This year marked the 5th straight victory of Ronnie Coleman at the 2002 Mr. Olympia and from all accounts, he could go on as long as he wants! Nothing special, since I predicted he could show up in a wheel chair and still win the show but a few guys surprised me to say the least! Kevin Levrone & Gunther Schlierkamp were the toast of the town, drowning out much of the applause regulated for the champion. Let’s get the contest!
1st) Ronnie Coleman: This guy was unstoppable from the Rear but definitely beatable from the front! Not one person could match the champion from the rear especially on the back thickness, glute & hamstring detail! Shredded is the word! That being said, it is not what the champion has that makes him questionable for always being a 'Lock' but what he doesn’t have that could mark him down from having “Perfect Scores” i.e.; No quad separation, weak abs, slouching shoulders and posing difficulties. So you see, there is room take out the champion but on this night no one had enough of the Right Stuff to fully exploit Ronnie’s weaknesses.
2nd) Kevin Levrone: This guy should get the Comeback of the Year award! I said in my pre-contest predictions on Flex Magazine that this guy was all over the map regarding training, music, the gym business and fiancé’ relationship problems. He lacked the focus needed to do real damage and would b lucky to crack the top 5! Well, I want to give Kevin the props he deserves right here and right now! The Winningest pro in the history of bodybuilding, 4 Time 1st Runner-up at the Olympia, 3 Time Arnold Classic Winner and certainly had an argument to be the winner of the show depending on what your individual tastes are. Kevin had without a doubt the best shoulders, Triceps and serratus in the entire show! He even brought up his thighs and with detail no doubt! Personally from where I sat, I could have had Kevin in 1st in an upset victory based on self-improvements alone!
3rd) Chris Cormier: bless his heart. He came to this show after a great run in the spring placing 2nd in the ASC and winning a few others but along the way rumors circulated about him like Hurricane Lugo in Florida a few years back! This guy over came legal issues related to some domestic problems and nabbed the 3 spot narrowly over a much-improved Dexter Jackson. This placement was questionable at best. Although Chris is strong in the symmetry round he was not as impressive in the muscularity round. He was holding considerable water from the rear and was about 5-8lbs too heavy for a show this big. The judges in my book were more than generous here, as Chris didn’t seem to have the fire and hunger on stage as he has in years past.
4th) Dexter Jackson: This guy came ready! I told him a year ago he was competing too much to make the gains necessary to make an impact, thus only the Arnold Classic and bam! He moves from 7th a year ago to 4th this year at the Big Dance! The knock on Dexter is still there, he can’t do much with the high lats and long torso but he has kept a close eye on those thighs, which were in danger of getting too big compare to the rest of his body and kept the detail which helped him become a professional in the first place. Still needs to focus on the calves but overall, brought a balanced complete physique to the stage that is worthy of his placement. I felt he could have beaten Chris in the end without argument from anyone.
Fast Forward One Week to the British Grand Prix:
1st Place, Dexter Jackson! His 1st Pro win of his career with Dennis James 2nd and Chris Cormier in 3rd!
5th) Gunther Schlierkamp: The crowd favorite in Spades! This guy was second on my list of most improved much of the improvement came in the form of conditioning. Gunther, the most popular guy on stage, came in shape at held a body weight just under 300lbs which is incredible by itself! Always smiling and genuinely grateful for his placement made a serious statement as to what the fans like and he thanked them for there support after the Only Standing Ovation of the evening. Still not the most genetically gifted of the top guys he worked with what he had and the judges rewarded him for it. Is he a top 3 threat? Not in my book but certainly deserving of top 5 based on the kind of condition he brought to the stage and then some! Size is important but without conditioning you get left in the dust, not this time for the German Giant.
6th) Lee Priest: The Little Big Man continued his remarkable ability to get in shape! A scant year ago he was off-season 275lbs and now much more focused and settled with his new sponsors Twin Labs; he keeps his weight down between shows and is able to achieve great conditioning because of it. Lee, the shortest guy onstage and 2nd most popular of the evening, came out strong with huge guns and quads, his strengths but still needs to drop a couple pounds and seriously focus on slicing up the quads and hams to be comparable to the top dawgs! He is still one of the youngest guys and if he keeps his hunger and we don’t lose him to racing NASCAR, he should be on the money in a couple years as his muscles hit the right kind of maturity to actually balance things out against the older guys.
7th) Flex Wheeler: Flex announced to me personally that he was doing the Mr. O clean as a whistle back in September. He even suggested that he would be taking a drug test and making it public after the show. That being said, we were to train for the O this year but due to conflicting schedule we never got together except for some last minute posing sessions in the locker room a couple weeks out from the show. Alone, I had Flex in 2nd behind Ronnie without seeing the other guys. He was balanced, cut and still held considerable size! I was concerned about the fact that there was NO DIURETIC TESTING THIS YEAR and that he would be a victim of not using them. In the end when he hit the stage my fears became his reality! He was soft from the rear, his problem areas Hams and Gluts. He was holding about 5lbs of water and swore off diuretics completely. Being a Born Again Christian, Flex is no longer interested in damaging his body with artificial enhancers and therefore competing against the enemy without a Loaded Gun. Still overall, I admire what he accomplished, as I know how far he had to climb to get back on that stage and his stance is to be applauded as he still beat some formidable competitors and stood his ground on his beliefs!
8th) Marcus Ruhl: Talk about BIG? Marcus, this year’s winner of the Night of Champions, was HUGE! He with all his size he still needed the conditioning of Gunther Schlierkamp to be taken seriously in the top 5. Marcus, out of the top 10 a year ago, seemed to be pleased with his effort but felt he beat Flex and that would have made his career if he had! Marcus needs to work on back detail, which is the strength of those in front of him, and if possible, drop a few pounds and work on his conditioning. Nevertheless, a sweet revenge of his upset loss to Art Atwood, who didn’t place in the top ten after beating Marcus in Toronto a few months earlier.
9th) Orville Burke: I had Orville placing around this spot prior to the show in my earlier predictions based on the depth of the show. I stated he needed to seriously work on the size of his arms, mainly his triceps, to ever be taken seriously above the top 6! He came in big but not a shard or as conditioned as a year ago. His skin still too thick for the detail needed on this level but his size and huge shoulder to waist ratio, kept hope alive for a top 10 finish! I personally had in 10th but my opinion doesn’t factor into the scoring.
* News Flash! Orville a few days after the Mr. O was doing a photo shoot at Milos Sarchev’s Gym in Fullerton, Ca. when he tore or popped some tendons or ligaments while warming up with 65lbs dumbbells to perform Flyes with Dennis James and Chris Lund for Flex Magazine! No details as to the final outcome only that he was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
10th) Dennis James: Personally, this one hurt the most. I helped Dennis during the final weeks on his posing and genuinely felt his pain as the callouts during prejudging passed him by. He was right where he wanted to be; confident of his condition and missed the mark as prejudging wore on. Dennis knows he belongs in the top 6 but for whatever reason peaks after the show is over. He just recently placed 2nd in the British Grand Prix only a week after the Olympia and was near his All Time Best! Timing is everything, the Olympia can come down to a matter of hours, Dennis will bounce back as he already has and plans on a Full year off after the next couple shows in the coming weeks. He competed in the ASC, got married, travels in from Thailand and is still optimistic about his chances. I personally have great respect for the man as he is quick to compliment those who have beaten him but just as quick to bite the bullet and comeback to redeem him of the mistakes he’s made and serve notice to guys like Cormier who was 3rd and the others who wrote him off.
* With new judges come different opinions on what is the best or not the best. Despite the varying opinions from the different judges, I think it was the best thing even though I know from complaints I heard over the weekend, that the federation has plans to go back to the way things were. Too bad, there is no term limit to how long these judges can judge and the selection process is still a “Closed Door Affair” where there is No Athlete representation involved
I would love to dissect these guys but what good does it serve to pick them apart when they are not even recognized by the federation and Wayne Demilia as qualified participants in the show?
Not one of them got a DIME for their efforts! Not one of them is considered to be worthy of compensation, even though the event was aired on PAY PER VIEW! Even the IFBB PRESIDENT (Wayne DeMILIA) CLAIMED at the Press Conference in front of eager family and fans that the athletes, if given a financial guarantee would come in off or they wouldn’t train as hard because of the money they would get? I say limit the show to the number of competitors to 15 and guarantee everyone a payday just for getting there! Everyone on the PAY PER VIEW should be guaranteed a slice of the Gross Revenue generated from using their images to promote the show and sell the show!
I, as a professional bodybuilder am ashamed of the blatant disregard for the men on that stage by being offered a Limousine from the airport in lue of a payday for months of training and sacrifice!
In all the Olympia Glory, I found it hard to swallow that 15 men went home penniless while every parking lot attendant, security guard, ticket taker and promoter, went home to cash checks for a night work!
Things that make you go, Hmmmmm...
Until next year, Strength & Honor!