Here's How It REALLY Went Down...
defining moment of the 2002 Mr. Olympia contest, held for the
fourth year in a row at the Mandalay Bay
hotel in Las Vegas,
Nevada, came during the exciting final posedown. Ronnie
Coleman, the returning four-time champ, has developed
a reputation as the King of the Posedown in recent years. In his
latest victory, Coleman intended to continue with that tradition.
the last three years of his reign, Coleman
has literally pushed away any challengers to his crown during
the final posedown. In 1999, Shawn Ray
was the unlucky victim as Ronnie shoved the 210 pound challenger
away when Shawn attempted to wedge himself between Coleman
and Flex Wheeler. In 2000, Nasser
El Sonbaty was easily pushed to the side when he tried
to move in on Coleman's territory. And, in last year's come from
behind victory, an aggressive Ronnie Coleman nearly toppled both
Orville Burke and Chris
Cormier when Orville tried to position his huge frame next
to the reigning champ and Cormier.
year, crowd favorite and human Man Mountain,
Gunter Schlierkamp, pursued the current Mr. Olympia by
moving right next to him at the beginning of the posedown. As
Coleman attempted to push the German Giant out of the way with
his massive 23 inch arms, he was met with the proverbial brick
wall. Gunter didn't even budge!
Could this be symbolic of the future for Ronnie Coleman's reign
as Mr. Olympia? With bodybuilders like Gunter vying for the title,
Coleman will no longer be able to push aside the competition anymore.
in the evening, Gunter had captured the hearts and minds of the
Mr. Olympia audience and now he seemed on the verge of capturing
the title itself as the champ himself appeared very vulnerable
against a much bigger and harder competitor. Gunter had never
looked better and he seemed to have unlocked the secret to finally
realizing his incredible potential. Rarely has a competitor received
so much love from an audience as Gunter did the evening of October
19th, 2002. He even received an unprecedented standing ovation
from an incredibly appreciative audience after being awarded his
are the final placings as well as my thoughts on each athlete
in the 2002 Mr. Olympia contest:
CLICK THE PICTURES BELOW FOR FULL GALLERIES
Place - Ronnie Coleman
Ronnie won his fifth Mr. Olympia this year and was received with
a thunderous round of boos from the audience as he was awarded
the title. This was the worst condition that Ronnie has looked
in winning the Mr. O since 1998. This was a real surprise to me
because I know Coleman was very upset by the close call from Jay
Cutler last year and he had trained incredibly hard in preparation
for this contest. He had even postponed all guest posings for
the last 13 weeks leading up the Olympia to insure that he would
be at his all-time best.
what went wrong? According to Matt Nill of MuscleTime.com,
Ronnie was in his all-time best shape three weeks out from the
show when Mitsuru Okabe filmed him for his "Battle for the
Olympia" video. Matt believes that Coleman lost as much as
20 pounds in the final three weeks and, judging by the footage
that Mitsuru filmed, it was 20 pounds that he didn't need to lose.
Ronnie was noticably flat compared to his previous four wins.
My guess is that after all the criticism last year regarding his
bloated stomach, Coleman went all out to get as lean as possible.
However, despite the significant weight loss (15 pounds lighter
than last year), his gut was still somewhat bloated. He looked
to be much flatter all over, especially in the pecs. His arms
and back were still impressive and his thighs were gargantuan
(although still lacking in separation) but this was not the Ronnie
Coleman that we were expecting.
2nd Place - Kevin Levrone
looked fantastic in his 11th consecutive Mr. Olympia contest.
Fully healed from his hernia operation earlier in the year, Kevin
showed up almost 20 pounds heavier than last year and it showed.
Impressively thick and muscular, Kevin was at his best in years.
I thought he looked better this year than the fantastic condition
he displayed in 2000 when he placed a close second to Ronnie.
showed everyone that he is one of the best professional bodybuilders
in the world today by performing another beautiful posing routine
at the evening finals. Kevin is one of the best performers in
the sport and he had the audience eating out of his hand as he
posed magnificently to music from the rock band Creed. I was not
surprised to learn later that Kevin won the posing round and the
had Kevin beat in the back, especially in the relaxed round, but
I thought Kevin was more impressive from the front with better
abs and a much fuller look than Ronnie displayed. I think Kevin
and Ronnie were nearly the same weight but Ronnie looked flat
while Kevin looked full. Kevin also brought up his legs from the
last couple of years and you can tell he put in some hard and
heavy training in preparation for this event. It could have went
either way for first or second with Ronnie and Kevin and, judging
by the final audience reaction, the fans at the Mandalay Bay Theater
were going for Kevin.
Place - Chris Cormier
Chris was expected to be one of the front runners coming into
the contest. He looked better than last year but still not as
tight as he was earlier in the year when he won the Pro Ironman
show or took second to Jay Cutler at the Arnold Classic. If he
would have shown up in that condition, he may have provided an
upset since Ronnie was off.
Chris has a lot of muscle for his frame but he still displays
outstanding symmetry and shape which is why he placed so high
in the relaxed round of this competition (2nd to Ronnie Coleman).
However, Chris seemed somewhat subdued during the course of the
event and lacked the fire that Levrone exhibited. He certainly
didn't look ready to take on the champ and potentially knock him
personally would have placed Chris below Dexter Jackson and Gunter
Schlierkamp. I think his advance publicity and his winnings earlier
in the year helped him in the initial call-outs which automatically
guaranteed his top three placing. If he would have shown up in
his customary rock-hard condition and winning attitude, he could
have really challenged Ronnie for the Sandow trophy this year.
Place - Dexter Jackson
was in great condition on his fourth attempt at the Mr. Olympia
title. Blessed with small joints and full muscle bellies, Dexter
has gradually added size to his physique and was awarded with
his progress by placing in the coveted top five at the biggest
show in bodybuilding.
always shows up in top condition and ripped to the bone everytime
he steps onstage. That conditioning combined with his outstanding
shape always presents a threat to his competition. Often compared
to Flex Wheeler because of his aesthetic shape and symmetry, Dexter
was actually able to outshine the legendary Mr. Wheeler on this
day due to Flex's new smaller look.
was also much more confident onstage at the Olympia this year.
He has paid his dues and, after placing in the top three at this
year's Arnold Classic, he knew that this was his best chance to
make the top five at the Big O. Congratulations to Dexter and
I look forward to seeing him capture some first place victories
soon on the pro circuit. (Note: Dexter did win his first professional
competition shortly after the Mr. Olympia by placing first at
the British Grand Prix on October 26th).
Place - Gunter Schlierkamp
Gunter was the big surprise of the Mr. Olympia competition this
year. When I say big, I mean BIG! Gunter stepped onstage at a
ripped 300 pounds exuding confidence and completely won over the
crowd at the Mandalay Bay. He received an outstanding reception
from the appreciative audience who recognized a winner when they
saw one. By the end of the night, the fans were hungry to see
a new champion crowned as Mr. Olympia and Gunter filled that role
bigger and better than anyone else onstage. If there was a bodybuilder
that exemplified the Mr. Olympia title that night during the posedown,
it was definitely Gunter Schlierkamp!
trained this year with Charles Glass and received nutritional
advice from guru Chad Nichols. The help he got from these two
gentlemen made all the difference in the world as he was finally
able to present his physique in all it's glorious realized potential.
Always a big man, Gunter added ten quality pounds to his frame
in the just the right places. It looked like he added size to
his delts, pecs and back which shifted attention away from his
wide waist and made him look much more streamlined at a heavier
think Gunter actually reached his peak during the finals on Saturday
night. According to the score sheet, he seemed to be grossly overlooked
during the first round but significantly improved his placings
during the mandatory comparisons. I think the judges were not
expecting this German Giant to be in such outstanding condition
and instead directed their attention to bodybuilders such as Coleman,
Levrone, Cormier and Wheeler for comparisons during the relaxed
round of judging.
hours later, however, Gunter had reached the physical peak of
his lifetime and stepped onstage for his posing routine full,
hard, vascular and ripped. He got both fuller and harder for the
evening finals and completely stole the show away from the bodybuilders
who got so much attention earlier in the day. The same thing actually
happened to reigning champ Ronnie Coleman the first year he won
the Olympia. Ronnie was not expected to finish in the top three
that year but, by the time the evening show came around, Ronnie
was so full and hard that he looked like he was going to burst.
He caught the crowd's attention and everyone was chanting his
name as the contest neared it's end. The same thing happened to
Gunter in 2002.
were two winners at this year's Mr. Olympia contest. Ronnie Coleman
took home his fifth Sandow trophy but Gunter Schlierkamp was the
true champion and the audience verified this with an incredible
standing ovation and raucous applause. Gunter made the other five
bodybuilders in the posedown look like little boys as he towered
over everyone in the line-up. The highlight was when he posed
down right next to Ronnie Coleman and outshined the champ by looking
both bigger and harder. What a memorable night for a fantastic
Place - Lee Priest
Lee again reached peak condition for the Mr. Olympia contest.
He has some of the thickest arms and legs in the sport and was
ripped and ready to make the top six tonight. Lee's only weakness
is that his torso does not match up to those incredible limbs.
His back looked great while posing it but it lacks width and thickness
when he is standing relaxed. Someone with Lee's structure will
always have a problem beating men with bigger structures like
Ronnie or Levrone but he did manage to beat Chris Cormier earlier
in the year at the San Francisco Grand Prix. He deserves credit
for building one of the best physiques in the sport at a height
of only 5'4". Lee is also one of the best posers in the sport,
always giving a well-choreographed routine filled with artistic
Place - Flex Wheeler
I thought Flex would be challenging for one of the top three spots
at this year's Mr. Olympia contest since he made the decision
to compete at a lighter bodyweight. When Flex made his pro debut
in 1993, he was recognized as one of the best professional bodybuilders
in the history of the sport due to his incredible shape combined
with impressive thickness and mass. After trying to beat Ronnie
from 1998-2000 by competing in the 240 pound range, Flex decided
to go back to a lighter bodyweight to regain his winning ways.
rumor is that Flex competed at this year's Olympia without using
any anabolic steroids or other drugs. I don't know if I quite
believe that statement but Flex was much, much lighter than I
have ever seen him. He didn't look like he weighed more than 215
pounds onstage. Although his arms and delts were still very large
(possibly due to his past admitted use of synthol in those bodyparts?)
and his legs had incredible shape and separation, his lats and
pecs were very small compared to the previous version of Flex
Wheeler. His lat spread poses were very underwhelming due to his
lack of size in his torso.
was placed high in the symmetry round of the pre-judging but his
scores dropped during the muscularity round. He gave an entertaining
posing routine and his overall general attitude seemed to be that
he was just happy to be onstage again. The pressure and bad attitude
that he displayed in the past was now replaced with a more calm
demeanor and he happily congratulated the six bodybuilders who
placed ahead of him when he was announced seventh place. I personally
thought Flex was very lucky to place in the top ten due to his
greatly reduced muscle mass.
Place - Markus Ruhl
Big Markus Ruhl from Germany regained a top ten placing in this
year's Olympia after placing a very disappointing 14th place last
year. Markus is one of the largest bodybuilders alive although
he is not the most pleasing physique to look at. He has slabs
and slabs of beef piled onto his frame and the judges have previously
marked him down for his lack of shape and symmetry. Tonight, he
was not as ripped and hard as he was for his Night of the Champions
win in May but the judges awarded him with eighth place for possessing
such gargantuan mass and size. I would have liked to have seen
Markus compete as hard as he was for the NOC. I felt he was a
little too soft for this show and his belly was protruding more
than it should have been. He definitely has some impressive mass
and is always a crowd favorite. He even added a little butt shaking
to his posing routine although he did not dare to attempt a full
split position as Ronnie Coleman did in his performance.
Place - Orville Burke
last year's very successful year, including a surprising sixth
place finish in the 2001 Mr. Olympia, Orville Burke laid low this
year and saved it all for the Big O. Orville added some serious
mass to his physique and was one of the largest competitors onstage.
I thought the additional size looked great on Orville and he deserved
to be in the top 10. However, the extreme definition that Orville
displayed last year (striated glutes, reduced waistline, etc)
were missing this year and the judges took him to task for it.
His back looked incredible and his lat spread poses (both front
and back) are a sight to see due to his extremely developed high
lats. If Orville comes back next year with more definition and
manages to hold onto his newly acquired size, he should definitely
make a big impact.
Place - Dennis James
Dennis barely made the top ten in this very competitive competition
thereby beating out 15 other bodybuilders. I feel that Dennis
definitely has the genetic potential to easily place in the top
three of the Mr. Olympia if and when he really peaks. If you don't
believe me, check out his video "Dennis James - This Is How
I Do It". He is incredibly thick and freaky in the off-season
but always seems to lose it when he steps onstage. I thought Dennis
was lucky to make the top ten this year because he was not in
peak condition. I don't know if he was holding water or if he
came in a little flat but his muscles did not jump out when he
hit his poses despite his substantial muscle mass. I've seen Dennis
compete in top shape at other shows but he seems to have a hard
time getting it right for the Big O.
Place - Craig Titus
Craig had a good day this year by placing just out of the top
ten in his second Mr. Olympia contest. He overdieted last year
in an attempt to bring down his waistline and ended up flattening
out his physique. This year, he ate more calories and came in
fuller and heavier. I thought he was much improved from last year
with huge, vascular thighs, a thick back and impressive arms.
However, his somewhat flat pecs and expanding waistline throw
off the shape of his physique and I feel he was placed ahead of
some other bodybuilders who could have beaten him (Art Atwood
and Ahmad Haider in particular). To his credit, Craig did place
way ahead of his hated nemesis, King Kamali, who missed his peak
Place - Art Atwood
Art was making his Olympia debut after winning his first pro show
in May and beating the newly crowned NOC champion, Markus Ruhl.
I predicted that Art could possibly surprise everyone and make
the top five but he was, instead, unfairly placed out of the top
ten. Art has potential plus with an incredible amount of muscle
mass on a big frame. His thick pecs and lats were more impressive
than almost any other bodybuilder on stage. Art was in good condition
with a Christmas tree lower back and striated glutes but could
have been a little harder from the front. If he would have shown
up in the same condition that he did in Toronto, maybe the judges
would have awarded him a higher placing. As it was, I still felt
that Art deserved at least seventh place, ahead of Flex, Markus,
Orville, Dennis and Titus. If you don't believe me, check out
the photos of Art in the mandatory poses during the comparisons.
He makes some of the pros who placed ahead of them look like little
boys! Keep your head up, Art. You have some of the best physical
potential of any pro bodybuilder currently competing today!
Place - Ahmad Haider
Ahmad was this year's surprise bodybuilder placing fourth in the
Pro IRONMAN show and sixth at the Arnold Classic. He probably
has the best set of abs in professional bodybuilding and a very
pleasing, symmetrical physique. I think Ahmad needs to bring up
his lats so he looks as impressive from the rear as he does from
the front. Also, Ahmad was slightly harder for the earlier spring
shows than he was for the Olympia. Due to his somewhat smaller
stature and lighter bodyweight, Ahmad needs to be extremely ripped
and hard to beat out some of the bigger bodybuilders. However,
he was able to beat one of the biggest (6'4" Quincy Taylor)
at the IRONMAN and Arnold Classic so it's definitely possible.
I think Ahmad has a good career ahead of him.
Place - Ernie Taylor
Ernie Taylor from England earned 14th spot in this very tough
contest. I don't have anything against Ernie personally but I
feel that he should be placed down by the judges due to his obvious
use of synthol. His triceps are notorious in the bodybuilding
world as being "oil-enhanced" and I don't think anyone
really believes that he earned those triceps from just doing skull-crushers
and pushdowns. This year, Ernie looked like he added some more
synthol to his physique in his legs. His vastus medialis (the
teardrop muscle in the thighs) had a very funky shape that I've
never seen before. As for the rest of his physique, Ernie looked
to be a little flat during the comparisons. His arms are freaky
huge, of course, but his torso looked too depleted. And then,
there were those oddly shaped thighs...
Place - Nasser El Sonbaty
Nasser returned to his "Big" look for the Olympia after
trying to compete at a lighter bodyweight at the Arnold Classic
earlier in the year. I thought he looked much better but it was
still not good enough to place in the top ten. This was Nasser's
first time out of the top ten in the Mr. Olympia since 1994 and
it looks like he may never regain that winning combination of
size and hardness that allowed him to take second to Dorian Yates
in 1997 and place in the top three in '95, '96 and '98. The synthol
injections in his arms and delts are very distracting and Nasser
just doesn't seem to be able to regain those sharp lines in his
abs that he showed off so well in the '90's.
Place - Darrem Charles
Darrem was a true champion competing in this year's Mr. Olympia
competition despite the fact that his mother was killed only 2
weeks earlier. What incredible heart he has to persevere under
such tragic conditions. Darrem performed a beautiful posing routine
that was dedicated to his late mother and I'm sure there weren't
many dry eyes in the house after he finished. As for his physique,
I thought it was a much improved version of Darrem Charles. He
definitely increased his size and it may have dulled his normally
razor sharp condition a little but I could have seen him placing
several positions higher due to his outstanding symmetry and shape.
Place - King Kamali
What a surprise this was! After last year's outstanding debut
as a pro, I thought Kamali would move up several places from his
impressive tenth place finish last year at the Olympia. Instead,
he dropped way out of the coveted top ten all the way down to
17th place. King was very flat this year compared to his full,
hard condition last year. He still gave a great posing routine
that was somewhat similar to last year's outstanding performance.
I'm sure Kamali simply miscalculated his diet toward the end and
will be back next year in great shape.
Place - Bob Cicherillo
Hollywood Bob, as he is now known in bodybuilding circles, also
placed very low at the Olympia this year. Bob looked too smooth
during the pre-judging but he looked like he hardened up for the
night show. Cicherillo placed very well in the competitions he
competed in this year (2nd in the Southwest Pro and the NOC) and
he is a big guy with great shape so if he comes in really hard,
he will place higher again. The front double biceps and lat spread
poses are tailor made for his physique.
Place - George Farah
George is another bodybuilder who has made remarkable strides
since turning pro. He has added considerable mass to his physique
in the last two years but he still has a hard time in a group
such as this due to his short stature and lack of size. The scar
on his stomach still detracts from his ab poses but he deserves
major props just for making it to the Olympia stage after being
shot and being declared clinically dead only a few short years
ago. His physique is somewhat reminiscent of Lee Labrada but that
was a different era when Lee was winning pro shows so it should
be interesting to see how George does next year. He's obviously
a guy who doesn't give up easily.
Place - Francisco "Paco" Bautista
This was the first time I got to see Paco Bautista and he has
a very impressive physique. He is packed with an incredible amount
of muscle on his frame complete with paper-thin skin. His leg
development is beyond freaky and his glutes were the most striated
onstage next to Ronnie Coleman. Unfortunately, his overall shape
is very blocky and he could use more lat width from the back to
enhance his symmetry. I also noticed some use of synthol on his
physique (in the side delts) along with some bad gyno. However,
there were others who placed higher that also displayed a blatant
use of synthol and they were not nearly as hard as Bautista was.
If the judges are going to look the other way when judging synthol
and other drug abuses, I don't understand why Paco was placed
so near the bottom of the pile. If you're looking for a freaky
bodybuilder who is both massive and shredded, Paco Bautista is
Place - Claude Groulx
Claude placed at the bottom of the pack again as he did last year.
Claude has an incredible amount of muscle mass packed on his frame
(hard to believe he used to compete as a middleweight). However,
his waist is just too big due to his large weight gain over the
last few years. His delts, back, legs and arms are incredibly
thick but his waist matches these bodyparts in girth and this
destroys his overall symmetry and shape.
Place - Tommi Thorvildsen
Tommi was too smooth for his first Olympia. He is another bodybuilder
who doesn't have the best shape so he really needs to come in
ripped to place high. His arms are too small for the rest of his
physique, his waist is a little too wide and his torn right pec
detracts from the overall picture. Tommi has a great attitude,
however, and he really enjoys being onstage. He is very young
compared to the rest of the Olympia competitors so he has several
years left in him to make improvements, especially since he is
now living in California.
Place - Jaroslav Horvath
Jaroslav has a really impressive physique and I think he was placed
much too low in his first Olympia. He has full muscle bellies
with nice shape and he came in very hard. He seemed to be punished
by the judges for being shorter and lighter (191 pounds) than
the rest of the competitors. I hope he keeps competing and gets
some more publicity in the magazines as I feel he has some great
Place - Gustavo Badell
Gustavo has a thick physique but is simply not big enough or aesthetic
enough to place high at the Mr. Olympia. I think he was harder
earlier in the year when he qualified for this show but he will
have a hard time making the top rung in a contest like the Olympia
due to his structural shortcomings.
Place - Don Youngblood
Don was a real disappointment in this contest. He has been a real
surprise over the last couple of years, coming out of nowhere
to nearly upset Vince Taylor at last year's Masters Olympia contest.
This year, he really shocked everyone by doing what was thought
impossible, beating Taylor at the Masters Olympia and then getting
a special invite to the big show, the Mr. Olympia. At 47 years
old, he is still really impressive but he looked like he went
off his diet after beating Vince and never went back on it. His
stomach was sticking out during his full posing routine and definitely
looked bloated. I guess he was just happy to be there.
Overall, it was a very exciting Mr. Olympia competition this year.
Ronnie Coleman barely won his fifth title and was booed for the
first time in his reign as the top champ. Coleman stated at the
press conference that he will be competing for the next two years.
What will he look like next year? He will obviously need to be
much improved from the deflated version he presented this year
to hold off competitors such as Jay Cutler, Gunter Schlierkamp
and Kevin Levrone. The crowd may start a riot next year unless
the judges take a much closer look at all the contestants for
the Big O. Everyone seems to be hungry for a new champion. Will
it happen next year or will Coleman come back in his best shape
ever to quiet his detractors (of which there are many after this
year's controversial victory). Stay Tuned!
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