The Arnold Sports Festival (previously known as the Arnold Classic), is an annual multidisciplinary sports convention that began in 1989 and is named after Arnold Schwarzenegger. Taking place in late February or early March in Columbus, Ohio, United States, the ASF's expanding domain has historically focused on bodybuilding and fitness and figure competition.
A lucrative sports competition, the ASF offers a number of large prizes. Most notably, first prize in bodybuilding consists of a $130,000 check, a Hummer vehicle, and an Audemars Piguet watch. Since the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding title pre-dates and offers higher prize money than the ASF, a rivalry in prestige and popularity has sprung up. The ASF is always hotly contested, often with one or two competition points separating the winners.
The ASF includes three different competitions for women: Ms. International, Fitness International, and Figure International. It has also been expanded to feature competitions in gymnastics, all-star cheerleading, dance, fencing, table tennis, yoga, martial arts, strongman, archery, wrestling, powerlifting, and other sports. Beginning in 2006, events in boxing, martial arts and figure skating were added at Nationwide Arena.
The Arnold Strongman Classic has emerged as one of the highest profile events on the strongman calendar. The Arnold Expo is held in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, while finals for bodybuilding, fitness, figure, and strongman competitions are held in the Franklin County Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
All-star cheerleading competitions span a two-day period (usually all day Saturday, and to midday Sunday). More than 4,000 competitors entered the cheerleading event in 2014. Each team (comprised of 15-30 cheerleaders) prepares to perform a two and one-half minute routine. After the teams' routines are complete, they are scored by a panel of judges, each judge being an expert on one area of cheerleading (jumps, tumbling, stunting, etc.). Once scoring is complete, every team entered in the competition is called to the mat for awards, during which each team has a chance of winning multiple times. The ASF's awards consist of the following: National Champion jackets, trophies for every team, custom medals, limited edition patches and Grand Champion banners, and possible partial or full paid bid to Cheerleading World contests.
In June 7, 2013, the ASF's event promoter, Jim Lorimer, announced that in 2014, the ASF's 212 professional men’s bodybuilding division would replace the Ms. International women’s bodybuilding competition at the 2014 Arnold Sports Festival. Lorimer, in a statement, said “The Arnold Sports Festival was proud to support women’s bodybuilding through the Ms. International for the past quarter century, but in keeping with demands of our fans, the time has come to introduce the Arnold Classic 212 beginning in 2014. We are excited to create a professional competitive platform for some of the IFBB Pro League’s most popular competitors.”
- Greater Columbus Convention Center. "2013 Arnold Cheerleading & Dance Championships". Arnoldsportsfestival.com. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
- "Ms. International Dropped from 2014 Arnold Sports Festival". Hard Body News. June 7, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.