Olympia Men's Pre-Judging
All eyes are on the world's top bodybuilders as they take the stage to see who nailed their prep and who missed the chance to own the Olympia stage.
With the shocking death of George Peterson earlier in the week dominating headlines going into the weekend, attention shifted back to the rest of the 19-man lineup for Friday morning’s prejudging at the 2021 Olympia.
Men's 212 Prejudging
It took little time to see the battle for this year's title would be between Shaun Clarida, last season's champion, Kamal Elgargni, the 2019 winner, and Derek Lunsford, the pre-contest pick among some prognosticators who has finished in the runner-up slot previously.
The first callout brought Ahmad Ashkanani, Elgargni, Lunsford, and Clarida to center stage, in that order. Clarida, labeled the "Giant Killer" for his 5-foot-2, 180-pound physique that reminds many of a smaller version of Phil Heath, was quickly moved into the center. Lunsford was on one side, Elgargni on the other.
Clarida, age 38, with his beautiful lines coupled with round, full muscle bellies, is in the hunt for another title, but has his hands full with his larger two main foes.
Elgargni, the ageless wonder from Libya (at age 48), is always in great condition and nailed it again. At 5-foot-6 and 200 pounds, he has the muscle and shape to get back his crown. Lunsford, age 28, is 5-foot-6 and carries about 175-180 pounds of quality muscle. He looks to be in his best shape yet, set off by those impressive wheels, hams, and glutes.
Ashkanani, Kerrith Bajjo, Angel Frias, and John Jewett all looked good and should be in the hunt for a top-five finish as we head into tonight's finals.
I had defending champion Big Ramy, Brandon Curry, and Hadi Choopan as the top three in my predictions and, after Friday night's prejudging, it looks like the prognostication might be spot on.
Of course, a lot can change in the 24 hours between the prejudging and the Finals, so don't book it just yet.
Of the sixteen men in the field, the first callout brought Nick Walker (who won the Arnold Classic two weeks ago), William Bonac, Hunter Labrada, Choopan, Curry, and Big Ramy to center stage for comparisons.
Then the judges began moving the other competitors in and out for a closer look.
Justin Rodriguez, Roelly Winklaar, and Iain Valliere were called out, as was Regan Grimes, Akim Williams, Mo Shaaban (and his giant quads), Patrick Hollingshead, Patrick Moore, Andrea Presti, and Hassan Mostafa over the next three comparisons.
Head judge, Steve Weinberger, made sure all competitors got a good look from the judges. Choopan seemed to be the crowd favorite; webcast commentators Lee Haney and Shawn Ray were leaning toward the Persian Wolf in first, as well.
The judges, however, had a different perspective. The fifth callout matched Valliere, Bonac, Walker, and Labrada. The meant the final comparison would bring Big Ramy and Curry back for another inspection. Big Ramy wasn't as conditioned as last year, and Curry kept getting better as the night went on. And, surprisingly, no Choopan.
Deja vu. The 2019 Olympia winner against last season's champ, an apple-and-oranges call, just like last year. Can Choopan still move up the ladder? Of course he can. He's in great shape and if he gets even tighter, he could move up, and either Big Ramy or Curry could fade. They can all switch places in what promises to be an exciting final judging.
Chris Bumstead, the 26-year-old Canadian, has won the last two Olympia Classic Physique titles, and looks to be the favorite to make it three in a row after Saturday morning's prejudging.
Bumstead was part of the first callout that included Breon Ansley (USA), Alex Cambronero (Costa Rica), Urs Kalecinski (Germany), Fabian Mayr (Austria), Ramon Rocha Querioz (Brazil), Terrence Ruffin (USA), and Mike Summerfeld (Germany).
It didn't take long for the judges to place Bumstead in the middle, and they eventually moved Ansley and Terrence Ruffin into the mix, as well. Ansley was a two-time Olympia Classic Physique champion before Bumstead took away his crown in 2019 and Ruffin was this year's Arnold Classic winner.
Bumstead has a big advantage in size. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, he towers over the 40-year-old Ansley, who stands 5-foot-6 and weighs about 185, and Ruffin, 33, who is listed at 5-foot-5 and 170. Additionally, Bumstead has near perfect proportions, with a small waist, wide shoulders, good legs, and the obligatory vacuum shot that screams "Classic Physique." That said, he has to be spot-on to hold off the challenges of Ansley and Ruffin.
Others not in the first callout but capable of moving up a slot or two at tonight's finals include Bryan Jones (USA), who was placed in the center of the second callout, Courage Opara (USA), Wesley Vissers (Netherlands), and Dani Younan (USA). In all, 26 out of the 27 listed athletes took to the stage, with the USA leading the way with 12 competitors. Zeek Andrews of the USA scratched.
The largest men's class in the Olympia, 33 competitors took the stage in Men's Physique, 20 of them representing the USA.
With two-time defending champion Brandon Hendrickson (USA) in the line-up, and former champion Raymont Edmonds (USA) leading the way, it figured to be a tough class to judge. Possibly the toughest of the entire weekend for the men.
Hendrickson, a 5-foot-8, 185-pounder, is in top shape as usual and will be tough to unseat. Likewise, the 6-foot-2 Edmonds has never been off his mark in any show he competes in, including this one. Call it a toss-up, with perhaps a slight edge to Hendrickson.
The first comparison pitted first-time Olympian Erin Banks (USA), Carlos DeOliveira (Brazil), Andre Ferguson (USA), Kyron Holden (USA), Andrei Lincan (Romania), and Diego Montenegro (Brazil) against the two favorites, with San Diego's Holden leading the way with a strong package of 185 symmetrical pounds on his sturdy 5-foot-5 frame. He has a very complete physique and should be a viable top-three contender.
In the final callout, Holden was on one side of Hendrickson, Montenegro on the other. Lincan also looked very good and could be in the hunt for a top placing. As is usually the case, just about everyone in the field looks good.
Be sure to check back! We'll be updating the men's prejudging results as events unfold throughout the Olympia weekend.