"In the eye of the beholder"
by Sarah Parr
After months of gruelling training and seemingly endless days spent dieting, the competitive bodybuilder finally steps on stage.
Lining up next to other hungry hopefuls, all there for one purpose and to find out one vital thing- who will be taking home a top ranking?
The power to dictate the outocme is bestowed upon the judges, a power that is soberly balanced with great responsibility.
And while I've always held to the theory that the only athlete ever truly satisfied is the winner- it is understandably natural to be curious about the reasons for your placing.

So let's sit down on "the other side of the long white table" and get a not-often heard perspective from judge and athlete, Greg Mawson.


1) Greg, as a currently competitive athlete and a judge, you've got the benefit of knowing what it's like to be both on and sitting before the stage. Do you think being an athlete changes how you judge?

It was a chance to give back to the sport I love. Also, it was a chance to go to a competition without competing. I've only been to watch two competitions since I started competing, and have been back stage manager a couple of times also. That was ok, but watching was really hard as I wanted to be up there competing. As an athlete and a judge, you know how much effort goes into getting up on stage. To be honest, being a judge is hard work mentally, as you want to make the right decision to respect the athletes.

2) What do you think are necessary qulaities in a judge?
To judge to the criteria of the class, compare an athlete to the others on stage on that day.

3) Have there ever been instances when you haven't agreed with a decision regarding placings?

Ha ha on both sides of the coin! But seriously, you are in a team of others from different walks of life, some have no desire to be a body-builder but love the sport all the same. Some like myself have done a few shows and judge also. It is a very subjective sport, and sometimes decisions may not be what you expect, but there is generally a reason why.


4) In your opinion, what makes a great physique? What do you look for?
Symmetry proportion and muscularity. I personally feel posing really matters. You have have the best physique up there, but if you can't pose and bring it out. Also, we can only judge what we can see, so if you don't get your tan right....

5) Would you discuss a placing decision with judges after the show if you didn't agree?

We always have a look at the results after the judging rounds for the class placings and there is a time for discussion then.

6) what's been the worst reaction to a decision that you've ever seen (if any)?

One was where the athlete in second place had a big meal during the break and came back at night fuller and clearly looked better than the person in first place, but the judging for classes is done in the morning. The crowd at night didn't understand and there was a big reaction from them.
The other was the other ways round; the person who won had something "wrong" for lunch and actually looked really bad so it looked like we picked a "not so lean" person for first place.

Other than that, after a decision you can sometimes see athletes drop or slump. Most athletes would have heard "Buy some photo's or the DVD" as they don't usually lie.

7) Whats the most difficult aspect of being a judge?
Knowing how much effort goes in, and when it's so close, having to pick a winner when it's not clear cut. Probably the worst thing is seeing the best athete up there but can't pose. That's like turning up to a gun fight with a knife, but you still see it all the time. Also when you have an athlete who has an amazing physique but should be in another class e.g. a lean, vascular lady in shape when she should be in figure.


8) What's the best thing about being a judge? perks etc?
Ha ha another good question! Well, I think it's good for me as an athlete to have an open mind, and also as I'm a PT, it pays to know what judges are looking for so you can pass this on to clients. There are some PT's with clients who have no idea what constitutes a class or how to pose yet are getting their clients to compete. On that note, I suggest attending the PT courses being run by various federations on the odd occasion.

I've only judged when I've been looking at competing later in the year, so I am not often partial to the "perks' We normally get lunch and are often lollies on the table and I don't like lollies. Of recent times, area reps have been getting bakery's to sponsor so there have been assorted stuff there.

9) So what's it like "hanging with the officials" after the comp? Do things get wild or is it pretty sedate?
Ha ha Generally they get in the thick of it themselves with the athletes. I't a hard day for all at the comp, you are shattered mentally by the end of it.

10) any funny "behind the scenes" stories to re-tell? Something the athletes wouldn't know about?
Not so much behind the scenes, it's all very serious at the start; a speech about judging to criteria and so forth is always given, but more I can't believe I still see athletes chewing gum! Don't do it!

Sarah Parr
March 2013

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