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The Item: Fitness Industry Event, Special Appearances, IFBB Pro League Contest Preview, Andrew Oye's IFBB Pro Athletes Roundup

The Scoop: Fitness and fun for all ages, the world's largest multi-sport fitness event - the 2010 Arnold Sports Festival - is upon us. This weekend, the international sports and fitness community will converge on Columbus, Ohio to witness and participate in 44 sports and events (March 4-7).

The "So What?": Winner of the 2009 IFBB Pro Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic Bodybuilding Championships, IFBB Pro K. Greene will return to Columbus to attempt a replay of his triumphant title win from last year. Greene faces tough competition from a dozen other top IFBB Pro League athletes who all have their eyes on the $130,000 prize.

The Arnold Classic lineup includes: 2008 Mr. Olympia IFBB Pro Dexter Jackson (a vet and 3-time Arnold Classic winner), IFBB Pro Melvin Anthony (fresh off his Phoenix Pro Championships win), IFBB Pro Toney Freeman (a favorite who needs a high placing to remain so), IFBB Pro Phil Heath (a favorite who needs more pro wins to justify the hype), IFBB Pro Branch Warren (who claimed a surprising 2nd place finish at the 2009 Olympia), IFBB Pro Hidetada Yamagishi (who has a new trainer and is showing improvements), IFBB Pro Johnnie Jackson (who made a name for himself in powerlifting), IFBB Pro Tarek Elsetouhi (2008 Arnold Amateur Bodybuilding Championships winner), IFBB Pro Roelly Winklaar (2009 Arnold Amateur winner), IFBB Pro Robert Piotrkowicz, IFBB Pro Ronny Rockel, and IFBB Pro Sergey Shelestov.

"We are extremely pleased that we have the greatest field of competitors that we have ever presented for the 2010 Arnold Classic," says Jim Lorimer, co-producer of the Arnold Classic and the Arnold Sports Festival.

On the ladies' side, 4-time winners IFBB Pro Iris Kyle and IFBB Pro Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia lead a field of 14 women bodybuilders seeking a share of $55,500 in prize money in the 22nd Ms. International Championships. "The match-up between Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia and Iris Kyle will be a great one because both are at the top of their game and finish consistently high in international competition," Lorimer adds.

Thirty-four other women will vie for $99,000 in the Ms. Fitness International and Ms. Figure International contests. Columbus' own IFBB Pro Julie Palmer leads the field of 15 Fitness International competitors. Among the lineup of 19 Figure International competitors will be 2009 Figure Olympia winner IFBB Pro Nicole Wilkins.

The top 400 amateur competitors from around the world will compete at the Arnold Amateur Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure and Bikini Championships. "We have athletes from 40 different countries competing this year making it one of the biggest international events of its kind," says Amateur Event Co-Producer Bob Lorimer.

Amateur event co-producer Mike Davies adds, "We wish past Arnold Amateur Champions Roelly Winklaar, Elena Shportun-Willemer, Sylvia Tremblay, Candice Houston and Allison Ethier the best of luck as they compete against the world's top professionals in the Arnold professional IFBB events."

Many Arnold Sports Festival participants are youth competing in archery, boxing, cheerleading, dancesport, fencing, figure skating, gymnastics, martial arts, skateboarding, table tennis, strongman, weightlifting and wrestling. Top student-athletes compete for one of nine $2,000 college scholarships presented by the Columbus Rotary and the Arnold Sports Festival.

Andrew Oye's Verdict: All in all, the Arnold Sports Festival weekend promises to be one filled with the celebration of athletics and the rewarding of those who excel in those endeavors. Not only is the Arnold Classic a major lead-in to the other events on the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness contest schedule, it often serves as a forecast of placings at the IFBB Pro League contest season closer -- the prestigious Joe Weider's Olympia Weekend.

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