- The 42nd rendition of the biggest weekend in bodybuilding and fitness promises to be a history-making event.
In the world of sports, moments of major historical significance are extremely rare. Records fall all the time, sure, but the generation-spanning achievements that every true fanatic knows of may happen once or twice in your lifetime - if you're lucky. Baseball has DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Hoops has Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game. Hockey has the Montreal Canadien's 24 Stanley Cup titles.
Now, bodybuilding is on the precipice of one of those magical moments. Ronnie Coleman will take the stage at the Orleans Arena Sept. 29-30 to try to achieve what no one has done before. Not Dorian Yates at six titles, not Arnold Schwarzenegger at seven titles - right now, Coleman stands tied with Lee Haney, each with eight Sandow trophies apiece. If the former police officer from Arlington, Texas, can win one more, he'll own a record that could conceivably stand forever: Nine Mr. Olympia triumphs.
But on the flip side is the possibility of bearing witness to an upset of epic proportion - if Coleman lost, it would be the most shocking outcome ever in a professional bodybuilding contest. And a victory is far from guaranteed.
Indeed, events of the past year seem to be conspiring against the reigning champ, not the least of which is Father Time -Coleman has thus far stood seemingly invincible to the effects of age, but now at 42 he's nearing uncharted territory for an Olympia champion. (Only one, 43-year-old Chris Dickerson in 1982, has been older.)
And that may be the least of Coleman's worries. Onstage, he will be flanked by the best bodybuilders on the planet, including a few future Hall of Famers and a man who has come in second three times running, Jay Cutler. With a hometown Las Vegas crowd behind him, and the only lats in the sport that match up to Coleman's, 32-year-old Cutler is ready to finally taking the Mr. O crown he's come excruciatingly close to.
Other competitors who come in with the credentials to win an O include two-time defending Arnold Classic champ Dexter Jackson, five-time Masters Olympia champ Vince Taylor, two-time Olympia Challenge Round champ Gustavo Badell, and the only man to ever beat Coleman since he started his reign - 300-pound Gunter Schlierkamp.
Danger for Coleman lurks throughout the lineup - the judges have been rewarding the smaller aesthetic physiques in 2006, including Ironman winner Lee Priest and Ironman runner-up David Henry, along with Australian Pro champion Ronny Rockel. All plan to be on hand for the 42nd annual Olympia.
And don't forget this fact - in 1997, the year before his current winning streak began, Coleman finished ninth. If he could do it, certainly another unheralded competitor from the field could. Remember, the athletes in the Olympia qualified to be there - each and every one of them are proven at the highest level of the sport, and are very capable of taking the crown. All the hype, all the prognostication, doesn't mean a thing until the men step out in front of the judges and thousands of screaming fans. This year, it promises to be a moment like no other before it. Las Vegas, Sept. 28-Oct. 1: Be there for an extreme event like no other on earth.
JOE WEIDER'S 2006 OLYMPIA WEEKEND FACT SHEET
- Dates: Sept. 28-Oct. 1
- Prize Money: The total prize money for the Mr. Olympia contest has increased from $480,000 to $546,000 this year. The money from the Challenge Round - which will not be included this year - and last year's Wildcard Showdown, $60,000 in total, will be distributed among all the athletes. First place: $155,000. Second: $90,000. Third: 60,000. Fourth: $48,000. Fifth: $38,000. Sixth: $30,000. Seventh: $18,000. Eighth: $17,000. Ninth: $16,000. Tenth: $14,000. Eleventh and lower: $4,000 each. (The combined total prize money for the Mr., Ms., Figure and Fitness Olympia competitions is $725,000.)
- New Men's Format: Prejudging for the Mr. Olympia will be held on Friday night in conjunction with the Fitness Olympia and Ms. Olympia Finals. This format should ensure a packed Orleans Arena both Friday and Saturday night.
- Women's Contests: On Friday afternoon, prejudging for all the women's contests - Fitness, Figure and Ms. Olympia - will be held at the Olympia Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center, followed by the finals of the Fitness O and Ms. O Friday night at the Orleans, in conjunction with the men's initial showdown. Figure finals will be held Saturday night as part of the Mr. Olympia finals, again at the Orleans Arena.
- Bigger Fitness Expo: Friday and Saturday's Olympia Expo will be packed with booths, giveaways and entertainment, including a model search and the Sport Martial Arts Tournament put on with help from Black Belt magazine, where 16 of the country's top amateur fighters will do battle. While the tournament will feature some of the best amateurs, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will also bring some of its top professional fighters for fans to meet.
- Fittest Model Search: Hardbody Entertainment, the title sponsor of the Olympia Weekend, kicked off the inaugural World's Fittest Model Search in May in search of the world's top undiscovered physiques. The top 15 male and 15 female finalists will appear in Vegas, with the ultimate winners crowned during the Olympia Weekend.
- Plenty of Free Transportation: First, in response to feedback from last year's show, the number of buses running between the Orleans Hotel and the Las Vegas Convention Center will be tripled, making it much easier for fans to catch everything during the action-packed weekend.
- Party With The Pros: The Olympia After-Party, where VIP ticketholders mingle with fitness, figure and bodybuilding stars, takes place after Saturday night's show. It will be followed Sunday morning with the Olympia Superstar Seminar, giving those who made the trek to Vegas one last chance to ask questions and get training and nutrition advice from the top athletes in the contests.
- Olympia Ticket Info: To order call the Orleans Arena Box Office at (702) 284-7777 or toll-free at (888) 234 2334. You can also order tickets online at www.orleansarena.com.
OLYMPIA WEEKEND SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
- Thursday - Orleans
- Press Conference (Orleans Showroom)
- Meet the Olympians (Orleans Arena)
- Friday - Las Vegas Convention Center (10 AM-5 PM)
- Women's Judging - Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure
- SMA Tournament - Round 1 & 2
- Friday - Orleans Arena (7 PM)
- Women's Finals - Fitness & Ms. Olympia
- Mr. Olympia Judging
- Saturday - LVCC (10 AM - 5 PM)
- Hardbody Entertainment's World's Fittest Model Search
- SMA Tournament - Semi & Finals
- Battle of the Biceps
- Saturday - Orleans Arena (7 PM)
- Mr. Olympia & Figure Finals
- Olympia Victory Gala
- Sunday - Orleans Hotel (11 AM)
- Olympia Superstar Seminar
THE MR. OLYMPIA LINEUP
- These are the men qualified for the Mr. Olympia, up through the New York Pro contest May 20. More athletes can qualify during the Europa Super Show (in Texas) August 26, The Montreal Pro September 3, the Atlantic City Pro September 23, and the Santa Susanna Pro (in Spain) September 24.
The lineup currently includes:
- Troy Alves
- Melvin Anthony
- Gustavo Badell
- Darrem Charles
- Bob Cicherillo
- Ronnie Coleman
- Jay Cutler
- Phil Heath
- Dave Henry
- Dexter Jackson
- Dennis James
- Victor Martinez
- Mustafa Mohammad
- Lee Priest
- Ronny Rockel
- GŁnter Schlierkamp
- Vince Taylor
- Branch Warren
- FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact event promoter Robin Chang at (818) 595-0466 or visit www.mrolympia.com