Every year we take a break from the election season to cast our eyes toward Vegas and a different type of competition-and this year is no different.
It’s Olympia Weekend at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas, and there’s a lot of flexing and posing to be done to pick the new Mr. Olympia (as well as Ms. Olympia, Ms. Fitness, etc.).
You may ask why I, a confirmed couch potato, have any interest in this contest at all.
First, as a semi-regular gym guy I am in awe of the time these men and women put in doing mind numbing sets and reps to get just the right look and definition. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that body builders are sculptors, except instead of granite or clay they sculpt their own bodies.
Is there supplement usage in this sculpting? Surely. Is there steroid usage? Maybe. Probably. Who knows? But steroids only supplement the base package. If you aren’t doing the lifting and the working and being careful about how much and often you eat, then steroids do you no good. It takes time and devotion, and that type of dedication deserves recognition.
Second, this is the Super Bowl of this sport. It is the big Kahuna, and requires such infinitesimal defining that those who win or come close to winning will often not compete until the next Olympia so they can get exactly the right routine, diet, etc., to reach the top of the mountain-or to stay there.
Third-this year is a little different. For many years the winner of the Olympia event was pretty much the most massive guy there, and after winning the title it was typically several years before it passed. Lee Haney (1984-1991), Dorian Yates (1992-1997), and Ronnie Coleman (1998-2005)…three guys held it the title for more than a twenty year period, and two gave up the crown through retirement.
Then things changed…after finishing second four times Jay Cutler did the unheard of and defeated incumbent champ in 2006. After a close win over Victor Martinez in 2007 (a result many still question), Cutler came in second in 2008 to Dexter “The Blade” Jackson, called that because his definition is always so sharp. The victory was noteworthy not only because a champion was again defeated, but because Jackson is not the big mass-o-muscle but the more chiseled V-Torso that has recently been favored at the Arnold Classic.
On top of that we have the deepest field in recent memory. There is Victor Martinez, who was on his way back from a leg injury until tragedy struck this summer when his sister was murdered; Kai Greene, Phil Heath, and Dennis Wolf, all of whom touted as future Olympia winners; Toney Freeman, Melvin Anthony, Silvio Samuel, and Gustavo Badell, all consistent top ten finishers; and my personal favorite (although admitted long shot) Branch Warren, Mr. Muscular Granularity himself.
The Haley/Yates/Coleman pattern has been tossed…it’s a brave new world in Vegas. Will we see:
Continuity-Will Dexter Jackson win to hold the title and continue as champion?
Comeback-Will Jay Cutler do what has never been done at Olympia-be dethroned as champion in one year and come back and win the next?
Creation-Will the stars align and a new champion emerge?
Pull on your gym clothes, pour yourself a protein shake, and get ready to rumble!