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+{{+ Official 2020 MR OLYMPIA Thread , Dec. 17th - 20th +}}+

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A New Era Begins – The 2020 Olympia Weekend
By Christian Duque, June 12th, 2020




First and foremost, let me just say that the old Spanish saying, “no hay mal que por bien no venga,” (there’s no bad that won’t bring good) rings true. We’ve had a horrible 2020 as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. The coronavirus left gyms closed indefinitely, it resulted in the cancellation of the largest fitness expos in the world (i.e., The Arnold Sports Festival), and it was the direct result of countless contests being either cancelled or postponed. One of the biggest and most hyped contests of all, The Rock’s Athleticon in Atlanta, GA, was postponed to 2021.

With everything that was going on, with people forced to social distance, many being laid off or forced to work from home, the chances The Olympia would happen started looking bleak for many. I always knew the show would go on, especially after I interviewed my good friend, Chief Olympia Officer Dan Solomon. Dan is the type of guy, who if life gives him lemons, he’ll make lemonade. That’s the kind of guy you want at the helm, someone who isn’t going to complain and fold under pressure, but really shine. I was also confident the Olympia Weekend would in fact happen because the contest changed hands. Nothing against David Pecker and AMI, but that’s a huge company, where bodybuilding is just one of many assets. Fitness was also not a key moneymaker for them, either, it was just one of many. When Wings of Strength mogul Jake Wood bought the event, I knew the Olympia would happen. With that said, there’s a big difference between it simply happening – and – it truly being a new era.

There’s a lot of pieces at play here. For starters, when Dan Solomon sold Digital Muscle to Jake, that was the first step in my opinion. DM is unlike any other website in the fitness industry. If I had to compare it to any other, I’d be inclined to say Generation Iron, but that’s not entirely accurate, either. Digital Muscle is a bodybuilding hub and Dan realized his vision by recruiting some of the biggest names from the print era, to collaborate with him, digitally. The page has always put out cutting-edge content without falling prey to a lot of the industry pettiness and squabbles. Solomon has always looked beyond that. He’s not interested in the he-said/she-said because it’s a never-ending war. There are plenty of sites who have hung their hat on gossip, fake news, and fueling the rumor mill. While they get hits and they can sell advertising, at the end of the day, they’re not really building anything. They’re paying the bills, but they’re not growing the sport. Between his role with Digital Muscle and the major motion film, Bigger, Dan put himself on the map. Once Jake bought DM, IFBB Hall of Famer “Sugar” Shawn Ray was put at the helm. Dan moved on, reaching a pinnacle in his career, as Chief Olympia Officer. Less than a year later, Digital Muscle has continued upping its game, and now, Jake owns the biggest bodybuilding contest on Earth.

It’s all about building, making moves, and growing the sport. The new graphics are fire. You can tell that a lot of time was invested – from the conceptualization to the execution. They picked great photos, they worked on the wording, and now these images will create a level of hype that will fuel us for the next six months. To see 7x 212 Olympia Showdown Champion James “Flex” Lewis (aka The Welsh Dragon) on stage against 2019 Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry, that’s got blockbuster written all over it. The fans want to see 2018 People’s Champion Roelly Winklaar back!! They want to see the return of Hadi Choopan.

The thing is, each division has a roster of real superstars, but bodybuilding reigns supreme – as it should! What I love most about the new direction, is the fact that everyone who’s involved loves bodybuilding. This isn ‘t just another way to make a buck and the fans are thought of at every turn.

The fact the new venue is at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip is huge!! The Zappos Theatre is a new, updated, and state of the art venue. The host hotel has been totally renovated, the rooms are beautiful, affordable, and contest-goers have a million things to do, just walking out of the hotel lobby. Nothing against the old venue, but when the Olympia left the Mandalay Bay for The Orleans, I highly doubt that that move was one that was made with the fans or competitors in mind. Nonetheless, the old venue gave the sport some great memories. The fact there’s a new era, doesn’t mean the old wasn’t great, but we sure can use a change, as well.

One other, big plus for the 2020 event is the return of Women’s Bodybuilding and from a recent episode of Digital Muscle, it seems that 10x Ms. Olympia Iris Kyle may be returning. How huge is that?!? Jake Wood is directly responsible for the renaissance of muscular women and women’s bodybuilding through his Wings of Strength empire, but Iris has been the one superstar notably absent from the Rising Phoenix events and the World Championships. The fact there’s any possibility she’d return to the Ms. Olympia stage is unreal. At 150lbs ripped and symmetrical, Kyle would be very hard to beat. In fact, the only woman who ever did beat her, was 2005 Ms. Olympia Yaxeni Oriquen. Yaxeni is also expected to compete. Much like Men’s Bodybuilding, the Women’s Bodybuilding stage will have so many different things going on – from its return, to the showdown between generations, to which ladies will make that Top 6 and posedown for the world!!

212 Bodybuilding is another nail-biter, with a new champion in Kamal El Gargani, the expected return of The Boston Mass, Jose Raymond, the undeniable ascent of The Giant Killer Shaun Clarida, and a whole roster of veteran competitors, giving 110% to win the title than Flex Lewis held for seven consecutive years. You also have the heir apparent from 2019, Derek Lunsford, very much ready to vindicate himself after 2019.

As December 17th-20th approaches, I know I’ll be getting more and more excited!! I have already booked my hotel reservations and soon will book my airline tickets. I hope to see you there!! Who do you have winning?
 
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Olympia Dark Horse: Has Everyone Already Forgotten About Flex Lewis?
By Matt Weik, June 14th, 2020




2020 has been one of the most #%$*&@ up years any of us has experienced. If there was a box of bad event dominoes, 2020 would be pushing the first one over and causing the snowball effect we’ve experienced thus far (hopefully we are done for the year). That being said, everything that has been going on has crushed the bodybuilding industry as competitors aren’t able to hit the gym nor are shows allowed to take place due to the inability to have large gatherings.

Many are hopeful that shows are going to start rolling back into full swing, but currently, they are left without a paycheck in their hands and uncertainty as to when their next show will be. That is unless you’re Flex Lewis. If you were to look at Flex Lewis and what’s in his hands, you’d find an Olympia invite.


Why Is No One Talking About Flex Lewis?
It’s interesting to me that fans and media are talking about everyone other than Flex Lewis. Talks of if Kai Greene is going to come back. Mentions of Phil Heath hinting at coming back to win his eighth. Questions of whether or not Shawn Rhoden will be able to grace the stage once again depending on his pending trial. And doubters who think Brandon Curry was a one and done Olympia winner.

Flex Lewis has nothing to prove. He’s a seven-time Mr. Olympia 212 winner and arguably the greatest 212 competitor to ever walk on a bodybuilding stage. With the announcement that he was going to retire from the 212-division and move up to men’s open, many wondered if he would be able to put on enough size to stand next to the likes of Phil Heath, Big Ramy, Roelly Winklaar, and the reigning champion, Brandon Curry.

We’ve never seen a side-by-side comparison of Flex Lewis next to any of those guys. Heck, we haven’t even seen him stand next to guys who didn’t even make it into the top 10. So, the question remains if he has a physique that can crack the top 10 or even make his way into the top five?

Maybe the lack of excitement for Flex has to do with when it comes to the men’s open, we aren’t used to seeing his name. But I will say this… people better be prepared come the 2020 Olympia in Vegas at the end of the year. Flex was given a special invitation very early on which allows him more than enough time to prepare his best physique to date.


Flex WILL Be Ready
I don’t have any insider information nor am I personally friends with Flex Lewis (the guy probably doesn’t even have a clue who I am), but I believe Flex will be ready in December to shock bodybuilding fans across the globe. I think Flex is using his time flying below the radar to put all of his focus into his prep, without all of the distractions. In fact, no one talking about Flex has probably taken a lot of the stress and pressure off of him and therefore he can have fun with his training and simply put his head down and get to work without people breathing down his neck and wanting to see what he looks like throughout the year.

Even during the lock down and stay-at-home order, Flex has the ability to train at his gym (Dragon’s Lair Gym in Boca Raton, FL). He owns and operates it and just because others aren’t able to train there during the lockdown doesn’t mean he can’t – and I think he’s been if I were a betting man.

I’m sure he hasn’t been missing his meals or supplements and is somewhat still on cruise control during his prep. Being that most things are closed, I’d bet he’s getting some good rest and recovery which can only help improve his physique as well.



There’s Strength in Silence
One thing I’ve taken notice of is that Flex Lewis has not been very active on social media when it comes to his workouts or showing off his progress. In my opinion, this is smart. I also believe this is at the direction of the Olympia promoters as they do not want anyone to see what Flex looks like until he walks out onto the Olympia stage.

It’s been quite some time since we last saw Flex Lewis on a bodybuilding stage. One thing that concerns me is that due to the fact that he needs to put on a ton of size to get ready for men’s open, while he knew his body well when in 212, will he be able to nail his conditioning after taking so much time off and not knowing how his body will respond to the new size he has added. I can only assume that he will start his diet a few weeks earlier than normal to give him enough time to make the necessary changes should things not go as planned leading up to the show.

But being that Flex Lewis is lying low and not in the spotlight should have Flex smiling – it makes him the forgotten competitor. THE UNDERDOG. Personally, I’m not ruling out that Flex could land within the top five at the 2020 Mr. Olympia competition. I actually think it would be pretty cool to see him come back and win the whole thing.

With that being said, I need to slow my roll. We still don’t know who all will be stepping on that stage in December. Right now, Brandon Curry is looking pretty dang good. We haven’t seen some of the other guys like William Bonac, Dexter Jackson, Hadi Choopan, Big Ramy, or Roelly Winklaar. And how can we forget about the lack of commitment from Phil Heath and Kai Greene?

If you were to add Phil back into the fold, I think it’s game over. I think Phil will win his eighth Olympia title. Should Phil come back and not regain his title, I think his competitive career is over and he’ll retire.

That said, how many years will Flex Lewis compete in men’s open? Who knows? But I, for one, can’t wait to see the package he brings to the stage at this year’s Mr. Olympia.
 

Harley00

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Guys just keep getting bigger and bigger each year, dam those shoulders ..... huge
 
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WILL SHAWN RHODEN COMPETE AT THE 2020 OLYMPIA?
By Christian Duque, July 13th, 2020




This has got to be one of the biggest what-if type questions out there, largely, because the outcome is beyond speculative. Rhoden has been a fan favorite all over the world since 2016 when he took a controversial runner-up to Phil “The Gift” Heath. This is for a couple pressing reasons.

For starters, sports get boring whenever there’s a team or player that wins everything. People love competition, they like the suspense, and it’s that contentious climate that creates some of the best debates on the message boards, in between sets at the gym, and of course in the audiences of some of the biggest contests. Fans like close, tough battles, where pundits and handicappers can break down each pose, speaking to the strengths and weaknesses of each competitor. Whenever you have complete dominance, however, it can get boring. Phil Heath wasn’t the dominant force he was marketed to be, but held on for seven years. There were years Kai was so close, a strong case could have been made for him. In 2016, Rhoden pushed the champ hard. Then there were other years, like 2017, where The Gift was the legitimate victor. All in all, however, fans were growing tired of Phil’s blocking critics, feuding with social media stars like Luimarco, and taking great exception at any competitor who openly challenged his reign.

The fans liked Shawn because he didn’t back down. They also liked Shawn because he wasn’t considered to be the guy to be the next champion. If we were to go by marketing, it would have been Kai or Ramy, maybe even James “Flex” Lewis coming up from the 212, but not Rhoden, never Rhoden. You have to realize, I took A LOT of abuse on the message boards because I was one of the few who constantly predicted Shawn would go all the way. Everybody laughed at me and everyone said that was the longshot of the century. Flexatron was a real longshot – then and, interestingly, now.

The fact is 2017 was a tough year for Rhoden. He was sidelined because of a jaw injury that literally prevented him from eating. There was such a build-up after 2016 and his then sponsor, Pro Supps, was pushing hard for him. If you were active on the bodybuilding websites, you couldn’t help but noticing the very strong push behind the 2016 Olympia runner-up. Rhoden was taking the Olympia so seriously for 2017 that he skipped the Arnold Classic. That could have been an easy pay day for him, especially given the fact that was one of the weakest lineups in ages. No disrespect to Cedric or Dallas, but Rhoden would have cleaned house, fresh off of taking 2nd at the Olympia. Still, everything was going into the 2017 rematch. When he didn’t win, didn’t take second, and took a tough, but respectable, placing, he lost his main sponsor and once again, people wrote him off.

Some guys are the people’s champions. Other guys are the blue collar workers of the sport. Some guys, like Rhoden, are the underdogs. They’re overlooked by the press, largely overlooked by the fans, and sometimes lose big money because even their own sponsors don’t see what they see. I’ll still say, how colossally dumb would a supplement company CEO feel like, if the guy they dropped the year before, went on to win the biggest title in bodybuilding the year after.

Some guys lose their biggest sponsor and fall to pieces, but the real fighters, the real champions, they’re un-phased. They know what needs to be done and they do it. Shawn fought so hard in 2018, I can still remember watching the videos where he was literally assisted to walk. That’s some Rocky Balboa shit right there, tenth round, holding onto the top rope and beckoning Apollo Creed to come back for one more go at it. Phil was definitely not Apollo, but Apollo would be the industry, the naysayers, the critics and of course the haters. When Shawn won in 2018, he shut everybody up.

Now we have an understanding of what he’s facing legally and while I would never speak as to guilt or innocence, I will say that I hope the process is carried out, that Shawn’s rights are respected, and that his legal team be able to ensure he receives a fair trial. With that said, there may or may not be a trial. In the event Shawn is acquitted or the case is disposed of, I believe he’s owed the right to compete and I do believe that’s always been the plan. If and when the charges are dropped or the case is won, then everyone on the planet yearns for the day Shawn hits the stage. Whether or not he can beat Brandon Curry, Flex Lewis, or any other competitor really isn’t the point. The fans simply want to see their 2018 champion back up there.


To those who argue that had he never had to leave the sport, that he would have won in 2019, all I can say is that that’s mere speculation. I’m not one to speak in hypotheticals; I’m not one to compare photos of competitors from different eras and pontificate over what the results would have been on in some kind of bodybuilding celebrity matchup. I leave that nail-biting content for the YouTube stars and wannabe influencers.

I, personally, don’t think we’ll see Shawn on stage – any stage – competing in 2020, simply because I can’t imagine his case will have concluded by that point. Most of the courts are backed up as a result of Covid19 and while many are using innovative features like Zoom for select hearing and motions, I would think that given the gravity of the charges, that Rhoden’s legal team would opt to do things in-person and all in their due time. This is not the kind of trial that either side would want to speed through. At least that’s my opinion.

That being said, we all see Shawn training and packing on muscle like someone who is planning to compete. There’s really no reason that any competitor would hit it that hard in the gym, eat that strictly, and post so many updates, simply for hits. That’s never been Rhoden’s style and I can’t imagine it is now. That’s something a new name in social media would do, someone looking to get Instafamous and/or drum up some noise for their YouTube channel. The bottom line is, Rhoden wants it, he’s fighting in the trenches, and he’s not going to put himself through the emotional rollercoaster of leading his fans on, just for shits and giggles. He’s not that guy – in fact I don’t know anyone who is.

Ok, so sure, Kai Greene has been known to tease the fans over the years. Maybe he’ll imply something, laugh at a certain time, maybe he’ll be subtle and maybe not so subtle, but that might be a sound bite or two. Rhoden has been looking and sounding like someone who’s on prep for the biggest contest of their life. One things is marketing and another is living the life of a competitor. Maybe Rhoden is taking a page from the Kai Greene manual or maybe living the life is the closest thing to feeling like an active competitor. Maybe this is more than a labor of love, maybe this is all that’s keeping Rhoden grounded.

Again, I won’t speak to guilt or innocence, but what I will say is this. Imagine IF you were totally innocent, but you had serious charges over your head. You’re innocent until proven guilty in terms of your personal freedom; however, you can no longer compete, you see all your sponsors leave you, and you even a lose a lot of fans in the process. You’re basically a spectator. You can’t defend yourself, you can’t do anything, hell, you can’t even say anything. Maybe training for a show, even if you know deep down you probably won’t be able to compete, is all you can do. Maybe Shawn’s whole prep rests on whatever bleak light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. Maybe his whole prep is fueled by hope?

Do you think Shawn will compete at the 2020 Olympia?
 

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Olympia Dark Horse: Has Everyone Already Forgotten About Flex Lewis?
By Matt Weik, June 14th, 2020




2020 has been one of the most #%$*&@ up years any of us has experienced. If there was a box of bad event dominoes, 2020 would be pushing the first one over and causing the snowball effect we’ve experienced thus far (hopefully we are done for the year). That being said, everything that has been going on has crushed the bodybuilding industry as competitors aren’t able to hit the gym nor are shows allowed to take place due to the inability to have large gatherings.

Many are hopeful that shows are going to start rolling back into full swing, but currently, they are left without a paycheck in their hands and uncertainty as to when their next show will be. That is unless you’re Flex Lewis. If you were to look at Flex Lewis and what’s in his hands, you’d find an Olympia invite.


Why Is No One Talking About Flex Lewis?
It’s interesting to me that fans and media are talking about everyone other than Flex Lewis. Talks of if Kai Greene is going to come back. Mentions of Phil Heath hinting at coming back to win his eighth. Questions of whether or not Shawn Rhoden will be able to grace the stage once again depending on his pending trial. And doubters who think Brandon Curry was a one and done Olympia winner.

Flex Lewis has nothing to prove. He’s a seven-time Mr. Olympia 212 winner and arguably the greatest 212 competitor to ever walk on a bodybuilding stage. With the announcement that he was going to retire from the 212-division and move up to men’s open, many wondered if he would be able to put on enough size to stand next to the likes of Phil Heath, Big Ramy, Roelly Winklaar, and the reigning champion, Brandon Curry.

We’ve never seen a side-by-side comparison of Flex Lewis next to any of those guys. Heck, we haven’t even seen him stand next to guys who didn’t even make it into the top 10. So, the question remains if he has a physique that can crack the top 10 or even make his way into the top five?

Maybe the lack of excitement for Flex has to do with when it comes to the men’s open, we aren’t used to seeing his name. But I will say this… people better be prepared come the 2020 Olympia in Vegas at the end of the year. Flex was given a special invitation very early on which allows him more than enough time to prepare his best physique to date.


Flex WILL Be Ready
I don’t have any insider information nor am I personally friends with Flex Lewis (the guy probably doesn’t even have a clue who I am), but I believe Flex will be ready in December to shock bodybuilding fans across the globe. I think Flex is using his time flying below the radar to put all of his focus into his prep, without all of the distractions. In fact, no one talking about Flex has probably taken a lot of the stress and pressure off of him and therefore he can have fun with his training and simply put his head down and get to work without people breathing down his neck and wanting to see what he looks like throughout the year.

Even during the lock down and stay-at-home order, Flex has the ability to train at his gym (Dragon’s Lair Gym in Boca Raton, FL). He owns and operates it and just because others aren’t able to train there during the lockdown doesn’t mean he can’t – and I think he’s been if I were a betting man.

I’m sure he hasn’t been missing his meals or supplements and is somewhat still on cruise control during his prep. Being that most things are closed, I’d bet he’s getting some good rest and recovery which can only help improve his physique as well.



There’s Strength in Silence
One thing I’ve taken notice of is that Flex Lewis has not been very active on social media when it comes to his workouts or showing off his progress. In my opinion, this is smart. I also believe this is at the direction of the Olympia promoters as they do not want anyone to see what Flex looks like until he walks out onto the Olympia stage.

It’s been quite some time since we last saw Flex Lewis on a bodybuilding stage. One thing that concerns me is that due to the fact that he needs to put on a ton of size to get ready for men’s open, while he knew his body well when in 212, will he be able to nail his conditioning after taking so much time off and not knowing how his body will respond to the new size he has added. I can only assume that he will start his diet a few weeks earlier than normal to give him enough time to make the necessary changes should things not go as planned leading up to the show.

But being that Flex Lewis is lying low and not in the spotlight should have Flex smiling – it makes him the forgotten competitor. THE UNDERDOG. Personally, I’m not ruling out that Flex could land within the top five at the 2020 Mr. Olympia competition. I actually think it would be pretty cool to see him come back and win the whole thing.
 

NOVITEC

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Flex's shoulders and back...damn!!! Thats fire👌👌
 
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