Cutler Takes 4th O And Gets 'The Gift'!

The 2010 Olympia weekend has come to a close and what an exciting weekend it was. Read on for a recap of the top 15 competitors and how they stacked up against one another.

Well, here I am in Vegas in my hotel room following what has to easily be the most toughly contested Olympia EVER in its 45 year history. Like certain milestone Olympia's in the past such as the 1993 Olympia - where 6 time super-Brit Mr 'O' Dorian Yates took the whole concept of presenting the ultimate combination of size, symmetry and sick conditioning to a whole other level - this year's Vegas Muscle Bash proved to be yet another instance where we saw the entire standard rise to a completely new level. Read on for my honest and frank views on the Olympia that raised the bar yet again...

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15th Place - Troy Alves
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It was good to see veteran 40 plus pro and Phoenix resident Troy Alves back on stage after his statement earlier in the year that "due to a lack of sponsorship" and despite two second placings in 2010 pro shows he was rescued as it were by South African supplement giant USN and back in the game. Placing as high as 7th in the Olympia back in 2003, Troy had a pretty poor few years with dwindling placings and a softer and overall less impressive look. However, in 2009 Troy went back to playing to his biggest strength - Conditioning! With his first pro win at the Europa last year, each time he has stepped on stage he is always the man to beat when it comes to total dry shreddedness. However, as hard as we was here certain structural flows are highlighted when standing next to the sport's 'A' list elite pro's. 15th was fair for Troy.

Troy Alves At The 2010 Olympia. Troy Alves At The 2010 Olympia.
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Troy Alves At The 2010 Olympia.
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14th Place - Roelly Winklaar
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Aside from 2010 Olympia absolute front runners such as Heath, Jay, Kai, etc, there was no more talk generated about anyone before this contest than Curacao born and nearly full-time rookie Rotterdam resident Roelly. After taking 7th in his very first pro show (the Arnold) earlier in March and shockingly steamrollering the competition at May's New York Pro Show beating heavy hitters like Toney Freeman and Dennis Wolf, much was expected from Roelly as anyone who knows their bananas will realise that Roelly has everything in his arsenal to become one of the sport's elite club members - The top 6 Olympians! However, this was his 4 show this year and it had taken its toll. Now don't get my wrong, Roelly was in great condition, very lean and dry with some unbelievably detailed bodyparts such as his trademark triceps and also his crazy shredded glutes and deeply sliced hamstrings. But, Roelly was not full to bursting as he was in New York back in May, he was flat and this highlighted his weaknesses like the depth in his chest and even the fullness of his quads. Maybe it was a combination of nerves, fear of over-spilling the final weeks loading procedure, who knows? But this was no disgrace for Winklaar, he will be back, he's only a pup at 31 years old and any dummy can see that he will be giving the top 6 guys sleepless nights in these coming years. Roelly will be back, that you can be sure of, and soon as this is one hungry young lion.

Roelly Winklaar At The 2010 Olympia. Roelly Winklaar At The 2010 Olympia.
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Roelly Winklaar At The 2010 Olympia.
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13th Place - Marcus Haley
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The Cocky Comet! Never seen Marcus in the flesh before and never really rated him much either if I'm frank, but this year's New Orleans Grand Arena showing has made me very much a fan of Haley. Incredible posing, maybe the best of the night. An exuberant, entertaining stage presence and despite some major setbacks with a nasty potentially career ending leg injury two years back, to see him back on the number one bodybuilding stage in the world was an impressive showing for him. I was pleased to see him in perhaps his sharpest ever condition and getting the crowd practically on their feet as he brought the house down with all his slick moves...

Marcus Haley At The 2010 Olympia. Marcus Haley At The 2010 Olympia.
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Marcus Haley At The 2010 Olympia.
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12th Place - Johnnie Jackson
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Johnnie is one of those guys who you can never really predict how he will look. When he is on, he is always a front runner and threatens to crack the top placements with his amazingly brutal thickness and standout bodyparts such as his crazy thick chest, back and traps built from years of almost super-humanly, brutish heavy workouts that have earned him the proud title of the "Worlds Strongest bodybuilder". Since his 2007 Montreal pro win, a show I felt was his career best look, Jackson has turned up to shows even as big as the Olympia in pretty piss-poor conditioning making us all think he is almost throwing his career down the pan with poorly planned contest preps. But on this weekend Johnnie was back and how! Big, big, big and in terrific shape. The lack of sweep on his quads and seriously lagging calf development will always force Johnnie from ever truly being a top 6 Olympia breakthrough athlete, but who knows? Maybe he can and will rectify these imbalances one day soon. I hope so.

Johnnie Jackson At The 2010 Olympia. Johnnie Jackson At The 2010 Olympia.
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Johnnie Jackson At The 2010 Olympia.
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11th Place - Dennis James
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Dennis' last ever Olympia! At the press conference, Dennis James announced his absolute retirement, since 2000 Dennis has only skipped just one 'O' making this his tenth appearance. James set out to achieve his ambition of making the Olympia once this signalled the end of a really amazing pro career landing several pro wins (his first in Hungary in 2001 and his last at the 2009 Europa, his second consecutive win that season) especially when you consider that this was the Dennis most of his fans like to see and that is him at his biggest and freakiest. A standing ovation and an emotionally charged speech from Dennis was touching. 11th was a pretty fair although I do think he could have been placed as high as 9th.

Dennis James At The 2010 Olympia. Dennis James At The 2010 Olympia.
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Dennis James At The 2010 Olympia.
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10th - Hidetada Yamagishi
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Perhaps the true Giant Killer of the open pro competing at this currently competing at this level. Following a freak leg injury whilst doing dumbbell curls of all things a few months before the Vegas show I was unsure of Hidetada's capability of making this show and producing the goods to make the top ten again (he took 9th in 2009). But, thankfully, Hide was back and even improved over his best competitive appearances of 2009. One of the true and maybe last advocates of classical, professional posing he was a true crowd favourite and fully deserving of making the top ten for the second time in a row. As for possible improvements that he can make, his back is the one area most in need of some serious attention to ensure he holds onto those top placements. Being a shorter guy, he can only really concentrate on continually nailing his conditioning as more size would only serve to spoil his lines and pleasing genetic shape.

Hidetada Yamagishi At The 2010 Olympia. Hidetada Yamagishi At The 2010 Olympia.
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Hidetada Yamagishi At The 2010 Olympia.
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9th - Toney Freeman
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Like Johnnie Jackson, you can never really fully predict how the X-Man will show up. He has a breathtaking structure with one of the nicest shapes in the IFBB pro ranks today. Wide shoulders, a small waist, big arms, and great legs but the deciding factor with Toney is always when he turns his back to the audience. From the front, previous top 5 Olympia finisher Toney was looking on-point to maybe squeeze himself in the tail end of the top 6 this weekend. But, when he turned around it instantly took Freeman away from snatching that 5th-6th spot to falling down from anywhere from 8th-12th. Soft glutes and hams just don't cut it if you want to place in the big money. Still, a respectable showing for the ultra-slick stylings that are Toney 'The X-Man' Freeman.

Toney Freeman At The 2010 Olympia. Toney Freeman At The 2010 Olympia.
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Toney Freeman At The 2010 Olympia.
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8th - Victor Martinez
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One of the most passionately discussed Olympia hopefuls this year, Victor has had a hell of a few years in the IFBB, most notably his controversial 2nd place to a seriously 'off' Cutler in 2007. Still, it seemed that 2008 was his for the taking as he was improving at an incredible rate. Fate intervened and a horrible leg injury left him sidelined for the ENTIRE year, Next came the 2009 Olympia and a horrific family tragedy at ten weeks out that hit Victor hard. Yet, the inspiration that he is to many, Victor turned up to place 6th in his 2009 Olympia showing that 99% of the fans seemingly felt he deserved just two years previously. So, to say there was much speculation surrounding this year's Olympia participation was a serious understatement. Did he bring it? Well, I say without a doubt - YES! His legs were improved, his condition easily as good if not better than 2007 and he is still somehow managing to juggle the rare feat of balancing aesthetics with extreme size. 8th was harsh in my opinion, I had him a solid 5th. Victor does need to work on a more aggressive, forceful stage presence though, he simply looks like he doesn't really want this title, he should take a leaf out of crowd pleaser Phil Heath. A smidge more conditioning would not go amiss either.

Victor Martinez At The 2010 Olympia. Victor Martinez At The 2010 Olympia.
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Victor Martinez At The 2010 Olympia.
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7th - Kai Greene
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In the weeks leading up to the show, I really don't believe that anyone could have predicted this placement for two time Arnold Classic winner Kai Greene; no-one! I like Kai, I like his uniqueness and quirky ways and basically everything that make this man just so different from anyone else. However, in what can be viewed upon as an extreme sport it's a paradox that pushing every aspect of being a bodybuilder to the extreme can sometimes be the kiss of death for a professional bodybuilder also wanting to look forward to a long competitive career. That is Kai, he pushes hard and he gives his entire soul and blood, sweat and tears with simply everything he does to make him a better bodybuilder. This is hugely admirable but this is also what felled the mighty Kai this time around. All fans and even judges are impressed by improvement, but how many ways can a bodybuilder improve? Is it really just all about more size, more size and more size all the time? This is where Kai messed up, it's as if he wants to emulate Coleman by coming in bigger and bigger with each contest; that's fine, but the difference between Kai and Ronnie is that Ronnie was 5' 11" and Kai is 5' 8", there is a limit to how much the shorter guys can pack on before some areas start to give. 280lbs - or whatever Kai claimed to be this weekend - is just way too much for a frame of his size. Most agree that when lighter with better lines Greene is unbeatable especially when he is crisp n' dry. Once Kai went too far with playing the "size at all costs" game his conditioning suffered and the only way forward I truly believe he can go now is to back peddle and drop 10 or even 15 pounds, get that waistline back down, and nail his conditioning. Then my friends, we will have a potential new Mr Olympia. So come on Kai, you know it makes sense pal!

Kai Greene At The 2010 Olympia. Kai Greene At The 2010 Olympia.
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Kai Greene At The 2010 Olympia.
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6th - Ronny Rockel ($30,000)
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The Rock himself, a physique that is widely considered to be the most under-rated pro competing in recent years. Well, this year Ronny - who has steadily climbed up the ladder over the past 5 years - was in his all-time best condition, His balance and granite hard condition was on point this weekend and finally he was rewarded for his never-say-die efforts. I had Rockel 6th too.

Ronny Rockel At The 2010 Olympia. Ronny Rockel At The 2010 Olympia.
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Ronny Rockel At The 2010 Olympia.
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5th - Dennis Wolf ($40,000)
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Another huge surprise from the 'Wolfman' himself! The big German hope that sent shockwaves through bodybuilding at his breakout showing at the 2007 Olympia where he went from a 5th place finisher followed by a 4th place one year later at the 'O'. Then disaster struck. A terrible Wolf turned up at the 2009 'O' not even being placed and then followed that up with a pretty flat and lifeless body taking a lucky 3rd at May's New York Pro. Many had written him off almost completely calling him a one-hit wonder and a flash-in-the-pan flukester. Dennis Wolf served up everyone a Wolfey sized slice of zero-fat humble pie this weekend. He was back and the crowd just loved him for it too! 5th was how I had it too, with some seriously needed T.L.C. on his calves, hams, glutes and lower lats, we really could be looking at next year's top 3 contender.

Dennis Wolf At The 2010 Olympia. Dennis Wolf At The 2010 Olympia.
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Dennis Wolf At The 2010 Olympia.
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4th - Dexter Jackson - ($50,000)
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Here was another highlight of the show proving that you can never, ever write anyone off in this game despite what any so-called experts or fickle fans might possibly think. After winning the 2008 Olympia Dexter competed at each passing show with a poorer and poorer look. Was this simply a case of Dex coming to the end of a stellar and long career? Had he peaked and there were no improvements left to make? This show proved otherwise and I'm glad. Bodybuilders are a rare breed, you can never truly predict what can be done when the mind is put into positive action. A pissed and proud bodybuilder truly is a dangerous animal and the Blade showed everyone that he will not ever be counted out. I think this was the best Dexter we have ever seen, even more so than when he won the damned contest 2 years previously. I had the Blade cutting 3rd here.

Dexter Jackson At The 2010 Olympia. Dexter Jackson At The 2010 Olympia.
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Dexter Jackson At The 2010 Olympia.
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3rd - Branch Warren - ($75,000)
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Holy sh!t, a phrase that surely must have come into most spectator's minds when he came out as the first competitor to walk on stage. Last year's runner-up, Branch, did what most felt couldn't be done by the Mack truck of bodybuilding. He nailed it to take 2nd beating many of the favourites. After that it seemed that Branch still wasn't getting the recognition he was so deserving of. Many he was already maxed out and to be able to improve upon his 2009 Olympia showing was just a mere fantasy on his part. Damn, Branch proved 'em all wrong - AGAIN! He was even bigger and perhaps even harder than in 2009. He was difficult to fault and I had him in a well deserved 2nd place yet again.

Branch Warren At The 2010 Olympia. Branch Warren At The 2010 Olympia.
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Branch Warren At The 2010 Olympia.
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2nd - Phil Heath ($100,000)
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Where on earth do I even start? Why, I bet you are wondering? Is it too brief to say that here was an earth-shattering appearance that to me was as ground breaking as Dorian Yates who took the game to whole new level in 1993 when he destroyed the competition at his 2nd Olympia win. I'd even go as far to say that this was as impressive and progressive as Ronnie was in the 2003 Olympia when it seemed that the sport just got a whole lot tougher with these guys raising the bar to almost craze-induced levels. Phil Heath was so far ahead in my mind of everyone it was perhaps completely obvious to everyone that here was our new Mr. Olympia and yet again had he not only rose to the difficult challenge of improving incredibly but he had proved himself to be every bit worthy, perhaps more so than all the praise and endless hype the aptly named "Gift" had received since his pro debut back in 2006 at Shawn Ray's Colorado Pro. 2nd to me was a slap in the face for Phil, he delivered unbelievably and next year's Olympia is his, no question.

Phil Heath At The 2010 Olympia. Phil Heath At The 2010 Olympia.
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Phil Heath At The 2010 Olympia.
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1st - Jay Cutler ($200,000)
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After 2009's inspirational comeback and 3rd Olympia win last year Jay Cutler was rumoured to be making this year his last and wanted to go out with a bang and very much on top. But this year Cutler knew he was being targeted for termination by the hungry Olympia hopefuls. So, he wasn't taking any chances and prepped for this earlier and harder than ever before. So, how did he look? Day one (of two) I was disappointed for Jay, he looked flat in the chest, wide in the waist and wasn't looking as dominating as he had the year before. I had him 4th by virtue of this. The finals came and here was a marginally improved Jay, he was fuller and better all round. Still, he won and the crowd was pleased for him. A fourth title for Jay and his young apprentice Heath seriously in line to take no doubt a long string of Sandows in the years to come after this one.

Jay Cutler At The 2010 Olympia. Jay Cutler At The 2010 Olympia.
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Jay Cutler At The 2010 Olympia.
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