In a competition that was not as exciting or filled with quality competitors as in previous years, Ronnie eliminated any surprises by blowing away the competition. Perhaps due to the new IFBB guidelines which only allowed this year's top six finishers (as opposed to the top ten) to automatically qualify for the following year's Mr. Olympia, many top pros decided to sit out this year's competition. Victor Martinez, Shawn Ray, King Kamali and Craig Titus were only some of the bodybuilders who decided to wait until next year.
Injuries and illness also eliminated many competitors from this year's Mr. O. Flex Wheeler, one of the greatest professional bodybuilders of the last decade, had to walk away from competition forever due to an inherited kidney disease. Flex had a kidney transplant on September 16th but was still on hand to cheer his former competitors. Orville Burke, a top ten finalist over the last two years, also was forced to walk away from the sport after being in a coma for several weeks late last year after complications following surgery to reattach a torn tricep muscle.
Some bodybuilders were sidelined with serious injuries prior to the competition. Markus Ruhl, who was having a successful year after his impressive third place finish at the Arnold Classic, tore his tricep muscle only two months before the contest. He sat out the show this year. Kevin Levrone, however, also tore his tricep two months prior to the show but he was somehow still miraculously onstage for his 12th consecutive Olympia appearance.
Art Atwood, who had a great rookie year in 2002, also suffered a severe injury by tearing his quad in July during a guest posing appearance. Art was also surprisingly onstage after having recent surgery to reattach his torn quadriceps muscle. The same could not be said of perennial favorite Chris Cormier, however. Chris was one of the favorites leading up to the show but he had to pull out during the last week due to a bout with intestinal flu. He was on hand to offer his commentary for the pay-per-view telecast.
Here are the final placings as well as my thoughts on each of the competitors from the 2003 Mr. Olympia contest:
The Placings Along With My Commentary...
For full pics of the show, check out this link.
1st Place - Ronnie Coleman
Ronnie won his sixth Mr. Olympia contest with a vengeance! Competing at an incredibly massive 287 pounds, Ronnie destroyed the competition with a physique that could not possibly be equaled.
Displaying incredible size and thickness, Ronnie actually looked more like a Marvel Comics superhero character with ballooning proportions than just a typical pro bodybuilder. His arms looked to be over 23 inches and his thighs and glutes were as large and defined as a prize-winning race horse. Of course, his back, chest, delts and traps were all proportionately enormous. Even Ronnie's much maligned waistline was noticeably harder and not as expanding as it was over his last few wins.
After last year's unpopular win at the Mr. Olympia followed by a surprise loss to rising star Gunter Schlierkamp at the inaugural GNC Show of Strength, Ronnie obviously decided to present a much bigger physique the next year. He slaved away in the gym for a full year and kept a low profile while nearly everyone in the bodybuilding industry counted him out.
His depleted 245 pound physique from last year was eliminated from our memory the moment this year's monster-sized version of Ronnie Coleman stepped onstage. Despite the presence of Jay Cutler and Gunter Schlierkamp, NO ONE could come close to even comparing to the new Ronnie Coleman. After this year's decisive victory, it now seems very possible that Ronnie could catch Lee Haney's incredible record of eight consecutive wins. Even at the age of 39, it seems that no one is in Coleman's league.
2nd Place - Jay Cutler
Jay was obviously the man favored to steal the title away from Ronnie Coleman after his dominating wins earlier in the year at the Pro IronMan, Arnold Classic and the San Francisco Grand Prix. It seemed that Jay was on a role and had made the necessary improvements to his physique to take over the role of Mr. Olympia. At only 30 years of age, Jay was certainly young enough to become the next leading force in bodybuilding.
Unfortunately for Jay, he was simply no match for the dominating force of Ronnie Coleman on this night. Although competing at a massive bodyweight of 270 pounds, Jay was still not as big or as hard as the champ was at the Mr. Olympia. Judging by the pictures of the pre-judging and the PPV telecast of the night show, Jay seemed to be a little harder during the day compared to the finals but he was far short of having enough artillery to dethrone Ronnie Coleman.
Displaying ultra-wide shoulders and plenty of mass in his upper body, Jay certainly has the size and proportions that are necessary for a Mr. Olympia victory. His normally rock-hard abs were not as sharp as they were in 2001 and his always impressive legs actually looked somewhat smaller compared to the monstrous legs of Coleman. Jay's former weak point, his back, looked to be thicker and wider than before but was still lacking in muscularity. Jay has the type of physique where his legs are always hard but his upper body, particularly his back, tends to hold water. This was case at this year's Mr. Olympia.
3rd Place - Dexter Jackson
Dexter was the surprise of this year's Mr. Olympia contest. Just as Gunter shocked everyone with the improvements he made last year, Dexter did the same this year as he presented a physique that was much bigger and improved over any showing he has made in the past.
Dexter always shows up in ripped condition (hence the nickname "The Blade") but this year he added at least 20 pounds of muscle to his shapely physique and was all the better for it. His back, which was previously his weak point, was much thicker and wider to the point where it is now in perfect proportion to the rest of his impressive physique.
I also noticed how much thicker his pecs were in comparison to his incredible arms, delts and quads. I would not have been surprised if Dexter was announced in second place to Ronnie Coleman and ahead of Jay Cutler. Aside from Ronnie's mind-blowing physique, Dexter was the most impressive body onstage that night.
4th Place - Dennis James
Dennis also presented his best physique at this year's Mr. Olympia contest. Renowned as one of bodybuilding's biggest competitors as well as a bodybuilder with some of the most promising genetics, Dennis finally dialed it in this year and stepped onstage both big and hard. In previous Mr. Olympia competitions, Dennis seemed like he would lose his condition by the time he got up onstage, showing up either flat or smooth. This was in stark contrast to the amazing physique he displayed in the weeks leading up to the show.
Working with both Charles Glass and Chad Nicholls for this year's show, Dennis finally realized some of that enormous potential at the Mr. Olympia competition. He weighed 255 pounds and was noticeably much harder than most of his competitors. His abs were rock hard and his extremely wide shoulders helped to cap off one of the most massive physiques in any line-up. He still needs to bring up his calves to balance those massive thighs as well as develop more refinement in his back. Dennis has high lats which hurts him in poses such as the rear double biceps but he was overall much better this year than ever before. Congratulations to Dennis on making the top four in the Mr. Olympia contest.
5th Place - Gunter Schlierkamp
Gunter repeated his placing from last year with a physique that was not as impressive as the 2002 model. Although slightly heavier than last year, Gunter failed to display the sharp muscularity and fullness that caused the crowd at the Mandalay Bay to give him a standing ovation last year.
Gunter was considered one of the favorites for this year's Olympia after his surprise victory over reigning champ Ronnie Coleman at the inaugural GNC Show of Strength only weeks after the 2002 Olympia. Taking the whole year off in order to prepare for this show, Gunter showed up big and full but he lacked the rock hard physique that allowed him to knock out Ronnie last year. The structure and muscle mass are still evident but Gunter will need to reacquire his outstanding condition from 2002 if he wants to challenge Ronnie in the future.
6th Place - Kevin Levrone
After tearing his tricep muscle in the gym only two months before the Mr. Olympia contest, it was amazing that Kevin Levrone even made it onstage. Often referred to as a warrior in the sport of bodybuilding, Kevin proved that nothing could stop him from competing in his 12th consecutive Mr. Olympia.
Although he was noticeably smaller than last year in the legs and back, Kevin still displayed a physique that was good enough to defeat the majority of competitors he faced onstage who did not suffer any serious injuries in the months leading up to the show. Kevin performed one of the best posing routines of the night and did a good job of showing off his incredible arms and delts. I look forward to seeing Kevin come back next year better than ever.
7th Place - Darrem Charles
Darrem achieved his best placing ever in the Mr. Olympia this year with a physique that was not his all time best. Although he is always in top shape, Darrem still needs to add more muscle mass to his frame to move up the ladder at the Mr. Olympia. If he could add 15-20 pounds of quality beef like Dexter Jackson did, he would really shock some people.
Darrem is one of the best performers in the sport and he didn't disappoint at the night show. He repeated the same routine that he brought to the stage at the 1998 Mr. Olympia. Unfortunately, Darrem was not able to win the new Best Presentation award that Shawn Ray was awarding to this year's best posing routine although I'm sure he was in the running. He definitely had one of the best performances of the night. Unfortunately for Darrem, he had to pose right after Ronnie Coleman which probably did not help him to look as impressive as he really was in the eyes of the judges.
8th Place - Troy Alves
Troy looked great in his Olympia debut. At only 215 pounds, Troy had great shape and was as hard as a rock onstage. Troy seems to making a wise decision to compete in great condition every time he competes and slowly build more mass as opposed to putting on too much weight too quickly and sabotaging his definition.
Troy has great arms and an impressive back and as he adds more mass to his legs, he will be even better in the future. He seemed very composed onstage and seems to know exactly what he needs to do to improve his physique.
9th Place - Melvin Anthony
Melvin Anthony was looking for revenge after his disappointing eighth place finish at this year's Arnold Classic. Unfortunately, Melvin was still not as hard as he could have been and only placed ninth in a line-up that was missing many quality competitors. He was particularly soft in the glutes and hamstrings compared to his impressive condition at the Pro IronMan show earlier in the year.
Melvin still presented one of the best posing routines of the evening. In fact, he was awarded the Best Presentation Award by Shawn Ray the day after the Mr. Olympia. This new award (along with a $9,000 cash prize) was put together by Shawn to reward the most outstanding posing routine at the Mr. Olympia. Combining a theme from both "The Gladiator" and "Terminator 2", Melvin wowed the crowd with his break dancing moves and smooth transitions. As Arnold himself would have said, he will be back.
10th Place - Ernie Taylor
Ernie Taylor made some significant improvements to his physique and earned a top ten placing at the Olympia. Ernie looked to be much fuller than the depleted condition he presented last year. His legs, in particular, looked much bigger and with a greater sweep. Of course, his now infamous triceps were in full effect along with the rest of his physique. One has to wonder if the look of his suspicious tricep muscles lowers Ernie's standing in the eyes of the judges.
11th Place - Johnnie Jackson
Johnnie was making his pro debut in the Olympia after qualifying at this year's Night of the Champions competition. With one of the thickest physiques currently on the pro circuit, Johnnie has a great look with enormous pecs, mountainous traps and a back that looks like it could routinely deadlift prodigious poundages. Johnnie still needs bigger arms and his calves looked way out of proportion compared to his huge thighs but the thickness and hardness he displays onstage is extremely impressive. He also manages to compete in rock-hard condition every time he steps onstage. Look for good things from Johnnie next year.
12th Place - Rodney St. Cloud
Rodney was a pleasant surprise on the pro circuit this year. He has added considerable mass since he earned his pro card as a light heavyweight competitor at the 1999 NPC Nationals and now has a physique that placed in the money at the Mr. Olympia contest. Rodney has outstanding deltoids and thighs and he was in very good condition for this competition. He needs to bring up his calves to be in proportion to his thighs and his arms could also be bigger to balance out those huge delts. He should continue to do better in the future as he adds more beef to his physique.
13th Place - Art Atwood
Art showed a lot of courage by choosing to compete this year despite tearing his quadriceps muscle in July. Art went through with the operation and continued with his preparation for the Olympia. I remember seeing him walking around with a post-operative brace on his leg at the Team Universe competition in August and he was very positive about his entry in this year's Olympia.
As for his condition, Art was his usual massive self but his definition was lacking compared to his previous appearances onstage. I'm sure his cardio training was compromised as he was rehabbing his quadricep injury. Surprisingly, he did not seem any smaller at all and his back was still one of the most impressive onstage. Art has a good career ahead of him and he should be back to his winning ways again next year.
14th Place - Claude Groulx
Claude had a great year in 2003 by winning the Masters Olympia in July. Unfortunately, he placed way down the ladder again at the Olympia due to his lack of conditioning. Claude seemed to be in better condition at last year's Olympia and also at the Masters Olympia this year. He is extremely thick and massive but his wide waist ruins his symmetry and I think that hurts his overall placing, especially in a contest like the Olympia.
15th Place - Lee Priest
Lee was a disappointing surprise at this year's Olympia contest. He was way off in his conditioning and placed next to last in what may be his last Mr. Olympia competition. Lee's sub par conditioning was a shock to me because Lee usually always competes in top shape every time he steps onstage. No matter how heavy (or fat) that Lee allows himself to get in the off-season, he always seems to pull it together in time for the show. In addition to his lack of definition, Lee also made the decision to compete with long hair this year in contrast to his normally short haircut. Anyone who competes knows that long hair and bodybuilding competition do not go together. It only detracts from the look of the physique.
Lee has been passionately involved in Nascar racing for the last few years. He even sports a big "Nascar" tattoo on one of his shoulders. Lee wrote an article for Muscular Development magazine earlier in the year stating that he was retiring from the sport of bodybuilding. Surprisingly, here he was onstage again this year for the Mr. Olympia contest. Judging by his uncharacteristic conditioning onstage, I think Lee may be losing his motivation for this sport. We'll have to wait and see if he decides to compete again.
16th Place - Jonathan Davies
Last place went to Jonathan Davies from Australia. Jonathan qualified for the Olympia by placing third behind Chris Cormier and Troy Alves at the 2003 Australia Grand Prix. Unfortunately, he was outclassed by the competition in the biggest bodybuilding show on the planet. Jonathan is very tall and still needs to add more mass to his frame to be more competitive on the pro circuit. He looked to be overjoyed to be competing in his first Olympia.
Highlights Of The Night
The highlight of the 2003 Mr. Olympia contest was the appearance of the Governor-elect of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. Arnold addressed the sold out crowd with the statement, "I feel like I'm home again". He paid tribute to Joe and Ben Weider and thanked them for supporting him throughout his career and especially in his campaign for Governor.
A special award was presented to the man who broke Arnold's record of seven Mr. Olympia wins, Lee Haney. Lee is one of the class acts of bodybuilding and he gave a great speech in which he thanked his wife Shirley who accompanied him to the stage. He also praised the influence of Joe Weider on the world of bodybuilding.
The most humorous point of the evening was when 2-time Mr. Olympia Franco Columbu was also awarded a special honorary medal. Franco impishly smiled at the crowd and said he was so happy because he "got an award and Arnold didn't get anything". Arnold heard his good friend talking about him so he came out from behind the curtain and mocked Franco from behind his back with hand signals. The crowd laughed uproariously as Arnold brought down the house again. It was so refreshing to see these two legends of the sport back together and having fun again.
After the awards were handed out, the top six competitors engaged in an entertaining posedown. However, due to Ronnie Coleman's overwhelming physique, there was no tension in the air about who would win this year. The placings were anti-climatic as an out of shape Levrone and Gunter received the sixth and fifth place awards, respectively. Dennis James and Dexter Jackson were awarded their highest Olympia placings by showing up in their best-ever condition. Jay Cutler was an obvious second place as he never really challenged Ronnie throughout the day. Coleman, of course, was overwhelmed and emotional upon hearing his name announced as the winner.
During his victory speech, Ronnie thanked everyone from God to the fans and promised to be back next year and every year after "until God decides that he should quit". It looks as if Arnold and Lee Haney's record of Olympia wins may be on the line, especially if Ronnie continues to look as dominating as he did this year.
For full pics of the show, check out this link.