In the previous two articles in this series, I wrote about Erik Alstrup and Ben Pakulski, explaining why we’ve chosen them to be two of Canada’s 2009 Bodybuilders of the Year. In this third and final installment, I will single out another Canadian who deserves notice for his accomplishment in 2009: Denis Pedneault of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.
I first met Denis in 2006 at the CBBF National World Qualifier where, despite competing as a bantamweight and only weighing about 135 pounds, he won the overall title, convincingly beating competitors who were much larger. That same year, he went to the IFBB Men’s World Bodybuilding Championships and placed seventh – a great finish for a first-timer at that level, which I’ll explain in more detail below.
Denis took 2007 and 2008 off from competing in order to use the time to make some improvements to his physique. He returned to the competitive stage at the 2009 Arnold Amateur IFBB Championships where he placed second in the bantamweight category. Three weeks later, he competed at the CBBF Canadian Natural Physique Championships (formerly the CBBF National World Qualifier) and won the bantamweight class with unanimous first-place votes, but he lost the overall title to Dickens Lambert, another Quebec-based competitor who is now a pro in the IDFA.
Those two competitions were just the warm-up for Denis. His real goal was to compete and place in the top three at the 2009 IFBB Men’s World Bodybuilding Championships, which were held last November in Doha, Qata. Some might be surprised that he didn’t set his sights on a win there – I’m sure in the back of his mind he dreamed of it – but Denis is also very realistic about competing at that level. Placing in the top three is exceptionally hard; winning is this close to impossible.
I’ve accompanied the Canadian team to two world championships and I can say without hesitation that the competition there is incredibly fierce, which is no surprise given that the best athletes from each country are competing. Just to stand on that stage is an accomplishment in itself, and most Canadian athletes who compete there don’t even make the top 15. In fact, for many that’s their goal: simply make the top 15. Most don’t.
Besides the high level of competition, there’s another significant hurdle: While the IFBB’s Men’s World Championships are purported to be drug-tested, each time I was there I saw many competitors who didn’t seem to care that they might be tested – they were jacked to the nines. As one competitor said to me when I went in 2005, "It’s like I have a pocketknife and my opponent has a bazooka." Anyone with any knowledge of this sport knows that drugs give competitors an enormous advantage. Denis is a lifetime natural competitor and has no intention of doing drugs just to win. He wants to win cleanly and be proud of it.
As if that’s not enough, there’s also another factor: Many competitors at the world championships receive substantial support from their home government and sporting federations. But most Canadians get very little money, if anything at all. That’s why so few Canadians compete there anymore; it’s just not worth the time, effort, and expense. When Denis went to Doha, he was the only Canadian competitor there.
Triceps pushdowns, Denis Pedneault's way.
But our lone Canadian from Sherbrooke, Quebec did this country proud by placing fourth, narrowly missing his goal of landing in the top three. Perhaps most important, Denis was noticed by the top officials and was singled out for exhibiting excellent shape and symmetry, and praised for performing an outstanding posing routine. Denis made a mark this time and let the world know he’s a force to be reckoned with.
I don’t know when Denis will compete at the IFBB’s Men’s World Championships again, but next time he goes I feel that a top-three finish is no longer a goal for him but a given. He can set his sights on a win.
Despite the obstacles presented to him, Denis placed fourth in the toughest amateur competition in the world, proving that he has the skill to hang with the best, which is exactly why he is being recognized as one of Canada’s Bodybuilders of the Year. Congratulations on your accomplishment Denis!
. . . Doug Schneider, Publisher
Doug Schneider is the publisher and chief photographer for SeriousAboutMuscle.com.