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Can Iain Valliere Win The 2021 Arnold Classic?

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By Roger Lockridge

The 2021 Arnold Classic lineup was announced in June, and it’s a star-studded lineup. Among the athletes competing this year is Canada’s own Iain Valliere. Last year was a great one for Valliere, thanks to his victory at the New York Pro show and a seventh-place finish at the 2020 Mr. Olympia contest. Unfortunately, he still has to qualify for the 2021 Olympia and is expected to jump into one of the upcoming contests.

This year’s Arnold Classic actually grants the winner a qualification to the 2022 Olympia, so the champion will have a year to prepare for that competition. Valliere, who will be making his 2021 debut at the Arnold, has a lot more riding on the show than that. If he were to win this contest, he would be Canada’s first winner of the contest, which dates back to Rich Gaspari’s inaugural win in 1989. The closest any Canadian has come to standing with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the end of the show is Ben Pakulski, who finished as the runner-up to champion Dexter Jackson in 2013.

So who would Valliere have to defeat in order to make bodybuilding history? The entire lineup is full of talent, but here are a few names that should be on his radar.

William Bonac

Bonac has won this contest twice and is the defending champion. He hopes to win his third this year. Only two places separated Bonac and Valliere at the Olympia last year, so he is within striking distance. Bonac is tough to beat when he is on, but any mistake could give Valliere the opportunity he needs.

Cedric McMillan

McMillan won the title in 2017 and can match Valliere in the size department. McMillan’s symmetry and presentation are his strengths, but the judges feel his conditioning has been inconsistent, and that is what Valliere can deliver on. This would be a very interesting matchup.

Steve Kuclo (ALLMAX Sponsored Athlete)

Steve Kuclo has always been a fan favorite, and he has several bodybuilding titles to his credit. He placed fourth at the Arnold Classic show last year. The only men to beat him were William “The Conqueror” Bonac, Dexter “The Blade” Jackson, and Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay. The two Olympia winners are out of this lineup, so the door is wide open for the Texas native to win this show.

Sergio Oliva Jr.

The son of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s greatest rival (Sergio Oliva Sr.) placed fifth in Columbus, Ohio, in 2020. He was also given the Best Poser award. He’s had a long off-season and has packed on a lot of size. The size and presentation could be quite the obstacle for Valliere to clear. These two could very well be in the final callout of this show as well as the Olympia within the next couple of seasons.

Roelly Winklaar

Winklaar is a former Arnold Australia champion as well as the 2009 Arnold Amateur winner. He has placed as high as third at the Mr. Olympia, and he was the first "People's Champion". After missing the 2020 Olympia due to testing positive for COVID-19, he's on a mission to cement his name as one of the best bodybuilders on the planet. His arms will stand out, and he's worked on his conditioning over the last few years, which was considered a weakness of his early in his career. 

Nick Walker

Walker won the 2021 New York Pro back in May, and his following has been growing steadily. This is similar to what happened to Valliere one year ago after he took the victory at the same contest in 2020. These two will be facing each other for many years to come, so what better place to be introduced to each other than the Arnold stage? Walker will also be competing in Columbus for the first time. Valliere has more muscle maturity, but Walker has shown that he can improve upon his last show every time so far.

Akim Williams

Williams placed one position ahead of Valliere at the Olympia in Orlando, Florida, back in December. He just won the Puerto Rico Pro and appears to be in his best shape ever. Like McMillan, he hasn’t always been on point. If he misses his peak onstage, and Valliere is on, he could certainly place ahead of the native of Brooklyn, New York.

Full Arnold Classic 2021 Lineup (in Alphabetical Order)

  • Lionel Beyeke
  • William Bonac
  • Maxx Charles
  • Seung Chul Lee
  • Mohamed El Eman
  • Steve Kuclo
  • Cedric McMillan
  • Hassan Mostafa
  • Sergio Oliva Jr.
  • Justin Rodriguez
  • Iain Valliere
  • Akim Williams
  • Roelly Winklaar
  • Nick Walker