'09 NATIONALS: TIME TO STEP UP

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The time is now for top Nationals contenders Lee Banks and Fred Smalls.

By Greg Merritt

November 19, 2009

FLEXONLINE.COM

Great potential — it’s one of the clichés of bodybuilding, and the longer you hear it the more it sounds like a veiled insult, like the girl with a “great personality.” We at FLEX have long recognized the pro promise of Lee Banks and Fred Smalls. Banks was one of our four “Who’s Up” guys after he burst on the scene with a sixth at the 2005 Nats, and we did some deep scouting to spot Smalls when he debuted at the 2006 Nationals. Though he finished a distant 10th, we made him one of our “4 To Watch.” More and more people have been noticing them ever since, and after Banks and Smalls placed second and third, respectively, in this year’s USA's, enough with the unfulfilled promise. It’s time for one of them to take the next step.


FRED SMALLS
AGE: 34
HEIGHT: 5’7”
WEIGHT: 217 pounds
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 2008 USA, heavyweight, 3rd; 2008 Nationals, heavyweight, 5th

Collectively, they’ve done a dozen pro-qualifiers over the past four years with greatly varying results. Floridian Banks has been closer to the top of the heavy class (top three in his last four outings). His legs have held him from the top, but he’s progressively bringing them up to the high standards of his upper half. Delawarean Smalls had enough proportional muscle at the ‘05 Nats. His legs have held him from the top, but nailing conditioning has been a struggle. Bank on Banks if his wheels are fuller, and yet Smalls is never small and if he finally peaks he’ll be hard to deny. One of them may finally shed the moniker “great potential” by fulfilling it at the 2009 NPC Nationals on November 20-21.

LEE BANKS
AGE: 37
HEIGHT: 5’8”
WEIGHT: 218 pounds
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 2009 USA, heavyweight, 2nd; 2008 USA, heavyweight, 3rd; 2008 IFBB North American, heavyweight, 2nd

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