Since 1999, I’ve covered hundreds of competitions held by numerous organizations. Of those, only about ten produced winners that I can still remember today. In other words, hardly any. Of those ten, I remember the winners from Physique Canada the most vividly.
Examples of memorable Physique Canada winners stem back to the organization’s first competitions, which were held in 2012. That year Rob DeLuca won two Tier 1 Pro (the organization’s highest level) men’s bodybuilding competitions back to back: the National Classic and then the Canadian Championships. Rob will always be remembered as the first-ever Canadian Champion, along with being the first two-time Tier 1 Pro winner. In 2013, Denis Pedneault won the Canadian Championships, which many people still talk about today – his physique looked incredible and his posing routine was dazzling that day. In 2014, Simon Proteau pulled a feat similar as Rob by winning the National Classic and then the Canadian Championships. Then there was the famous 2015 Canadian Championships, with the largest and most competitive field of Tier 1 competitors to date. It was there that legendary bodybuilder Erik Alstrup won the competition by displaying a superb physique and combined that with outstanding showmanship and great sportsmanship.
2015 Canadian Championships
Those unforgettable victories have helped Physique Canada grow increasing larger year after year. As a result, on June 11, the 2016 National Classic was the organization’s largest event so far, both in terms of the number of athletes competing and size of audience to cheer them on. To top it off, the National Classic crowd was even more enthusiastic than in years past, particularly when Winston Johnson first came on the stage. In fact, the cheering for him was so loud for so long that competitors and coaches who were downstairs rushed upstairs to see what the commotion was about. More than once that day, Winston brought down the house. But before I tell you more, let me first let me backtrack a bit to give you some insight on Winston Johnson, which will provide a framework for how his victories at the National Classic came to be.
Winston Johnson isn’t new to the Canadian bodybuilding scene, but he is new to Physique Canada. I first saw Winston compete at an IDFA competition about six years ago, where he blew everyone away. I believe he competed with that organization for another competition or two before outgrowing it and moving on to compete successfully with other organizations. I can only surmise that Winston finally came to Physique Canada knowing it is now the top drug-tested organization in the nation and would give him a fresh challenge.
Because Winston hadn’t competed with Physique Canada before, he had to first compete at the Tier 2 level (the Open division) at the National Classic to qualify for Tier 1. (For the last two years, Physique Canada has structured events so that the top three in each weight division in Tier 2 can move on to Tier 1 that same day, if they wish to.) It was when Winston first walked on the stage for the Tier 2 heavyweight class that the chaos in the audience commenced, partly because he had a big cheering section there, but mostly because the rest of the audience was so impressed by the quality of his physique that they let loose with roars of approval.
It is easy to see why everyone was so impressed with Winston. He weighed only 170 pounds (he’s 5’ 6”), but he looked more like 200 pounds. Winston was also incredibly ripped and showcased superb overall shape – he possesses broad shoulders, really thick arms, a wide upper back, full and sweeping thighs, well-developed calves, and the tiniest of waists. The qualities combine to create the illusion of a much bigger bodybuilder when he’s posing on the stage. All told, it’s no wonder why Winston easily took first place in Tier 2 heavyweight, followed by Adam Farr in second and Frank Apuzzo in third (all three advanced to Tier 1).
Winston Johnson and Frank Apuzzo
Tier 1 has no weight classes, which makes for a very interesting competition, because everyone is lumped together and only one winner emerges. And lest you think it’s always the biggest guy who wins, think again – Denis Pedneault is 5’ 2” and weighed only 135 pounds when he won the Canadians in 2013. However, Pedneault was not competing at this year’s Classic and neither was or Alstrup or one of the other greats from the past. As a result, pretty much the same thing happened in Tier 1 that happened in Tier 2 – the audience went complete nuts when Winston came on and he won quite easily again. However, there was a bit of a surprise in second place. Mark Worla, who had won the Tier 2 lightweight class earlier and also advanced ahead, wound up placing behind Winston, leaving Adam to settle for third and Frank to slip out of the top three and into fourth.
Mark’s physique couldn’t challenge Winston’s at the National Classic, but he has strong potential for the future. Mark also has time on his side, since he’s only 25. Furthermore, Mark also surprised everyone with his weight, if not more so – he is 5’ 9” tall yet weighed only 152 pounds at the National Classic. Suffice it to say that most in the audience were shocked when they learned that a bodybuilder could be that tall, weigh that little, yet look so good. Like I said, it’s not always the biggest guy who does well.
Adam Farr sported a far bigger and thicker physique than Mark did (Adam is also a competitive powerlifter, which might account for that superior size he has), but side by side, Adam looked smooth compared to Mark, who, like Winston, displayed outstanding muscle definition. Since the judges look for a combination of size, definition, and shape, it was Mark who they felt had the best overall package. Adam also has potential to do well at the Tier 1 level, mind you, but he has to get far more defined if he wants to truly impress. If I had to take a guess, he needs shave off at least ten pounds to be ripped enough on the stage.
Winston the two-time winner
Without question, in men’s bodybuilding, there’s no question that the National Classic was Winston Johnson’s show. His wins were also ones that will be remembered for a very long time – the energy in the theater that day was the highest I’ve seen it and his physique was on par with the very best who have stepped on a Physique Canada stage. What I’m wondering now is if Winston will be back for this year’s Canadian Championships, to be held on October 22, and if one or more of the past Canadian Champions will come back to challenge him. I certainly hope so, because it would likely like turn into an epic showdown that will be talked about for years to come.
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