The 2022 Arnold Classic weekend, scheduled to take place Mar. 4-5, 2022, in Columbus, OH, will host eight IFBB Pro League contests. Aside from the 34th edition of the Men’s Open Arnold Classic, the new Wellness International contest may be the most highly anticipated.
The reigning Wellness Olympia Champion, Francielle Mattos, will not be in this lineup. The 10 women that are going to compete at the Battelle Grand Ballroom in the Greater Columbus Convention Center will vie for what is considered the second most significant title in bodybuilding and bragging rights as the number one contender for Borges’ title.
2022 Arnold Classic Wellness Roster
- Sunny Andrews (USA)
- Yarishna Ayala (USA)
- Angela Borges (Brasil)
- Devyn Cambre (USA)
- Barbara Cesar (USA)
- Julia Chitarra (Brasil)
- Casey DeLong (USA)
- Kassandra Gillis (Canada)
- Isabelle Nunes (USA)
- Lorena Ragusa (USA)
Athletes to Watch
Borges was the runner-up to Mattos at the 2021 Olympia in Orlando, FL. She was second at the 2021 New York Pro to winner Yarishna Ayala before that placing. She won the 2021 Pittsburgh Pro prior. Borges was also the 2020 Europa Pro Wellness champion. It’s not always easy to spot top talent in such a nascent division, but Borges has worked hard to separate herself from her peers and is a top contender for the first-ever Arnold Classic Wellness title.
After spending five years as a Bikini competitor, Ayala transferred to the Wellness division. (Wellness is similar to Bikini, but with more of a focus on glute development and shape.) Ayala has never won a pro show but managed to place in the top five on three separate occasions. Bikini shows are notoriously popular, so breaking out into the top five is a notable achievement.
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Once Ayala switched to Wellness, her fortunes changed. Her victory at the 2021 New York Pro made her a favorite for the Olympia. Unfortunately for Ayala, she didn’t hit her peak condition and finished fourth. She will be looking for redemption when she faces the judges in Columbus. A win at this contest would put her right back in the conversation as a future Olympia champion.
Nunes earned her IFBB Pro League card by winning her class at the 2020 North American Championships. She made a splash on the pro scene by winning her first two contests — the Milwaukee Pro and the San Antonio Classic. Fans roared for Nunes at the Olympia when she strutted on stage. Nunes ended up placing third at the Olympia. Placing in the top three automatically qualifies her for the 2022 Olympia (from Dec. 16-18 in Las Vegas, NV).
While some Olympia-qualified athletes, such as Nick Walker, are opting to sit out other shows to prep solely for the O, Nunes is looking to gain some momentum and solidify herself as a threat.
Chitarra won the 2021 Europa Pro and placed fifth at the 2021 Olympia. She has stayed very lean in the offseason, so she won’t have to work as hard to get in peak condition.
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She will very likely be in the first callout, but she will have to be in her best shape yet if she is going to place ahead of the other favorites.
Dark Horse: Barbara Cesar
Cesar turned pro at the 2021 NPC Universe competition and has wasted no time impacting the pro scene. Her victory at the 2021 Tahoe Pro earned her a trip to Olympia. She wasn’t at her best in that show and placed 10th as a result. Next to the Olympia, there’s no other show better than the Arnold to pull off a big upset. Becoming the first Wellness International champ would surely vault Cesar to elite status in her division.
For more information, tickets, and access to the 2022 Arnold Classic pay-per-view, go to www.arnoldsportsfestival.com.
Featured Images: @yarishna and @chitarraju on Instagram