bone. From what I learned afterwards, the judges saw it the same way I did.
In bodybuilding, as in many things, balance is what counts. Olivier wasn’t the biggest or the most defined, but he was big and defined enough that, coupled with his outstanding shape, great symmetry, and strong posing, he was the idea choice to be crowned as the winner.
Serge Moreau presenting the top trophy to Olivier Martel
The 2016 version of Coupe Progym was another fantastic event where more fine talented emerged and another great men’s bodybuilding champion was crowned. I am already looking forward to seeing Olivier Martel compete on the Tier 1 Pro stage this, though he’s unsure if he’ll make his debut in July at the National Classic or in October at the Canadian Championships. Nevertheless, the potential is all there for him and, given his young age, time is certainly on his side. Let’s see what comes next for this future Physique Canada star.
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