Maureen Blanquisco


Interview by Ron Harris

As the greatest Bikini competitor in the world, I think it’s time people learned more about you. I
know you were born in the Philippines. Were you athletic as a kid growing up?

I was very athletic. I attended a private elementary school named Dominican College, and I swam
competitively there. A bit later I got into Brazilian jiu-jitsu and gymnastics when I moved to Norway at age
13. My parents never had to force me into doing sports and being active. I was always asking them to do
those things.

When did you move to the USA?
It’s been three years now, since the 2019 Olympia.

Looking at you, I bet you could pass for 19 or 20, but how old are you?

Thanks, I just turned 30 at two weeks out from the Bikini International coming up.

How did you go from having done those other sports to weight training and then Bikini
I always loved competing and performing. I usually call it “performing” instead of competing. Swimming
was an individual sport. If I wanted to win, it all depended on me. I never liked depending on a team. If we
lost because of them, I would get very frustrated. When I moved to Norway, all my friends went into
gymnastics and cheerleading. I thought, I will try this out. Cheerleading was fine until one time we fell
during a stunt, and it wasn’t my fault. I said, I think I work better alone. I started lifting weights at age 18.
That’s around the time you want to look and feel good, putting on makeup. I was doing fitness training
anyway, so I started to look for something I could do competitively that fit that. I had always wanted to
compete in beauty pageants, but at 5 feet tall I was too short. Then I saw the Bikini Olympia on YouTube,
and the woman who stuck out to me the most was India Paulino. She was my first idol! I thought it looked
so cool. The women looked amazing, and this was the closest thing to a beauty pageant I could do. I
thought I could just go compete in the Olympia. I had no idea you have to turn pro first, then qualify, the
whole long process. But in my head, I only had one goal, to go to the Olympia.

Did you start competing locally in Norway?
It’s very different in Europe. You have to do the regional level first before you can go to the Nationals.
Then you can compete outside the country. There were no pro cards in Norway back then. I went to San
Marino, Italy to get my pro card in 2015. There were seven height classes. You need to win your class
and the Overall to get a pro card, which I did. I still didn’t really know what that meant at the time.

I don’t think I knew who you were until you did make it to the Olympia for the first time in 2019,
although now I do remember you winning the Tampa Pro that summer.
That was a tough year. Usually, I never do more than three shows in a year because it’s hard to recover.
My body wasn’t responding by the Olympia, my fourth show of that year. I know my limits.

What made you decide to move to the USA three years ago?
I met my partner, Fran, at the Meet and Greet at the 2019 Olympia Weekend. We got along very well, and
soon he asked me to move in with him in Los Angeles. Three years later, I’m still here!

And you train at Gold’s Gym Venice. It may not be what it used to be, but to me it’s still The

Yes. People still come there from all over. Even though there aren’t as many pros training there as there
used to be, the spirit is still there. They still have all the champion’s pictures up on the wall, and all the
great equipment. It’s still The Mecca.

You skipped the Olympia in 2020, the worst year of the pandemic.
Yes. I was prepping for two shows leading up to that, and both got canceled when I was just two weeks
out from the first. I didn’t want to sabotage my body when there was no way to even know if the shows
would happen. I decided to move into an “improvement season” and come back stronger for 2021.

And you were. Jumping ahead to your Olympia win in 2022, in your victory speech you said you
felt you would win but didn’t think it would be that soon. I wasn’t too surprised, because you had
been moving in an upward trajectory. But man, that was a big lineup. Was it 60 women in the 2022
Bikini Olympia?

It was 54, which was a record for the Olympia. When I was backstage waiting to be introduced, it felt like
it was never-ending, so many women! I just felt everyone had their favorites, and everyone had their
predictions, and I was still one of the newer athletes. I have very realistic expectations about myself.
When I placed fourth in 2021, that was already like winning because I had placed ninth the year before. I
was so happy. My goal for 2022 was third place, the top three. When they called Ashley Kaltwasser in
third and it was just me and Jennifer Dorie, I was like, whoa, maybe I have a chance!

This is an odd question to ask an athlete rather than a judge, but how do you think you pulled off
the win? To me, it was so close between you and Jennifer that it could have gone either way.

Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t look at the other women up there, and it’s not intentional. I will go look at
pictures and videos afterward in my hotel room. I do know I came in better than ever, and I think the
judges notice improvement. I looked way different from the 2021 Olympia. And I was so chill once I got to
the stage. I was like, I got this.

What do you attribute the improvements to? Was it a new coach, a new training or nutrition
I’ve always looked good, but we never really nailed the peak week and had the fullness I wanted to show
until this last Olympia. I did start working with a new coach, too, Francisco Espin from Spain. I’m the only
Bikini competitor he coaches. I look to see which coaches bring their athletes in with really great
condition. Once I saw what he did with my partner, I was very impressed and interested in that approach.
Why not try working with him? I had nothing to lose. I’d been coming in flat every time anyway. It worked
out pretty well!

The Bikini International is just 10 weeks after the Olympia. Did you already know you wanted to do
it before you won the Olympia?

I’d always wanted to do the Bikini International along with the Olympia, and I placed second to Lauralie
Chapados the first time I competed there in 2022. That felt like winning. I already signed the contract to
compete in the 2023 Bikini International before the Olympia. Ten weeks is at once a long time and a short
time between contests. But I was already lean, why not try to get that title too? Then I could have the two
biggest titles in the sport!

I assume you were already prepping 16 weeks for the Olympia.
I started prepping for the Olympia right after the Boston Pro in March, so that was seven months. It was a
very chill prep because I was eating clean, but I was eating more than ever in a prep. I was still dieting,
but it was more calories, and I did have one cheat meal a week. Now I see this is the best approach for
me: a longer prep but with more food.

How much does your weight vary from off-season to contest day?
I’m around 109-110 pounds onstage, and I don’t get much heavier than 115.

I assume you have never been much heavier than that?
I did try bulking once. My normal off-season weight is 53kg/116, and that time I got up to 65kg/143
pounds. I was eating six meals a day with meat and rice, 100 grams of fries, just trying to bulk like a
bodybuilder and gain some muscle. I couldn’t breathe! I was getting out of breath just going upstairs. It
was way too much weight for my frame.

You’ve never been in this position before as the reigning Olympia champion. Do you feel more
pressure than ever to win now?
I’ve been getting this question a lot. I have a different mindset than most. My goal was to win the Olympia.
Now that I’ve done that, I still hustle the same, but I can enjoy the process more.

The big news with you is that you are now a MuscleTech athlete. You’re too young to remember,
but they used to have literally every top athlete under contract, and now it looks like they are
returning to their roots. How did you become part of the team?
It wasn’t planned at all. It was a “Blessing” in disguise. I was training at Gold’s, and I happen to be a good
friend of Blessing Awodibu. We were both working for the same supplement company in Europe in 2015.
We went to Shanghai together for them, Barcelona, all over. Blessing was out representing MuscleTech
at the LA Fit Expo. I went to that and met Scott Welch, and we all connected very well. Now I’m a
MuscleTech athlete!

I’m just curious, did you go right back onto your diet after the Olympia, or did you relax for at least
a few days?
I did go on vacation to Hawaii with my partner the week after the Olympia. That was on my bucket list. I
did cardio every day, but I took five days off from weights. I had a couple of treats, but nothing crazy.

Thank you so much for the interview! Belated congratulations on your Olympia win and I wish you
the very best of luck in Columbus.
Thanks so much!

“Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. That’s part of the game. All I can do is keep working hard and
show up with poise and pride.”
In the end, Maureen was narrowly defeated by a margin of just two points to defending Bikini International
champion Lauralie Chapados, exactly the way it had turned out a year before in Columbus. She posted
this the next day:

“Of course, the goal was to win the title, but second place is great too! Our goal was to come in a bit
tighter than my Olympia shape and we definitely achieved that. I know I did everything I could, and the
rest is up to the judges. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. That’s part of the game. All I can do is
keep working hard and show up with poise and pride. Huge congratulations to all my ladies this


Contest Highlights
2016 Olympia Amateur San Marino – Winner – Earned Pro Card
2018 Alicante Pro – Winner
2018 Dennis James Classic Germany – Winner
2019 Miami Muscle Pro – Winner
2019 Tampa Pro – Winner
2019 Bikini Olympia – Ninth Place
2021 Chicago Pro – Second Place
2021 Janet Layug’s Battle of the Bodies – Winner
2021 Bikini Olympia – Fourth Place
2022 Bikini International – Second Place
2022 Boston Pro – Winner
2022 Bikini Olympia – Winner
2023 Bikini International – Second Place

2022 Bikini Olympia champion Maureen Blanquisco is the top-ranked Bikini pro in the world, with six pro
wins including the Boston Pro in 2022 and the Tampa Pro in 2019. Another career highlight for Maureen
was this year when she joined the team of MuscleTech ® athletes, and Maureen recently shared with MD
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