Since 1965, there have been only
10 men who have claimed the sport’s most coveted title. Most
recently we have watched Ronnie Coleman string together 5
consecutive victories. Another win would tie him with Dorian Yates
for 3rd on the all-time Olympia victory list. As the 2003 edition of
Joe Weider’s Olympia weekend draws closer, let’s take a look at this
History has proven that a reigning Olympia champ only has to “show
up” to collect another first place check. For some reason, the
feeling is much different this time around. It seems that the
bodybuilding public is yearning for a change. Ronnie has spent the
past year hearing fans speculate a possible changing of the guard.
One might assume that this kind of “disrespect” has fueled the fire
that burns within one the greatest bodybuilders in the history of
Unfortunately for Big Ron,
the doubts are justified. In 2001, Ronnie was pushed to the very
limit by a 28 year-old Jay Cutler. That was the last time these two
men stood on the same competitive stage. Since 2001, Cutler has
rattled off an impressive string of victories. In fact, Cutler has
hardly been challenged since the ’01 Olympia. His wins have been
First Round Knockouts and his dominance has caused many to render
Jay the “People’s Champ”.
Chris Cormier is getting very
little respect among the contenders heading into the upcoming
Olympia. His name has somehow fallen well beneath the radar screen.
Cormier is regarded as one of the most “complete” athletes in the
business and he’s out to prove that he can stand next to anyone,
including Ronnie. Perhaps this is the year that Chris finally brings
it all together.
After Ronnie, Jay and Chris
it’s wide open. Yes, that goes for Gunter Schlierkamp also….wide
open! I’m not quite ready to consider Gunter a legitimate Olympia
contender. From where I’m standing, his physique simply lacks the
detail and separation that I’d like to see from a top Olympia
contender. The moment he is called out next to Jay Cutler, the
audience (and the judges) will immediately see an obvious disparity
in overall quality and conditioning.
Dexter Jackson seemed like an
obvious choice for a Top 5 spot…until he was defeated by Darrem
Charles earlier this year in Rome. Dexter has vowed that he will be
razor sharp for the Olympia. A quick look at the field of
competitors would indicate that the man they call “The Blade” will
be among the early callouts. That takes us to Lee Priest, who has
spent the past year contemplating his retirement. Lee’s muscular
proportions are among the greatest in the history of the sport.
Historically, he has saved his best for the Olympia stage. It’s
difficult to prognosticate where Lee might finish following his
public comments that have raised obvious concerns about his passion
for the sport. This is likely his final Olympia.
Trivia Time! There are
currently just 4 athletes in this year’s Olympia who have won
multiple pro titles. This exclusive list includes Ronnie Coleman,
Jay Cutler and Chris Cormier. Can you name the ONLY OTHER competitor
in this year’s Olympia who has won multiple IFBB titles?
This one might surprise you.
The correct answer is Darrem
Charles…and he is planning to do some damage this year. Earlier this
year he snagged a Top 6 spot at the Arnold Classic. He than followed
that up by defeating Dexter and Marcus Ruhl in Italy. His goal is
Top 6 and he has informed me that he “badly wants a callout with
Don’t worry Dennis…I haven’t
forgotten you. Dennis James is one of the true wild-cards in this
event. “The Menace” has earned a reputation for peaking too early.
His pre-contest photos are always impressive. But, as you know,
contest day is an entirely different ballgame. I’m anticipating a
much improved version of Dennis, but I’m not quite ready to put him
in the Top 6. Although, Dennis has made it very clear that he
intends to do just that.
The field of 16 includes a
handful of other intriguing “sleepers” with Top 10 aspirations.
Melvin Anthony, Art Atwood and Troy Alves have each shown the
ability to bring a complete package to the stage. It remains to be
seen if they will be able to garner any attention on a stage that is
occupied by the very best in the world.
Predictions: The following predictions
are for your amusement only.
Jay Cutler (overall package simply cannot be denied)
Ronnie Coleman (the judges will allow zero margin for error)
Chris Cormier (top 3 if he’s on)
Gunter Schlierkamp (his size and crowd support will keep him near
Once again, I’ll be joining Joe Amato & Mike Matarazzo for the live
pay-per-view television broadcast. I’ll be covering all of the
action backstage throughout the event. Check your cable schedule for
see you in Vegas!
Be sure to visit
www.ProMuscleOnline.com for more 2003 Olympia Coverage!
Dan Solomon’s articles have been
featured in Muscle & Fitness Magazine, the industry’s most widely
circulated publication. Dan is also a featured commentator for the
Live Mr. Olympia Television broadcast. Dan founded the Physique
Management Group as well as Pro Muscle Online, a leading internet
resource, which has emerged as a favorite among bodybuilding &
fitness fans throughout the world.