The 1980 Mrs. Olympia: the start of a practice

This article was written by Bill Dobbins and appeared in the February 1981 issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine. Since Ms. Olympia is a standard tradition today, it is interesting to note how it was started and what the mindset was like in 1980.

"My God," said the young man, looking in the doorway to watch the contestants register for the Ms. Olympia competition from the prejudice. "I can't believe how beautiful they all are!"
It was a comment that said a lot about the first ever Olympics for women, as well as the current state of bodybuilding for women in general.

Indeed, they were beautiful. In street clothes, high heels, makeup, coiffed and radiant, it was difficult to imagine the same women being accused so many times of being masculine, androgynous, or even grotesque. They weren't any of those things. You were beautiful.

Bill Dobbins

Patsy Chapman with a superstar model's cheekbones; Carmen Lusko, who has the most engaging smile in the world; Rachel McLish with the long, slender lines of a racehorse; Auby Paulick, charm and energy in equal parts; April Micotra, Stacey Bentley, Georgia Miller, Lynn Conkwright and more – the top professionals, the best of the breed, gathered to choose the champion of champions, the first woman in the Olympics.

In some ways, of course, this wasn't the Olympics. You can't just call something at Olympia and automatically host an event with the prestige and tradition of men's Olympic competition. Traditions take time to develop. But you have to start somewhere, and that was a promising start. Those who claimed it was nothing more than "George Snyder's Women's Contest With a New Name" simply missed the point.

And as beautiful as these young women were, they knew full well that they were not here for a beauty pageant. Facial beauty is important in bodybuilding for both men and women. It certainly never hurt Steve Reeves. Bodybuilding is more than just aesthetics, however. It has to do with muscle and physical development, and no one was more aware of it than the competitors at Ms. Olympia in Philadelphia. They had worked long and hard for this competition and were ready.

In fact, the competition was just one aspect of an entire weekend devoted to bodybuilding. The association had planned two days of seminars in the people of George Snyder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu and Bill Drake (with stars like Arnold, Franco, Frank Zane, Mike Mentzer and Danny Padilla), an exhibition of some of the latest developments in exercise equipment and products the health industry and a large banquet before the final of the competition.

"The turnout is fantastic," George Snyder told me on the afternoon of the competition. “I had to turn away almost 1,000 people. And further inquiries keep coming back! "

George had expected a good turnout, but that was different. In fact, the underestimation of audience interest led to the weekend's only problem – the prejudice was held without an audience, as George didn't believe enough people would be interested to justify ticket sales. But the amount of fans hanging in front of the hall proved that he was wrong.

"What happened," George explained, "is that we wanted to use the main auditorium for the seminars, so we decided to use a smaller room upstairs for the prejudice." Little did I know so many people want to see it, believe me, next we will make sure tickets are available for the prejudice. If bodybuilding fans want something, I think they should get it. That's what makes good shows, and good shows are what we're interested in. "

Mrs. OlympiaBill Dobbins

And so the women stood before the judges and the prejudices began. Dressed in costumes that revealed their full muscles to the naked eye, there was no longer any doubt that these women were actually bodybuilders. They were lean and hard, and the malleability of their bodies relied on the abundance of muscles rather than the padding of fat.

There were a total of 21 participants. Only a handful were not in tip-top shape, and there was one competitor who had nothing to do with entering this competition. But Snyder, realizing the type of contest he was presenting, had chosen to be lenient in accepting submissions.

"The original idea," he said, "was that an Olympia should only have participants who had won national titles." But when I looked at it, I found that many of the so-called "national" titles that some of the women had won were really just big name local competitions – and that some of the best female bodybuilders out there may be left out when We tried to be too rigid in the whole thing. "

Instead, it was decided to open the competition to professional female bodybuilders who had won a legitimate competition, and gradually cut qualifications from year to year as female bodybuilding increased and competitions increased.

“Doing it like this,” continued Snyder, “is better for bodybuilding, for the women, and especially for the audience because it gives them a better show. And let's face it, if we don't have an audience, women's bodybuilding is going nowhere. The fans make it all possible. "

When Christine Zane, Valerie Coe, Sven-Ole Thorson, Harold Poole, Dan Howard, Mike Katz, and Doris Barrilleaux began their long job as judges, the seminars began below. Arnold went out discussing the psychology of bodybuilding, followed by Franco on injuries, Zane on nutrition, John Balik on steroid issues, and Dr. Anita Columbu on training women.

When Arnold got up to address the audience, it was immediately apparent how much bigger he had gotten and that he needed to get serious about training again. But there was still no indication of his plans for a comeback.

Upstairs, the prejudice followed the normal IFBB rules, which were identical to those of the Mr.Olympia. There were three rounds in the afternoon:

Stand relaxed, seen from all four sides;
Mandatory poses, six in total: two front poses, two back poses, arms above head in one, lowered in the other; and two side shots, one from each side.
Free posing (the individual's individual posing routine).
In the evening there was another round with free posing and a pose down, in which each judge selected a competitor as the winner. For each vote in first place, a participant would add one point to her total score.

Rachel McLish appeared to be the immediate front runner. This was only her third competition, but she had won an impressive Atlantic City competition earlier this year, done well in the Zane competition, and now looked even better in Philadelphia. It was by no means certain, but there was no doubt that she was the one to beat.

Unfortunately, some of the most famous women were not in the best shape. Patsy Chapman was beautiful in shape and proportions, as always, but it was way too sleek. Stacey Bentley wasn't as cut up as in the Zane competition, either. "I think I've just tried to do too many competitions in a row, do too many shows and stay in training for too long," she later admitted. "I've seen it happen to men, and now I know it can happen to me too." A calm, inconspicuous photographer, armed only with two very small, old-fashioned Leicas, was taking pictures continuously. This was George Butler, who shot the photos for the book version of Pumping Iron. In Philadelphia, he took photos for an updated version that will include women's bodybuilding.

By the time the prejudice ended it was pretty clear how the battle for the first was going to develop. Rachel McLish was without a doubt a top contender. But she got close competition from a petite blonde dynamo named Auby Paulick, who was seeing her first national competition. That night, the Philadelphia Sheraton auditorium filled early for the banquet. Among the hundreds of guests, the competitors say and (most) ate sparingly. In a short time they would be called backstage to get ready and the show would begin.

MsOlympiaBill Dobbins

After dinner, the audience was treated to a number of guest posers. Ron Teufel received a warm welcome and looked perhaps a little better than he was at Mr. America a week later. Mike Mentzer appeared like a house. Frank Zane looked a little drawn and tired from a training accident in early August.

The highlight of the exhibitions, in my opinion, was the double posing routine of Boyer and Valerie Coe. For one thing, Boyer was in phenomenal shape, sticking to his schedule that asked him to climax for the Mr. Olympia. But beyond that, there was the excellence of the routine itself: a combination of athletic and aesthetic elements that few men's and women's teams have achieved. It was like a pairs running routine, with Boyer showing strength and athleticism in a series of well-executed lifts, and Valerie flowing with his movements like she wasn't constrained by gravity.

w it was time for the show itself. Back in the small changing rooms, unlike the men's events, the women were happy and bubbly. drawn faces and withdrawn personalities here. Just a nervous anticipation, a lot of excitement and competitors turning on to apply oil to the next back.

The second competitor was Anniqa Fors, a beautiful blonde Danish girl who was discovered by Sven-Ole Thorsen. Anniqa is really just a beginner in bodybuilding, but she showed tremendous potential. Later we saw Corinne Machado, who showed such a quality of development that it was certain that she would place well; and then there was Auby Paulick.

Auby took the stage as Patton conquered Sicily. It sent out beams of energy into the audience and people responded with by far the greatest enthusiasm of the evening. It turned out that Auby had considerable experience as a professional dancer in her native Michigan, and she is no stranger to performing in front of an audience. If the competition had been decided based only on the audience's reaction to this final round, she would have been the clear winner.

It was almost unfair to ask Lynn Conkwright to follow up on such an act, but if someone had to do it, she was a good choice. Lynn has such tremendous power and control over her body that in her posing routine she can do things that many others can't, and the audience quickly caught up and gave her her arrival.

Then Rachel McLish came out. Her routine was meticulous and precise, but something was missing – maybe some momentum, the right kind of energy. It seemed a little too "ladylike". At the same time, the quality of her body was unmistakable, so the routine might serve its purpose. "What a thoroughbred!" Mike Mentzer said admiringly, and that roughly sums it up.

After everyone had completed their posing routines, the top 5 were called for a poseown: Rachel McLish, Auby Paulick, Lynn Conkwright, Corinne Machado, and Stacey Bentley. When the competition was close, this was a chance for contestants to make up the difference, and they worked as hard as any lineup of male professionals. And then we made the judge's decision. The winner was Rachel, followed by Auby, Lynn, Corinne and Stacey. It was over. The first woman Olympia had been awarded.

Mrs. OlympiaBill Dobbins

Many in the audience were surprised that Auby Paulick hadn't won. After all the audience had not seen the prejudice, they could only go on what had happened on stage during the evening show. And Auby had clearly dominated that aspect of the show for the crowd. But if we take a closer look at the scores for all three laps, I realize what happened. The prejudice scores for Rachel and Auby were as follows:

Once again, Auby tied Rachel, but she was too far behind to win even if all seven judges had voted for her. But the audience question would have asked why Auby, who was so well received by the crowd, didn't do better than Rachel.

"Auby did a great job entertaining the audience," one judge (a judge who, by the way, gave Auby one of her first votes) told me, "but we weren't there to judge a popularity contest." Much of what she did on stage had nothing to do with bodybuilding. But as for the presentation of her body, I thought she did well, and I rated her pretty good. Although Rachel didn't get to the audience like Auby, she also presented her body well and I rated her highly as well. "

It seemed Rachel showed a bond with her ballet training and may have approached her from a slightly too conservative angle. However, this was only her third competition so she will no doubt develop new routines in the future.

Admittedly, Auby hadn't trained long and never trained hard enough consistently to develop full muscle shape like Rachel. However, the development it has already achieved shows that it had exceptional potential. If she continued like this, she would have a bright future in bodybuilding.

Rachel and Auby are both attractive, charismatic, and good representatives of the sport. But it speaks well for the Ms. Olympia competition, the judges involved, and women's bodybuilding overall that the best physique won the day when it came to the wire.

When that happens, everyone wins; If not, we all lose.

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