Arnold Sports Festival begins with ladies’ amateur competition

Arnold Sports Festival competitor Lajla Cosovic, of Sweden, exits the spray tanning booth on March 1, 2018. (WCMH photo)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Thousands of athletes are descending on downtown Columbus for the 30th annual Arnold Sports Festival.

Named after legendary bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, the festival has become the world’s largest of its kind since its inception in 1989.

The event draws more than 20,000 athletes to Columbus and nearly 200,000 fans every year.

Many of the athletes are also making their first trips to the United States.

“I’m really excited to be here,” said first-time bikini competitor Lajla Cosovic, of Sweden. “The people here [in Ohio] are so nice.”

The Arnold Sports Festival runs through Sunday.

For a calendar of events, click here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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