by Cade Thomas
At least for me, the 2014 Olympia was not one worth remembering. We already knew the first and second spots before going in and the battle for the crown was largely hyped as the same two man contest it has been for several years now. We look back fondly on Ronnie Coleman as the greatest bodybuilder to ever live but even during his reign there was a sense of boredom as every contest was Ronnie Vs. Jay. They were definitely the cream of the crop in that era, but this tunnel visioned way of looking at the biggest contest in the sport really puts the other talent in the shadows, and what makes bodybuilding exciting to me is the variety of competition and the feeling going into a show that you really don’t know who will take it.
This two man race would have been acceptable if the two men involved really pushed themselves to new levels, but what we saw were beaten up versions of their previous bests. Phil Heath and Kai Greene both brought less than impressive (in comparison to their own high standards) packages to the Olympia stage and rendered the 2 man show a relatively boring one. People were once again left to bicker about who is better, but at the end of the day it seemed pointless as nothing we saw was new or special.
To avoid singling them out, there were several other flops as well. Big Ramy failed to come into shape yet again while taunting us with potential to be one of the greatest young physiques to grace the stage. He did tear his hamstring several weeks before the show, but unfortunately it falls into the “crying wolf” category as he has yet to show up in top level IFBB condition. When you fail to do something on a repeated basis it’s hard for people to really sympathize when a legitimate excuse comes up.
Add Roelly Winklaar to the list as he displayed obscene muscle mass and good conditioning but also had one of the worst cases of abdominal distention to be witnessed. If you could have subtracted the offensive part you would be left with a very worthy physique, but instead he distended his way out of the top 10.
As depressing as this all sounds, looking forward to the Arnold Classic we are met with a very different contest. Not only are the two top names in the sport absent; The 3rd and 4th place Olympia finishers will not be seen on stage either. Dennis Wolf and Shawn Rhoden have built quite the rivalry over the past few years which was featured at last years ASC. These two definitely offer an exciting contest as they tend to bring different looks and neither one of them can really say they have bested the other on a consistent basis. However, their absence really opens this year up.
Dexter Jackson is the statistically favored competitor looking to break the record for ASC titles. The man doesn’t age or show up out of shape, so it makes complete sense to consider him the favorite. I agree that this is a show that he should be able to win, but there is some scary talent coming in to challenge him so I feel hesitant to hand him the trophy before game day.
Cedric McMillan arguably can match (or at least stand with) Dexter on shape and structure but has him out massed and also towers over him by 5 or 6 inches. The problem? Cedric rarely brings the conditioning that Dexter seems to bring without effort. How many times can we get on the Cedric hype train? I feel with how high his ceiling is and also the improvements he has managed to make that this could be a show where he finally shuts people up. Evan Centopani falls into the same camp. Never having truly shown their best and lots of buzz from their camps about finally reaching their potential. We shall see.
Between those two, new phenom Justin Compton, Roelly Winklaar back on track, Toney Freeman after a nice break, the return of Ben Pakulski, the always soft but amazingly built Lionel Byeke, and perhaps the second biggest name in the entire show Branch Warren, this is a stacked line up with lots of interesting angles.
Sometimes the lack of the highest of the elite can actually improve the quality of the show, as this one has people afraid to make predictions; A very different scenario than the easily predictable and lackluster Olympia of last fall.
The official competitor lineups for the 2015 Arnold Classic have been announced! In addition to the Men’s Open Bodybuilding, 212 Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure, and Bikini divisions, the Men’s and Women’s Physique divisions have been added to the 2015 lineup as well.
MEN’S OPEN BODYBUILDING
Mohamad Ali Bannout
MEN’S 212 BODYBUILDING
Angel Manuel Rangel Vargas
Regiane Da Silva
Christina Strom Fjaere
Sarah Elizabeth LeBlanc
For the first time, the 2015 Arnold Classic will also have the addition of:
Dana Lynn Bailey