With the Mr Olympia competition taking place in under 6 weeks I thought it would be nice to take a look back at some of my favourite Olympia moments. These may not always be the winning routines, instead my pick of the best. It might be an inspiration posing routine, rock hard conditioning or a classic shape that did not win but was a standout.
The history of the Olympia is known for its controversy. The 1980 Olympia, Ronnie Coleman’s later titles and Franko Columbu’s 2nd title are all up for debate. Here we will delve deep in the Weider vaults and find some body builders you may not know, but are integral to Olympia history.
Frank Zane 83
Ok Lets start with a classic, three time Mr Olympia Frank Zane. One of only two men to beat Schwarzenegger as a pro, some say he has the greatest physique of all time. Symmetry, balance, condition and presentation, he competed at under 90 kg (unheard of in these mutant times). This routine takes place in Germany when the Olympia used to travel to a different city each year. He did not win this contest (the title went to Samir Bannout) but in my mind its one of Zane’s best performances. It begins with a David style silhouette, a master of posing his shape is recognisable the second the curtain comes up. His choice of music is spot on(Pink Floyds, One of these days) slowly building he hits poses to synth stabs until the main riff comes in. Each pose is different and elegant, a far cry from the lazy routines of today. Every pose shows off his great lines and superb condition. Plus stomach vacuum to finish. Epic.
Dorian Yates 1993
The reining Mr Olympia, he came out of nowhere and changed body building forever. Narrowly missing out on the 1991 title (Haney was shaking in his boots) Yates brought a new level of size and conditioning to the stage never seen before. Using Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer’s High intensity methods he managed to train less and put on more muscle than his competitors at an alarming rate. Once he had the title everyone else was playing catch up. I have chosen the 1993 Olympia due to the change in his physique in one year. When he stepped out on stage the audience where shocked at the improvements he had made on an already Olympian frame. Here Yates is at his best, drier bigger and more ripped than any other. His rigid block like poses match his bone dry condition. His back and calves are ridiculous, check out the lat spread. Also make note of the the detail in a back that size, Ronnie Coleman never had that level of separation in the mid back despite having massive wings.
Lee Labrada 1989
Labrada never won an Olympia, he caught the tail end of Haney’s rein and the start of Yates’s dominance, a tough time in bodybuilding. Despite this he had a fantastic shape, proportions and most of all was a fantastic poser. In this video I lost count of the number of different poses he hits. No two are the same and the grace and finesse of his transitions is beautiful. Something a bloated Ronnie or Jay would not be able to achieve, they would just come on stage wearing a crown and hit a lat spread. Labrada believed a balance of size, symmetry and conditioning were the Olympian ideals. He also had a cracking moustache.
Ronnie Coleman 1998
After Yates had retired having torn his biceps, and triceps, the Olympia was thrown wide open, who would be the next Sandow winner? Ronnie Coleman seemed like a long shot having finished in 9th place the year before, his meteoric rise was unexpected. But that year he had won the Night Of the Champions so things were looking good coming in this competition. Perhaps the growth hormone had started to kick in? I have never liked Coleman’s physique, his posing is shit and the crappy music he poses too is uninspiring and lacks impact. That said when he turns around, despite having bitch tits and looking a little smooth (Lee Priest
conditioning is nuts this year) you cannot help but be impressed.
Bob Paris 1988
Another victim of the 80’s/90’s Haney/ Yates years, Paris has one of the most balanced physiques in the history of the competition. Also a pupil of the mass with class school of thought he was an artistic poser, had great muscularity and was a good looking guy (listen to the screams from the women in the audience) something very rarely seen in bodybuilding. His routines where like pieces of performing art. Its always good to see the archer pose being pulled out the bag. One of the first openly gay bodybuilders he was a pioneer. He was also out spoken about the damage steroids was doing (still is) to the sport.
A great role model.
Gunter Schlierkamp 2002
In 2002 Coleman was the unbeaten Champ for the last 3 years. It is unheard of for a Mr Olympia to be beaten in any shows when they hold the O. But in the 2002 Show of Champions, the show running up the Olympia, Colemen was beaten by the massive german. If you check out he comparisons in the posedown side by side I think Gunter has it. To the crowds dismay he gets 5th place. After much booing he takes to the mic, something reserved from the winner and addresses his fans. With the preconceptions surrounding the sport of body building Gunter would have made a great Champ and maybe pushed some boundaries with his good looks and charm, more than a freakishly mutated Coleman could every do. Gunter has star quality and is a bloody nice chap.
Ok thats the first part of my alternative Mr olympia history done. More muscle, pose downs and controversy to come, stay tuned.
Clugston (future Olympian)