Olympia's upcoming weekend has many changes. This long-awaited show on bodybuilding and fitness takes place from September 12 to 15 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and in Las Vegas, in the conference center. For the first time, all eight finals of the Pro Olympic Division will be held in the arena, among other innovations – the main Olympic director Dan Solomon and his staff.
Another first – the current champion of Olympia will not compete for the "Sandow" – and the main prize of $ 400,000. The last time this happened in 1998 was when Big Nastya (aka Ronnie Coleman) won the first of his eight Olympic crowns, one season after reigning champion Dorian Yates resigned.
Last year's champion Sean Roden was disqualified due to rape charges. Also, probably, the seven-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath, who was upset by Roden in 2018, will be at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Not a word from Dara about the September competition, so at least for now, Heath is not in the lineup.
For fans of Kai Green, don’t hope and do not trust the unfounded rumors scattered on various website forums. He has not participated in Olympia since 2016, so I would be stunned if the Predator would compete.
There is a big difference in the scenarios of Heath and Green. Green had to apply for a special invitation (not done as of August 23) and be accepted in order to get another chance for the coveted Sandow. A hit automatically qualifies for life, so he can wait for a decision about the time of the game.
Now that these free ends are connected, let's figure out what we are working with this year at Mr. Olympia!
Category: Mr. Olympia
Current Champion: Sean Roden
My choice: Brandon curry
Concluding their major victory at Arnold Classic USA six months ago, many consider Curry an easy favorite over William Bonack, Rowley Winklaar and Dexter Jackson. A 5-foot, 7-inch curry weighing 240 pounds has an excellent balance of hardcore beef, a beautiful shape, strong conditioning and significantly improved wheels.
The 37-year-old from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, finished fifth in Olympia last year, climbing three slots from his eighth touchdown spot in 2017. “Slowly but surely” was Curry's theme, as he became pro with a win at the 2008 NPC US Championship.
However, his career was not without hiccups. In 2016, he did not even participate in Olympia, he was spanked at several foreign concerts, and he could only take eighth place at the Golden State Championship in Sacramento. This gave the experts enough bullets to start “it's all over” singing.
Hardly. Curry won three wins in 2017 and then showed his best results at Arnold Classic this year. Let's see if he is on a hot streak!
Titles: William Bonac, Rowley Winklaar, Dexter Jackson
Bonac, at 5 feet 5 and about 225-235 pounds, gave Curry a run for his money in Arnold. Bonac won the contest a year earlier, and some people felt that he deserved this nod again. Not the biggest guy on the show, of course, but definitely a serious contender for Sandow.
Curry has a better shape, bonac is thicker than muscle. Shape beat Arnold Classic USA – will history repeat itself? There was great rivalry.
The 42-year-old Winklaar has the largest muscle per inch among all those who participated in the competition, but the rather slender frame looked better than everyone last year when it rolled into third place. Thus, it no longer means better for a person from Curacao who was 265 heavy on stage (at 5 ft 6) but sat about 240 last season.
It's hard to believe I'm still writing about Jackson's chances for Olympia. I mean, the guy will only be shy for three months on his 50th birthday when he puts on his poses in Las Vegas this year. Going down to seventh in 2018, Benjamin Button's bodybuilding version looked amazing, winning his record 29th IFBB contest at Tampa Pro in early August.
He may be the oldest person in the field and definitely nowhere near the largest of 5 feet 7 and 230 pounds, but without a doubt, he is still one of the best. No Grim Reaper will be visited by the Blade in the near future.
Top Six Challengers: Josh Lenartovich, Cedric McMillan, Nathan DeAsha, Steve Kuklo
Lenartowicz is one big guy, about 6 feet tall, and weighs 265 pounds. His best finish at Olympia? Directly for medals for ninth place in 2016 and 2017. A few years ago, he finished third in the Arnold Classic and won his first IFBB victory at the 2017 Tampa Pro. At its best, Thunder from Underground can fight the rest for a landing in the top six.
Kuclo is another one of those powerful physiques that are distinguished by good symmetry. A former firefighter from Irving, Texas, was previously one of the top ten in Olympia and defeated Deasha on the California Pro a couple of years ago. Carrying 265 pounds of beef in his 6-foot frame, Kuklo has enough quality muscle to support himself in almost any show he includes. However, at 34 years old, Big Steve has no time to unleash this potential. Air conditioning, my man, air conditioning!
The story rarely changes for Cedric McMillan. He could have a better body in all composition at 6 feet 2 and 270 pounds, with a small waist and amazing symmetry. Macmillan was named "Next Lee Haney" after defeating the NPC Nationals in 2009.
Macmillan received a special invitation to this year's contest, as he is an active soldier based in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I have no problem with this solution. In addition, he missed the qualification by only one point.
His victory at the National was dominant, but that was 10 years ago. Macmillan is now 41 years old, and we are still waiting for him to boast of a physically fit Mr. Olympia at Olympia. I have used the word “if” too many times in relation to Macmillan’s ability to win it all. And I will use it again. Perhaps if he didn’t have a full-time job and could focus solely on his training, Macmillan might have Sandow or two in his case trophies.
Just think out loud.
I was always impressed with Nathan DeAsh's 5-foot-10-foot physique, but I must admit that I was a little disappointed with his backs in eighth place in the last two Olympics. Two years ago I had DeAsh as an X-factor, but in the end he became a non-factor. The time has come to prove that you still belong to the highest echelon of sports, Nathan!
The fight for a place in the Top 10: Juan Morel, Jonathan De La Rosa, Max Charles, Luke Sandoe, Michael Lockett
These bodybuilders will certainly enter the battle as each of them strives to get the top 10. Morel, 5 feet 11 and 250 pounds, participated in several Olympics, and his 10th place medalist in 2014 was his best. After winning last year at New York Pro and Arnold South Africa, De La Rosa looks like a real opportunity for another finish in the top 10.
Williams is known for his exploits of strength as well as for his success at the bodybuilding stage. His best exercises are 860 pounds deadlift, 840 pounds squat and 550 pounds bench press. Muscle Development magazine called him “The Strongest Bodybuilder in the World,” but Olympia, unfortunately for him, is not a power contest.
A 5-foot 10-inch, 260-pound Tampa Pro won in 2016, and last year suffered two narrow losses on the Muscle Mayhem and Toronto Pro shows. A couple of years ago he finished 15th in his only race at Olympia.
De La Rosa, who won Toronto Pro and Puerto Rico Pro this year, entered the Olympia stage twice and missed the top 10, so this is another chance for him to prove that he can hold on with the best in the world.
Max Charles, like Williams, is a big dude – 5 feet 10 and 265 pounds – and finished 13th at Olympia a couple of years ago. He has the tools to be in the top 10 this time.
British star Luke Sando looked pretty good, finishing third in Arnold Classic USA and second in Tampa Pro, so watch out for this muscular 5-foot 7-foot 240 pound.
Michael Lockett is able to beat all of the above. He looked solid when he successfully defended his Chicago Pro title this year, however, he should seem more conditioned than in the past. Lockett could be considered a long shot for the top 10, but this is not excluded.
The team is completed by Clarence De Vis from Belgium, Mohamed Shaaban from Egypt, Patrick Moore from the USA and Lucas Delivered from the Czech Republic.
Hadi Chopan is also on the Olympia list, but he had problems with his visa. Over the past few years, the Persian wolf, as it is called, has not been able to get to any contest in the United States. His status was still not determined at the time of printing. If Chopan somehow gets on the scene, I would immediately move him to the "Top Six Challengers" category.
Current Champion: Flex Lewis
My choiceDerek Lansford
The participants in this division were pleased to hear that James “Flex” Lewis finally moved to the open division after seven consecutive victories, where he will compete in 2020. Thus, the new champion will be crowned, and I feel it will be Derek Lansford, who has been a solid second after Lewis the last couple of years.
If not Lunsford, try Kamal Elgarni or Ahmad Ashkanani for size. They looked outstanding, finishing third and fourth respectively last year. Both will put pressure on Lansford, and any of them can leave the arena with a wallet for first place at $ 40,000.
Men's Fitness Olympia
Reigning Champion: Brandon Hendrickson
My choice: Ryan Terry
Another category is "pick them." Last season, Brandon Hendrickson won the first place prize of $ 20,000, and he is again trying to repeat his feat. Also coming back: runner-up Ray Edmonds and runner-up Ryan Terry – and I like Terry for being upset against Hendrickson.
But the guy providing the most interest in the division will be Jeremy Buendia. For those who don’t know about Buendia’s stellar career, he won the men's physique for four consecutive years, and then unexpectedly dropped to fourth in 2018.
Can he return to get the title he owned in 2015-2017?
Reigning championBreon Ansley
My choice: Breon Ansley (by hair)
If anyone can rip off Breon Ansley Express, Chris Bumstead of Canada is a guy. Ansley won the classic physique (and $ 20,000) at Olympia for two consecutive years, but not without a big push from Bumstead, who some thought could take the title in any of these clashes.
George Brown has always played a role in this division, but the competitor who also impressed me is another guy from Canada, Henri-Pierre Ano. New York Arash Rahbar and prominent Californian Dani Yunan are a couple of other gentlemen who can participate in the top five.
My sentimental choice is Danny Hester, the first ever Olympus classic physique winner in 2016 at the age of 47. Hester still looks amazing at 50 and can fight for a top five landing. Although he finished outside the top 10 last year, I guess Hester will bounce back with a much improved placement.