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Olympia 2018 Storylines

Branden Liezert

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This year’s Mr. Olympia weekend is loaded with storylines. However, none are more prominent than the opportunity Phil Heath will have to tie Ronnie “The Big Nasty” Coleman and Lee “Totalee” Haney’s record of eight Mr. Olympia titles. Phil has been very dominant as a champion, but not even “The Gift” is free from haters and nay-sayers. Heath has hoisted seven Sandow trophies thus far, but Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay, William Bonac, Dexter Jackson, and Shawn Rhoden are all legitimate threats to make sure it stops there. Heath has openly declared he plans on taking home 10 Sandows before he’s done making his yearly trips to Las Vegas in the future. While he can be outspoken and plain brash at times, Heath’s confidence comes out onstage, and his presence is always felt by all watching as soon as he takes his first step onstage for prejudging. Will he tie the record and become that much closer to his prediction of double-digit bodybuilding championships?

Dexter “The Blade” Jackson will compete at this illustrious show for a record-breaking (his own record, that is) 19th time. Father Time seems to be giving Dex a lot more leeway than most, and “Uncle Dex” makes the most of it. It’s hard to imagine any scenario where Jackson is outside of the first callout, and honestly, you’re pretty much forced to believe him when he says he’s looking better than ever. He was narrowly edged out by William Bonac earlier this year in Columbus, but “The Blade” has made a career of being “on” when others are “off.” Can he take the crown this weekend if others are off?

There’s yet another competitive firestorm making its way to Vegas September 14th. The battle for the Classic Physique Division title is shaping up to be the most competitive since its inception. Last year’s champ, Breon Ansley, will have his hands full fighting off George Peterson, Chris Bumstead, Regan Grimes, Arash Rahbar, and more.

Two previously mentioned Canadian athletes are at the forefront of media attention: Regan Grimes and Chris Bumstead. These two have gone head to head before in the amateur ranks, but this will be their first meeting on the pro level. Both of these young men possess what you would call “throwback” physiques, but I think as the Olympia runner-up last year, “C-Bum” has to have an edge this year. That being said, Grimes looked phenomenal in New York earlier this season and it wouldn’t surprise me to see both bodybuilders from the Great White North on podium positions.

That isn’t where 2017 CPD Mr. Olympia second-place finisher Chris Bumstead will stop making headlines during Olympia Weekend, though. He and sister Melissa (figure) will again be on the same stage in Vegas, still as the only brother and sister tandem to grace bodybuilding’s greatest stage. Not only that, but brother-in-law Iain Valliere will join them (men’s open bodybuilding). Both Melissa and Iain have legitimate shots are cracking the top 10 in their respective divisions.

Speaking of family ties, three-time Mr. Olympia Sergio Oliva’s legend lives on at this year’s Olympia as his son, Sergio Oliva Jr., will be competing. This is the first time in history that a child of an Olympia winner has ever competed in the contest! Sergio qualified last year though he didn’t compete, but this year we hope to see “The Myth” return.

Two of the most prominent 212-pound division athletes will be moving on after this year’s Olympia. Reigning champion James “Flex” Lewis will be posing one last time as a 212er, but has left rumours unanswered about whether this means he will be moving up to the open class or is simply hanging up his trunks for good. Jose “The Boston Mass” Raymond has announced that this will be his last competition. After years of duking it out with Lewis, David Henry, Ahmad Ashkanani, and the rest of the 212-pound field, Raymond will pose on the fabled Olympia stage one last time—but make no mistake about it, he is still in it to win it. Coach Chris Aceto posted a picture of Jose just over two weeks out, and he looks to be bringing his trademark conditioning and fullness for one last swing at the 212-Olympia title.

Two Olympia champions have elected to forego the 2018 Mr. Olympia weekend. In the Women’s Physique division, Julianna Malacarne will be absent from competition, which leaves the door wide open for a new generation of athletes to make their claim to the throne. Natalia Coelho, Shanique Grant, Michaela Aycock, and many others all have valid chances to rise to the top of the division when all is said and done. In Fitness, the long-time untouchable routines of Oksana Grishina will be missed. Grishina has officially retired from competition. Whitney “WoJo” Jones may climb to the top of the ladder after a terrible knee injury sidelined her from competing for much of 2018. Quebec’s pocket-sized fitness competitor Myriam “Mimi” Capes might have something to say about that, as she has had great success in Las Vegas before, only to be held from taking home a title by Grishina last year. This will be the tenth time Capes hits the prestigious Olympia stage.

In Men’s Physique, Jeremy Buendia will try to retain his title as the division’s champion. Buendia suffered a pec tear after the Olympia last year, but has since seemed to regain his former size, density, and detail. What you see on social media doesn’t matter when it comes to the stage in Las Vegas though, so we’ll see if he was able to do the remarkable—suffer a gruesome injury, lose an appreciable amount of muscle mass, gain all of it back in time, and still bring beyond his former self’s A-game to win another title. If he’s not at 100 percent, it may be one of Andre Ferguson, Raymont Edmonds, or Brandon Hendrickson that upsets him and walk offstage with the trophy.

In the Ms. Bikini Olympia, former champion Ashley Kaltwasser has been on fire in the 2018 competitive season. Kaltwasser was known for her glute and ham development during her time as Olympia Champion previously, but current champ Angelica Teixeira shares those same strong points. It will be a dazzling display of beauty as these two plus so many others strut their stuff back and forth on the Vegas stage.

There’s much more to watch out for than physiques this weekend! Although you’ll want to stay up to date and informed on who takes home titles in Vegas, these storylines should provide you with a little more interest, especially as athletes take the stage for prejudging Friday night. It’s bound to be one of the most interesting and intriguing Olympias ever!