Sheru Classic: 20-yr-old medical student Nicole Nagrani also a champion bodybuilder
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When she takes the stage at Delhi's IG Stadium on October 6 at 'Sheru Classic' — the third richest bodybuilding competition in the world — the cheers for Nicole Nagrani won't just be because she is of Indian origin. While her background makes her a rarity in the sport, the 20-year-old is also a serious contender for the Women's Bikini category title.
Very few people of Indian origin compete professionally in bodybuilding. Only two — Premchand Dogra and now Nagrani — have ever taken the stage at Olympia, the most prestigious event of the sport, and one made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger's seven titles. But while Dogra finished last in his category back in 1989, Nagrani has won once in her three attempts, and was placed second and third the other two times.
Indeed, as Nagrani herself says, her Indian background becomes a talking point only after her achievements, which include the fact that she is just out of her teens, is a medical student, and has never been placed outside the podium in her career.
Based in Florida, Nagrani credits her parents for her entry into the sport. Her mother Kirsten competes as a professional bodybuilder in the women's figure category, while her father Mark, who was born in Lucknow, is a doctor who participates in triathlons.
Nagrani herself started competing in fitness competitions as a 14-year-old. She shifted to the Bikini category at 18. Introduced at Olympia only three years back, the category, in contrast to the women's figure class, concentrates more on muscle tone than on muscle size.
"The judges like to see that you have muscle, but not an excessive amount that makes you suitable for the figure category," says Nagrani, relatively petite at 5 ft 2 inches and 112 pounds.
The defending champion, Nagrani was in fact the favourite for the Olympia title on September 27 this year, but was beaten to second place. However, as observers point out, unlike her competitors for whom training for the Olympia is the sole focus, Nagrani has to balance her training with studies.