The biggest event in bodybuilding is upon us: Joe Weider’s Olympia Weekend. Another year gone by, another chance for the best in the world to go toe-to-toe and see who’s left standing when the dust settles.
What can we expect this year? Check out Part I of our two-part Olympia preview – 10 Storylines to Watch – and get ready for another weekend to remember.
#10 End of An Era
To start, a nod to history.
For the past 15 years, starting in 1998 when a police officer from Arlington, Texas came out of nowhere to shock the bodybuilding world and go on a run that may never be seen again, two names have dominated the top of the Mr. Olympia lineup: Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler. The duo finished 1-2 in a record five Olympias in what is arguably the greatest rivalry in bodybuilding history.
Their battles ended in 2007, when, a year after losing the title to Cutler, Coleman exited the competitive stage after a fourth-place finish. Cutler won his second Sandow that year and would go on to win two more. Now, after yet another runner-up finish in 2011 (a record sixth), Cutler has announced he will watch from the sidelines this year – meaning that neither will be in the lineup for the first time since 1993.
Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler at the 2006 Mr. Olympia
photos courtesy of MuscularDevelopment.com
#9 Can Kyle Come Back?
With seven Ms. Olympia titles, Iris Kyle sits on the verge of tying Lenda Murray (eight, from 1990-95 and 2002-03) for the most wins of all time. But will she be at 100 percent? Very little is known about the leg injury that sidelined Kyle for the Arnold Classic in March, so that question won’t be answered until Friday’s prejudging. Yaxeni Oriquen and Debbie Laszewski both impressed in finishing 1-2 at the Arnold Classic, and not many would have batted an eye had those placings been reversed. If Kyle isn’t at 100 percent, Murray’s record will be safe for at least another year.
#8 Seventh Heaven
Can anybody beat Adela Garcia? That’s been the question for the past five years years, during which Garcia has gone on a run that is unmatched in the history of the Fitness division. She hasn’t lost since returning from and ACL injury in 2007, a streak that includes 4 Fitness Olympia and 3 Fitness International titles. Garcia will turn 41 in December, but if her back-to-back wins at the FLEX Pro and the Fitness International to start the year are any indication, a seventh title for Garcia may be the safest bet of the weekend.
#7 Free For All
Now in its third year, the IFBB Bikini division keeps growing and, along with that growth comes more competition. Nowhere is that more evident than at the top of the order in the Bikini Olympia. At the last four major contests – the Bikini Olympia and the Bikini International – Sonia Gonzales and Nicole Nagrani have gone back and forth in winning those titles, with Gonzales winning 2010 Bikini Olympia and the 2012 Bikini International and Nagrani winning both in 2011. That neither enters as the clear-cut favorite says it all.
So who’s the favorite? India Paulino has the momentum, with five wins in her last six contests – including a runner-up finish at the Bikini International. But no one would be shocked if Dianna Dahlgren or Nathalia Melo managed to slip into the top spot come Friday night.
One thing is for certain: cracking the top 10 in this lineup will be an accomplishment in it’s own right.
The top five from the 2012 Bikini International
#6 Figure It Out
It’s not hard to predict who will be at the top of the Figure Olympia lineup – it will most likely be either Nicole Wilkins or Erin Stern. The two have combined to win the past three Figure Olympia titles, with Wilkins holding a 2-1 advantage. A win here would move Wilkins into a tie with Davana Medina and Jenny Lynn for the most Olympia wins by a figure competitor – something Stern would like to delay for at least another year.
If you’re looking for someone to break into that exclusive group, look no further than Candice Keene. Keene finished third at the Fitness International in March, then followed that up with a win at the New York Pro in May.
Nicole Wilkins and Erin Stern at the 2011 Figure Olympia