We think it is foolish and unfair to rate the pro bodybuilders of the Olympia in a 'who will place 1st to 25th showing'. How do we know what a bodybuilder will look like on contest day, and as a judge, perception or prejudging the bodybuilding is not only
unfair, but should never happen. A judge should not care what he looks like even on the day before. A judge should only care what he looks like on that Saturday morning. And a judge should judge fairly. We should never hear from a judge that so and so bodybuilder always shows up the same. A judge should say 'I judge on how he looks like that morning and nothing else'. And a judge should never talk to each other during pre-judging or afterwards. These Olympia judges should not even go to lunch or dinner with each other. On that Saturday until the judges render their decisions, each judge should stay away from each other. This year, 9 judges are brand new Olympia judges. Head these warnings, and follow the rules. Don't let a photographer or writer see you talking to each other. That would be most embarrassing and unfair to the competitors. So, with that out of the way, we still want to have some fun, and voice our meaningless opinions. Here is what we think the top 25 competitors will be.
1) Ronnie Coleman: Does anybody really think he is going to lose? He is the reigning world champion; his most likely runner up who perhaps has a chance to even get near him is not competing; and this year, rumors are saying that he looks ten times better and larger than he did at last year's Olympia. Ronnie is the king, the one which no one, not even the pro bodybuilders think anyone can beat him. Which makes this year's Olympia a sure thing for Ronnie. But then again, that is what everyone thought of last year. How many people thought Jay Cutler could come from nowhere to almost beat Ronnie? No one. No one at all. So could there be a surprise pro bodybuilder stepping up to the plate this year? Can Chris Cormier do it? Flex Wheeler? Art Atwood? Who knows? But the consensus is that forget about it; Ronnie is the winner.
2) Chris Cormier: Last year, everyone thought Chris would rise up to compete against Ronnie. Boy, were we all disappointed. Chris disappointed us all by coming in 5th, and holding water. A veteran like Chris should of known better. A veteran like Chris should not have been partying. A veteran like Chris should understand how serious the competition of the Mr. Olympia is and should of concentrated more. But Chris has learned from last year's embarrassment. Chris is training now away from Venice, at Gold's Gym Redondo Beach, and has stayed away from partying. And if Chris can stay out of trouble and just concentrate on the Olympia, Chris can garner 2nd place and 70 thousand dollars. Recent photos from Chris' guest posing makes him look great, and if he can keep it together until the morning of the big contest, his fans will love him.
3) Flex Wheeler: Flex, when at his best, has one of the best symmetrical forms in the sport of bodybuilding. No one, not Ronnie, not Chris, has the body of Flex Wheeler at his best. And yet, he still has not won the big show, partly because Ronnie Coleman is bigger, a mass monster. Flex almost beat Ronnie in Ronnie's first win in the Mr. Olympia, with Flex going into the 4th round leading, but losing (and you thought last year's Olympia was controversial). Flex retired last year, disappointing thousands of
fans, citing personal reasons for it, but came out of retirement at the Arnold, exciting lots. This year, Flex is training hard with his partner Rico, but the key is whether Flex will come in shape or not. Flex is claiming that he is natural, but everyone knows that being natural will keep Flex from the top ranks of the show. So which Flex will show up. If natural, Flex will be out of the race. If in contest form, Flex can place 3rd.
4) Dennis James: Dennis the Menace. Dennis who got married this year. Dennis who lives in Thailand, and who trains at Powerhouse Gym Fullerton in California. Dennis who's training partner and mentor is none other than Milos Sarcev. Every year, Dennis gets stronger and better than last year, and this year should be no different. We have followed Dennis' career and his knowledge of the sport is growing. We think Dennis is going to come into this year's Olympia with a roar, a vengeance to prove that the spring shows and his miscalculation with the flu was just a minor setback, and prove to the world that he is for real. Dennis in 4th, and then we get to see Dennis partying at the Rum Jungle at the Mandalay Bay!
5) Lee Priest: Why does everybody complain that a short man can never place high at the Olympia. So what if Lee is 5'3" tall. Pound for pound, Lee is one of the best bodybuilders in the sport, and if the judges can see it that way, Lee and all of his legions of fans from the USA and around the world would be much happier. Lee loves to joke around, as seen by his boasting of able to eat 21 KFC chicken pieces in a row. Lee loves to race around, as evidenced by his wins in Nevada, and his NASCAR tattoo on his arms. But Lee is most impressive when he is serious about his bodybuilder career, and this year is the best ever for Lee. He won his first pro show, at the San Francisco Pro. And he is disciplined, training at his own home in his own 'hole in the wall' gym. And that is why we predict that this year will be one of Lee's greatest at the Olympia. And we will buy him some KFC chicken banners for his fans to wave at the Olympia to make him hungry for the top five.
6) Kevin Levrone: We love Kevin. We really do. When he sings at the local clubs in Maryland, with his band Fulblown, it impresses us that bodybuilders can do more than just mold their bodies. Kevin came in 3rd last year, after furiously locking himself up in his house, and not coming out until he felt his body was in shape. But persistent rumors of Kevin thinking about his band, and the music career may perhaps take him off track into coming in 100% shape for this year's Olympia. We were all disappointed in Kevin at the 2002 Arnold, when he came to it way off his ideal bodybuilding shape. So how will Kevin come in this year? Who knows? But hopefully, good enough to make the top 6.
7) Dexter Jackson: Dexter is the quiet man, as we rarely hear a lot of this guy in the Internet bulletin boards, or in various gyms around the country. But make no mistake about it, Dexter is a major threat, as evidenced last year by his 2002 Olympia appearance in 8th place, and that was with Jay Cutler and Shawn Ray in the lineup. This year, Dexter is in full training mode, and will once again place better than last year's placings. We wish Dexter nothing but the best.
8) Art Atwood: Where the hell did this giant come from. A super mass monster exploding out of nowhere to stun the bodybuilding world with a rookie win at the Toronto Pro. Ah, but that had an easy lineup, you say. We all agree. How will Art stand up to with the big guys on stage, where everything is crucial. We think he will stand up pretty damn good. With Chad Nichols, the nutritionist helping him out, Art is a full 18 pounds heavier than he was when he was preparing for the Toronto Pro, and this is the one who instills fears into the old timers on stage. Like Jay Cutler did, Art is going to push into the top ten and stay up there for a very long time.
9) King Kamali: The bad boy of bodybuilding. You either love King or hate him. King came into pro bodybuilding with a vengeance, promising to kick some butt at the Ironman, pissing off a lot of bodybuilders, and creating a rivalry with the other bad boy of bodybuilding, Craig Titus. So bad was the rivalry, was that when King went on stage of the Ironman, Craig was yelling at him from backstage. But King talked the talk, and walked the walk, coming in 3rd at the Ironman, and earning his chance at the Olympia last year, and kicking some butt in his first Olympia, coming in 10th,
to automatically earning him a spot in this years Olympia. But King was not done with his trash talking. On various web sites, and in various magazines, King would again go after pro bodybuilders, irking the ire and, as much as trying to ignore the
King, could not. King talks a good game, and King also knows that he best be in the best shape of his life come Olympia morning because his fans, both the lovers and the haters, will eat him alive if he fails to make the top ten. King will not do that, and judging by the pictures that are circulating out there, King understands the pressure he is under and will surprise everyone out there, perhaps coming in as strong as 8th place! We can't wait to hear Kings talking after he accomplishes this fear.
10) Ahmed Haider: We were all stunned when Ahmed came out at the Ironman this year with his awesome abs. What? Ahmed? Looking this good? What is going on here? Well, a week later at the Arnold, then man was looking even better and was proclaimed as having the best abs and most improved bodybuilder of the year over last (as least in our opinion). Ahmed, training in Florida, can really create a sir by coming in the top ten at the 2002 Mr. Olympia, stunning some other bodybuilders who have not considered that it is Ahmed's time to shine on stage. That is, if Ahmed comes in brilliant shape, and the judges have a fair and open mind.
11) Bob Cicherillo: When Bob came out this year, and placed 2nd at this years Southwest Pro and Night of Champion, many of us were pleasantly surprised. We did not think Bob would place this high; we had no confidence in Bob. Bob, a New Yorker who now lives in Los Angeles, had seemingly come out from nowhere, and earned his way into the Mr. Olympia. Still, many fans think that Bob got lucky at these two shows; that the judges gave him a gift; that he did not deserve to be here. But that is all bull. Bob may be a big surprise at this year's Olympia. He is a mass monster, strong, wide, and knows what he is doing, and judging from pictures, right on track. Still, for Bob to make the top ten would be very hard, and Bob would need to be right on the money at that Saturday morning to impress the judges. But we all know that Bob is on track, and thus, unfortunately, barely miss the top ten. Frustration in making it so far, yet being just one behind the top ten. Here is hoping that Bob will prove us wrong!
12) Orville Burke: Why so low in the standings? We don't know what we are thinking, which Orville placing 6th last year at the Olympia. Can he really drop down 6 places? Most likely not, but with Orville being so quite this year, the perception is that Orville will fail to make the top ten, and instead next year, compete in the Master's Olympia, going against Vince Taylor and Don Youngblood. We shall see.
13) Nasser El Sonbaty: Here is a great bodybuilder, one who was destined for greatness, but has lost the track of time. Stunning everyone, Nasser finished 9th at the Olympia last year, and this year, should fall out of the top ten. We don't know why Nasser can't get it together in the final weeks of the contests anymore? But if he does drop out of the top ten, it will be the first time since 1997. It is rumored that Nasser's time has come, and to make way for the new class of bodybuilders. Let's hope Nasser proves everyone wrong, and kick some butt here at the Olympia. But it does not look that way. Sorry.
14) Markus Ruhl: The rumor on the bodybuilding gyms is that Markus is awesome at the Night of Champions but cannot get it together for a 2nd run at the top in the same year. For some reason, Markus comes to the Olympia like the largest mass monster out there, 280 pounds, but can't get it together for the symmetrical rounds, and is too smooth, when compared to the other pro bodybuilders. But the man is so huge, they yell in the audience. Judges, give him some points for being the widest muscle freak on stage. It won't happen. Markus probably will give the fans what they want, but no the judges.
15) Gunter Schlierkamp: We all love Gunter. Gunter has got to be one of the nicest pro bodybuilders we have ever met. Always in a good mood; always eager to meet the fans; always patient when fans taking pictures, and gives autographs away because he is a good man. Gunter, hailing from Germany, but living in Los Angeles, is also one of the luckiest bodybuilders in the sport, having once again, received an invite from the IFBB, and not earning his way to the big contest. Is it fair? Why does Gunter always gets the invites? Well, because perhaps Gunter is the only pro bodybuilder which actually asked for an invite this year, and since they give one out, he got it. Sounds kind of amazing, but we wonder why did not J.D. or Paul Dillett or Quincy Taylor ask for it? Come on guys, remember next year to ask for an invite, and perhaps you can get it! Never the less, Gunter is easily the largest bodybuilder on stage, with his 6'1" height and his close to 300 pound frame. Gunter is a giant, and perhaps that is why he always never places in the top 10. The judges just do not understand him and never give him a chance. If you take a look at Gunter up close,
if he is in shape this year, you will be amazed. However, the symmetrical form from afar is a little off, and side by side by bodyparts from other bodybuilders, the judges tend to give him no benefit of the doubt. Sorry Gunter, but we love you.
Francisco 'Paco' Bautista: The 2002 Night of Champion was the first we had seen of this mass monster, as he was suspended for two years after testing positive for illegal substances at the World Amateur Contests, while competing for Spain. At the invitation of Wayne DeMilia, this bodybuilder came to the United States in his first pro show, and destroyed the competition, stunning even the veteran pro bodybuilders with the size of his legs. But a week later, he fell to sixth place at the Toronto Pro. We doubt that Paco will be able to show off his awesome legs again at the Olympia, but we think that he will see an impressive form. After all, being at the Olympia means you have to be the best of the best to participate.
Craig Titus: The man is going to get on stage, and get nothing for competing at the greatest bodybuilding contest of the year. Craig Titus, the bad boy of bodybuilding, has conceded that he will not make the top ten, and perhaps not even the top 15 at this show. So why is he doing the show, and not strategically waiting for the Ironman, or Arnold where he can make some money. Because his Weider contract tells him to do so. Never mind that Craig had an impressive year, coming in 5th at the Night of Champions, granting him this honor to be at the Olympia. There are legions of Craig Titus fans who want Craig to do well. But his rivalry with Kamali has shadowed all of that, and it pains Craig to see Kamali crack the top ten while Craig won't. So Craig will come, and provide the audience with a good show, good form, good symmetry, and when he does not make the top 15, provide his loyal fans and legions of bodybuilder admirers with the best damn party in Vegas, sponsored and produced by the West Coast bad boy himself! We can't wait to see if Kamali will show up to the party. Because we all know that the judges will put Kamali, and Titus in a call out at the Olympia. Why not, the audience will love it!
Darrem Charles: Heavily promoted via web sites, and other venues, Darrem will face a very tough class of bodybuilders at the Olympia, and with the recent tragedy of his mothers killing, will force Darrem to not concentrate on the Olympia. The finals two weeks are vital to place high, and work on your training, but Darrem, unfortunately, will not have the mindset to concentrate. Too bad, Darrem is a great bodybuilder, and a good person.
Don Youngblood: Don's goal when he started bodybuilding, at a very late age was just to get into the Olympia, to be there the big boys. But first he has the beat Vince Taylor, the reigning Master's Olympia champ to do so. Last year, he almost did, but this year, he did, amazing Vince Taylor, his idol, and putting Don into the Olympia, achieving his goal. Now Don knows he is not going to place anywhere near the top ten, maybe even the top 15, but there are 25 guys in the category, and if Don can even place in the top 20, that would be a major achievement, and if Don even comes in shape, and looks good for a bodybuilder over 40, then Don has done what he wanted to do, and we should all praise Don over that! Congrats Don for making in this far, for showing us all that you can achieve your goal.
George Farah: Four years ago, who would have thought that George would ever compete again in a show, yet alone place in the top three in a pro show, and get a chance to compete at the Olympia. Of course, George gets no respect, and with controversial 3rd place win over J.D. at the Southwest, George, instead of getting
congrats from the bodybuilding world, got a lot of dismayed looks, with people wondering what were the judges thinking in going with a small, symmetrical person over a big mass monster. So George has a lot to prove, to show the fans and the bodybuilding world that he does belong here on the Olympia stage, and to do that, he needs to place in the top 20 out of 25. That would be an achievement for George. Good luck. No one has faith in George, but perhaps George can surprise us all. But he does earn our respect for the courage to continue from being shot and left for
dead after a robbery to being on the stage at the Olympia. Colorful stories are always wonderful and good for the sport.
Ernie Taylor: A fine bodybuilder, Ernie earned his way into this year's Olympia by way at the 2002 Ironman Pro, but is not expecting much in the Olympia. So why not come in, have some fun, and enjoy the moment in the sun on stage.
Tommi Thorvildsen, Claude Groulx, Gustavo Badell and Jaroslav Horvath: These bodybuilders should be honored to grace the Mr. Olympia stage, and should just come and have fun, for no one expects them to be in the top 20, and thus, finishing higher than that would be great. We wish all of the bodybuilders the best, and the fullest respect, and should not be angered by the many lists of perception as they are just opinions, and do not mean anything. But they are always fun to read.
See you at the 2002 Olympia!