CLOVIS -- Maricela Lemus had had enough of seeing her boyfriend, César Martínez, pile up statue after statue in bodybuilding competitions.
That total -- including the overall titles in two April events -- reached 13 statues and one sword.
The 2003 McLane High School graduate, who will celebrate her 27th birthday on Friday (June 15), also figured she could compete in the sport.
Last Saturday night, Lemus accomplished her mission by winning the women's bikini unlimited at the inaugural Clovis Muscle Shoot Out at the Mercedes Edwards Theater.
"I had to at least get one to put in the collection," laughed Lemus after the competition.
Although she didn't win the overall bikini title, Lemus was pleased. She decided to compete only two days prior to the competition.
"I wasn't going to do the show," she said. "I used it as practice for a show in August. I've only been training for a month. This (win) was unexpected. I'm glad I entered."
For Lemus, this marked her second competition. She entered her first show last year, and finished seventh out of 15 competitors.
"I look completely different now," said Lemus, who noted she was "too lean" in her inaugural competition.
Lemus stands 5-feet tall, and weighs 102 pounds. That is why she works on her upper body to make her stand out among competitors that tower over her.
The bikini competition, said Lemus, is more than just looking good. The body needs to be in proportion. The training and diet are just as necessary as the women's physique division.
That means weight training, cardiovascular workouts and watching her diet.
Even if her parents can't comprehend why their daughter -- who was born in Puruándiro, Michoacán, México -- isn't as curvier as most Latinas.
"They really don't understand," said Lemus, who will eat seven times a day and stay away from her mother's tempting Mexican dishes to stay in shape.
Lemus prefers to stay in the bikini division instead of jumping into the women's physique.
"I think I do good in the bikini division," said Lemus, who ran track and cross country and played soccer in high school.
Lemus is more than just a pretty face. She is on track to obtain her master's degree in counseling from Fresno State University next semester. She works as a substitute teacher.
Lemus said she has seen more and more Latinos get into bodybuilding, although Clovis Muscle Shoot Out organizer Jim Reyes said Latinos have always been present in bodybuilding.
Part of the Latino surge, believes Lemus, is the success that her boyfriend has enjoyed.
"Before César started to win overall titles, it was rare to see a Latino do that," said Lemus.
It may be next year before Martínez returns to competition. He is taking time to add body mass to compete in the light heavyweight division.
"I think I'm ready now, but it will take me a while," said Martínez. "I want to be the biggest."
His body fat was 2.3 percent in April. It is now 9.1, but Martínez believes he'll be down to "the low 3s" when he's ready for light heavyweight competition.
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