Ms. Olympia winners Iris Kyle and Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia prepare to make history again

by George DePirro

September 17, 2008


Following the Atlantic City Pro, the 17-woman field is now set for the 29th IFBB Ms. Olympia competition. The top six from last year’s event automatically earned a berth into this year’s show, yet each of them (except Heather Armbrust, who took the allotted time to attempt to improve on her fifth-place debut) played a significant role at the 2008 Ms. International five months later and should be the source of most of the attention at this year’s O tilt.

Conventional wisdom states that the Olympia champion needs to be “knocked out” to give up the title. But what do you have to do to beat someone who has won three out of the last four? Reigning champ Iris Kyle may be the best ever to bring proportionate muscularity to the contest stage. But she slipped up at the Ms. International in March, falling to seventh in the final placings. Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia, last year’s third-place finisher, could be Kyle’s biggest threat to a three-peat. Oriquen-Garcia won the Ms. International and seems to have regained the form that saw her win the 2005 Olympia. Dayana Cadeau, probably the most massive per square inch, has a knack for collecting the runner-up spot whenever Kyle or Oriquen are off, as she has in each of the last two Olympias. Armbrust, with a year to improve under her belt, could surpass them all in only her second Olympia.

Lisa Aukland has won at the Atlantic City Pro three years in a row; she may be the best in this lineup at shredding her physique even as she passes her 50th birthday on September 16. Betty Pariso is another competitor past age 50 who continues to improve with time.

Cathy LeFrancois (New York Pro), Nicole Ball (Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships) and Jennifer Sedia (Europa Super Show) each won during the season, but as all are on the lighter side, a spot in the posedown of this muscle contest may be the best result they can realistically hope for. Oklahoma City firefighter Sherry Smith should be applauded for her heavyweight win in Dallas, but her O debut will be only her third pro show. The rest of the rookies and seasoned veterans in this contest will be planning to unveil personal-best showings. At the epitome of the sport, that’s something to be proud about.

WHAT: Ms. Olympia
WHEN: Friday, September 26
PREJUDGING: Friday at 11 am, Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall
FINALS: Friday at 7 pm, Orleans Arena


Betty Adkins
Heather Armbrust
Lisa Aukland
Nicole Ball
Debbie Bramwell
Dayana Cadeau
Rosemary Jennings
Iris Kyle
Klaudia Larson
Cathy LeFrancois
Mah-Ann Mendoza
Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia
Jeannie Paparone
Betty Pariso
Brenda Raganot
Jennifer Sedia
Sherry Smith

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Iris Kyle and Yaxeni Oriquen ready for Las Vegas

NAME: Iris Kyle
AGE: 33
HEIGHT: 5’6″ WEIGHT:160 pounds
OLYMPIA HISTORY: 1999, 4th; 2000, 5th (heavyweight); 2001, heavyweight winner; 2002, 2nd (heavyweight); 2003, 2nd; 2004 heavyweight and overall winner; 2005, 2nd; 2006, winner; 2007, winner

NAME: Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia
AGE: 42
HEIGHT: 5’7″
WEIGHT:170 pounds
OLYMPIA HISTORY: 1998, 10th; 2000, 4th (heavyweight); 2001, 3rd (heavyweight); 2002, 4th (heavyweight); 2003, 3rd (heavyweight); 2004 3rd (heavyweight); 2005, winner; 2006, 7th; 2007, 3rd

Iris Kyle and Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia both know how what it takes to win a Ms. Olympia

Two weeks before the Ms. Olympia contest, FLEX requested responses from the two competitors who have claimed the title in the past: Iris Kyle (2004, 2006, 2007) and Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia (2005)

FLEX: What did you learn from this year’s Ms. International?
IRIS KYLE: Anything can happen. I’ve been the underdog throughout my whole career, even in the amateurs. I still go in with my eyes open and know that any given day I can be the winner or a loser. I don’t take the Olympia for granted. I’m very levelheaded and know that I’m not unbeatable, but there aren’t many people who are close to my kind of physique.
YAXENI ORIQUEN-GARCIA: Winning yet another Ms. International has been a very fulfilling experience. It’s proof that hard work and perseverance always pays off. Of course, being the first woman to win four titles at the Arnold is a great accomplishment.

FLEX: How do you feel about the women not being included at the press conference this year?
IRIS: It doesn’t bother me either way. We’re in the midst of trying to carb up, and sitting there for two hours can prevent us from getting properly prepared. They see us onstage and they see us at Meet the Olympians; I think that’s sufficient. The women are not so into all of the headbanging, so only a few of us really entertain the crowd.
YAXENI: Being an athlete, I try to concentrate exclusively on my end of the sport. Anything regarding organizational decision-making is simply something I have to accept.

FLEX: What do you expect to weigh at the Olympia?
IRIS: 160-162 pounds. Right now [on September 11], I’m at a weight of 165, and I’m really sharp. I’m going to look better than 2004. I’m like a Shawn Ray, everyone’s used to seeing my body in good shape, but not so much a different shape. This time I upped my protein and lowered my cardio, so I plan to come in round, full and still have that same condition.
YAXENI: I am not preparing myself according to weight; there are too many variables. I prefer to guide my preparation visually through what the mirror reflects. The same as every other time, I focus on arriving in the best possible condition with perfect harmony and full development, in order to maintain a highly competitive edge onstage.

Kyle is looking to win her fourth Ms. Olympia, while Oriquen-Garcia is shooting for title No. 2


FLEX: Who do you see as your toughest competition?
IRIS: You have the best of the best on the stage. I hate naming names, because I don’t want them to think that I think they look good enough to beat me. There are a couple people who have good potential to be Ms. Olympia in the future.
YAXENI: The women always arrive in supreme condition. At any given show, any one of the competitors could upset the favorites, so I prepare for all and underestimate none.

FLEX: What are your chances of winning the 2008 Ms. Olympia?
IRIS: It’s mine. My name is already on it. If my homework is complete and we set the political part aside, I’m going to win hands down. My shape, condition and muscle are going to be right on target. I’m on key. If we had to compete tomorrow, I’d be ready. [In two weeks,] I’m going to be extra ready.
YAXENI: At this point, the work is done and the final touches will determine the ones that complete the final stretch victoriously. The day of the show will tell who did their homework and who didn’t.