I made all of these comments from what I saw from internet pictures and from the pay per view live broadcast. I was not at the prejudging or the evening show. In my experience pictures and videos do not always do the competitors justice. I would have been able to make much more accurate and detailed assessments of the Mr. "O" having been there. The judging was on (except for Art in my books) this year and not too many competitors could complain about their placing.
There were 16 competitors that competed for the Sandow.
1st - Ronnie Coleman - USA
I think that the best thing that could have happened to Ronnie was the huge undeserving upset at last years GNC SOS. This really made Ronnie bite down on the bit and find himself. Ronnie brought the best package that I have ever seen from him. When he pulled the reverse split and the glutes were twitching showing every striation in super detail I knew that he had it.
He was the biggest and he was in the best shape out of all competitors you can not beat that. In the interview before that evening show Ronnie was displaying the most confident version of Ronnie Coleman that I had ever seen. His head was held up high, he had a serious look and demeanor, and he seemed to be focused. As I had predicted the champ prevailed and this time no one can say that he was undeserving because from what I saw he had a 1st place victory coming to him clear cut.
2nd - Jay Cutler - USA
I thought that Jay would have been a little more "on the money." Jay did not seem to have the conditioning that I saw from him in 2001. I was expecting to see "Razor Cutz" - Jay Cutler you know the guy that is "A Cut Above the Rest", but he was not there and I think that deep down inside Jay knew it. There is still no doubt in my mind that Jay will become Mr. "O" someday. I was right Jay placed 2nd but it was close to an unexpected 3rd place finisher.
3rd - Dexter Jackson - USA
I knew that he was going to come in with that "pretty-symmetrical" look. What I did not know was that he would come in heavier and just as sliced. He has great genetics and personally I had him ahead of Jay, but in Jay's defense I did not see the prejudging. As predicted Dexter was "on time" and ready to do battle.
4th - Dennis James - USA (Resides in Thailand)
I knew that DJ would be thick & massive but I did not think he would come in the condition that he presented this year. I predicted a 9th place finish before seeing him that evening. Once I saw what he brought to the table I knew that he would end up beating one of his favorite bodybuilders, Kevin Levrone.
5th - Gunter Schlierkamp - Germany
I was not too far off on this one I predicted a 4th place finish for Big Gunter. I knew he would be a crowd favorite and I predicted that he would not be able to pull off a victory at the Olympia. He claimed that some said he had improved from last year but I disagree, I have a pretty good set of eyes too. He was not the Gunter that we saw at the Mr. "O" or the "SOS" in 2002.
In his defense he did calim to have torn some muscles in his legs which obviously hindered him from being at his best. I like Gunter as a bodybuilder and I think that he does a lot of good for the sport but he was placed where he deserved to be placed this year. Gunter even acknowledged the fact that he thought that he had made improvements (which I did not see) and that he was not sure that they were enough to beat Ronnie that evening.
6th - Kevin Levrone - USA
Kevin suffered a triceps injury and was not at his best. He was supposed to be a 'no show' along with Lee Priest. I had predicted a 3rd place finish before the Mr. "O" but he too received the placing that he deserved. Kudos & respect to him for making the show.
7th - Darrem Charles - Trinidad
I said that he was improving every time he competes and that he would look great this year. I had predicted him 12th, boy was I wrong his symmetry, conditioning, poise, & posing abilities brought together an overall package landing him in the top 10.
8th - Troy Alves - USA
Here is a man that I did not even have in the top 10 in my early predictions, but I tell you what, he gained a lot of respect in my books. He was in shape and had a great look. No one would have known him to be a rookie. I expect to see him remaining in the top 10 and gradually moving up into the top 6 within the nest 3 years.
9th - Melvin Anthony - USA
I was close with Melvin predicting a 10th place finish before the Mr. "O". I said that he would bring his best look ever and I believe that he was close to it. He was thick, in shape, and showboated a little while playing up to the audience. 2003 was a good showing for Melvin.
10th - Ernie Taylor - England
AKA: "Mr. Triceps" He has a good look, but to have balance he needs to have massive legs. Are his legs small? NO! They are just out matched by his arms. His arms overall take away from his physique. Furthermore I thought that he was a tad bit harder last year which I acknowledged before as being his best look ever. He proved me wrong and made the top 10 a prediction that I did not make.
11th - Johnnie Jackson - USA
I like Johnnie's physique, he is not a big man but I relate to him. I favored him at the SOS last year which was his pro debut. He comes from a powerlifting background, as do I. His symmetry and conditioning were spot on. I predict that Johnnie will have a great future, he may never be Mr. "O" but he will be one of the best.
12th - Rodney St. Cloud - USA
Another rookie that made a great showing, I was impressed by his physique and conditioning. The rookies really made a great impression and came in ready to do battle. Look for him next year to come out swinging!
13th - Art Atwood - USA
Art was the one who got the most respect this year, from me anyway. I was at the show getting ready to go out and compete in the overall at the 2003 Mr. Louisiana when Art injured himself. I never thought that he would make it to the Mr. "O", well he did and on top of that he looked great. Now, I did not see the prejudging but from the evening show what I saw was unbelievable. Art was the only guy that I felt was really robbed so to speak.
He deserved to be in the top 10. Hey I know that bodybuilding is a subjective sport, but as I said before I have a pretty good pair of eyes and Art was HUGE & conditioned. I think that if he stays injury free he will have his revenge next year. I am not sure why they placed him so low.
14th - Claude Groulx - Canada
I predicted that he would get the respect he deserved the only problem is that he did not come in as depicted in these photographs: (Photographs of Claude after the Masters 2003 Mr. "O"). He was phenomenal at the Masters winning the Masters Mr. O, but he did not have it Oct 25th. Claude very well could have been in the top 10 as I predicted who knows what happened?
15th - Lee Priest - Australia
I predicted that coming out of his short retirement he would be "on time." Lee made the biggest fool out of me because I had predicted a 6th place finish and he managed to come in the worst shape that I have ever seen from him in the contest season. I am not going to be negative because I respect him as an IFBB Pro, but I was shocked when he came out. (Pictures here.)
16th - Jonathan Davie - Australia
His first showing at the Mr. "O" in my opinion he should have beaten Lee. He did not impress me at the evening show but the pics from prejudging showed different he looked better in the AM. As most of you know by now Chris Cormier from the USA dropped out after contracting a stomach virus that would have held him from peaking how he wanted to. I had predicted Chris "The Real deal...Nuff said" I was wrong.
Pictures Courtesy of Flexonline.com.
More Info On The 2003 Olympia Weekend
Dino Paul Pierce, CFT (III)