Year in Review Part Two: The New Wave

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Youth Movement: Figure girl Rachel Gilmore is part of a talented group of exciting fresh faces on the scene.

There’s a youth movement breezing across fitness, figure and women’s physique and bodybuilding. A new wave of talented, twenty-something competitors—many in their first year competing, some already pros—have added a healthy dose of energy and excitement to the industry these days.

I’ve selected a cast of eight competitors, all in their 20s, worthy of another look. It’s a collection of today’s stars mixed with tomorrow’s superstars, some have already taken huge steps towards greatness while others are closing in on theirs. It’s a small sample size but a significant part of a larger whole in the sport’s bright future.

Here they are, in no particular order, along with an overview and some brief notes. Click the links to check out more pics, in-depth features and interviews. With the NPC Nationals capping another fine season, it’s a great time to be a fan. With young faces like these entering their prime, even better days are ahead.

Rachel Gilmore 24, 5’2”, 119 (Spokane, Wash.) – Rachel’s first show was when she was a teen and she’s gone on to have tremendous success in Northwest area shows. This year, she did the Emerald Cup and took second in the figure short class. Great figure look and a top contender going into her first National show next season. Interviewed last year (June 2011), she was getting ready for the Night of Champions.

Jackie Abrams 23, 5’1”, 107 (Aurora, Colorado) – “I’m not the same little girl who first stood on stage last July,” says the future Olympia fitness competitor. Jackie was Emerald Cup fitness champ and won the fitness overall at her first national show (Jr. USAs). One of her goals was turning pro, and she did—then placed fifth at the Toronto Pro—all less than a year after stepping on stage for the first time.

Rene Marven 25, 5’2”, 134 (Poughkeepsie, New York) – Former figure girl out of the Empire State turned to bodybuilding. Even though Rene has a background in cheerleading and gymnastics, she told me last year (April 2011) that there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being on stage as a bodybuilder. That feeling undoubtedly reached a new high when she won the middleweight title and turned pro at the 2012 NPC Nationals.

California Dream: Allison Taylor is destined to make a splash in the figure ranks.

California Dream: Impressive former bikini girl Allison Taylor is destined to make a splash in the figure ranks.

Allison Taylor 25, 5’3”, 116 (Whittier, Calif.) – Allison started in bikini and has moved to figure, winning her first local show. “When I first started training in January, I could never have imagined my physique to develop the muscles that I have now,” she told me in June 2012.

Ashley Sebera, 23, 5’3” (Cleveland, Ohio) – Ashley turned to fitness and went pro in her first year competing at Fitness Nationals. A bikini crossover with an accomplished gymnastics background, The Kent State University graduate did gymnastics for 15 years, rising to elite status and appearing in the Jr. Olympics and on U.S. National Teams.

Casie Sheppard 26, 6’2”, 170 (Minnesota) – The Minnesotan always stood out as a figure competitor because of her striking height, but she took off like a rocket as a women’s physique competitor. Casie got a new trainer, focused on WP, and won her pro card at the Jr. Nationals over the summer.

Holland Canter 24, 5’3”, 128 (Dadeville, Alabama) – Holland finished sixth at NPC Nationals and keeps on improving as a physique competitor. Meanwhile, deep gymnastic roots continue to stir up thoughts of a switch over to fitness. No matter what, this phenomenal athlete is a definite future superstar.

Cassie Rowe 26 (North Carolina) – Former figure competitor finished fifth at last year’s NPC Nationals but knee problems sidelined her this year. At 5-foot-11, she towered over peers even in the tall class. On physique, she told me last November (2011), “I certainly think I have found where I belong … I do, however, feel that it should have at least one more height class.” Physique has since added more height classes to shows and Cassie is one to watch in the division.

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~ by Dean Sucich on December 9, 2012.

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