Wayne's Hard News: 2011 Olympia Report – Men & Women.
Held annually in Las Vegas, the superbly staged Olympia competition is divided up into six individual events, 2 for men and 4 for women. I will take a look at each class from my vantage point, backstage in the pump room following the prejudgings for both men and women, and at the Saturday Finals.
The top 10:
1. Phil Heath
2. Jay Cutler
3. Kai Greene
4. Victor Martinez
5. Dennis Wolf
6. Dexter Jackson
7. Toney Freeman
8. Brandon Curry
9. Ronny Rockel
10. Hidetada Yamagishi
Congratulations to our newly crowned Mr. Olympia, Phil Heath, who narrowly edged out the four-time champion Jay Cutler to take the title and $200,000. You could not call it a surprise or an upset victory, as the writing was on the wall last year at the Olympia that Phil was breathing down Jay's neck. It was extremely close last year. Jay was the two-time defending Olympia champion and had won four of the last five Olympias, with Dexter Jackson taking the title in 2008.
Jay Cutler has been the public face of the Mr. Olympia contest for the last five years, winning 15 Pro titles since 2000. Next year we will know if it is now the era of Phil "The Gift" Heath. Will Phil's victory usher in a new era in bodybuilding? Only time will tell.
This year I first saw Jay and Phil in the gym, fully clothed, on the Monday night before the Olympia. The facial signs were that Phil was leaner and tighter than last year. Jay also looked to be clearly in great shape from what little that I could tell. As soon as I saw Phil and Jay strip off to their posing trunks in the pump room at the Friday night's Prejudging, I felt that Phil appeared to have a slight edge. It became even clearer to me as I watched the judging on the backstage monitors that Phil Heath was definitely the best athlete on stage and the star of the whole event. The judges made the correct decision and Phil became the 13th champion to claim the title of Mr. Olympia.
When it was announced at the Saturday night Finals, Jay Cutler was extremely gracious in defeat. In fact it was the best speech I have ever heard from an outgoing champion and a credit to Jay's sportsmanship. He was a gentleman, a total professional and displayed a very real happiness for the victory by Phil, his long time close friend. In Phil's eloquent response he thanked all those that helped him and believed in him and said that if he could become half the champion Jay has been, he would be extremely fortunate. He also thanked Jay, his best friend, for his inspiration and support since the time they first met around 10 years ago. At that time Jay weighed 100 pounds more than Phil! As Jay and Phil said on stage, the student finally overtook the teacher!
Now a few comments on the other guys in the top 10.
3. Kai Greene.
His 3rd placing was his best so far in the Olympia, surpassing his 4th in 2009. He was much improved on last year with abs under much better control and overall very tight and hard. As only Kai can look - freaky! With a bit more conditioning watch for Kai to challenge for the #1 position.
4. Victor Martinez.
Victor was in very great condition, hard and lean - and compared with the top 3 guys, appeared to be a little smaller. His clean cut lines and symmetry were a real stand-out.
5. Dennis Wolf. Dennis looked great. Huge rear latspread, great arms, good overall condition and in my eyes I had him one above Victor. Dennis looked better than when he won our Aussie Grand Prix in March. He can improve and move up into the top 3 next year.
6. Dexter Jackson.
Dexter is Dexter, always consistently hard and never out of shape. Always presents a good overall package on stage but is now starting to show his age with that really hard edge of the past now slowly starting to fade.
7. Toney Freeman.
Toney was 5th in 2008, his best ever Olympia finish. This year he was very close to his 2008 best ever condition. His legs and X frame poses were fantastic and Toney is one who is hardly showing the effects of being in his 40s. A fantastic overall result for Tone, a much under-rated physique.
8. Brandon Curry.
This was the first time I had ever seen Brandon, as far as I can recall, and he was the top rookie in the Olympia this year. Making top 10 on debut is pretty impressive. He has a pleasing, hard and well conditioned physique and excelled in his abdominal poses. With more size and more time could make the top 5. Great symmetry and a very pleasing physique.
9. Ronny Rockel.
I was sad to see Ronny slip from his 6th placing of last year to 9th in 2011. With Branch Warren out of the Olympia I really felt that Ronny would push for a 4th or 5th placement this year. It was not to be. What was wrong with Ronny? He looked rock hard and always displays great symmetry. The bodypart that really sunk his aspirations was the mid-section. It looked bloated and distended much of the time and I do feel that Ronny needs to compete at a lower bodyweight and go for quality rather than mass. Greater aesthetics is what should now be his focus, not more size.
10. Hidetada Yamagishi.
On the other hand Hidetada seemed to be down in size this year. He is a quality physique and the best Asian in the world by a mile. His posing is always a joy to behold.
Two other rookies who really impressed me were Las Vegan Robert Burneika and Frank McGrath from Canada. Both show huge potential and with Robert, watch out for those massive arms and calves. Frank is also notable for his arms and delts. We shot a brilliant workout with Robert a few days before the Olympia.
Depending on your point of view and what you are looking for in a 202 Class competitor, this class was mildly controversial. Once again, Kevin English successfully defended his 202 showdown title, and he has now won this class three years in a row. With David Henry away on military service, he still had to content with 2 much improved stars in Flex Lewis of UK, now based in Tennessee, and Jose Raymond.
Jose won the best back pose and was a massive physique, within the weight limits of the class. On the other hand, Flex Lewis presents a totally different style and look to the massive bodies of English and Raymond. Flex is a special package and has a look and a style and symmetry that is all his own.
He has made great improvements over the last 12 to 18 months, and was in fact qualified both for the Mr. Olympia, as well as for the 202 Class. Flex has the best lines, the best legs and also poses superbly. What he lacks in overall mass is made up for with his overall balance and class. Kevin English is a mass monster with huge arms and a great overall physique. It was a huge disappointment both for Lewis, and also for his many fans when he had to settle for second place.
In 4th place it was Jaroslav Horvath from Slovakia in absolutely amazing shape, abs ripped and a very symmetrical overall physique. Next year it will be the 212 Class Showdown. The 202 Class is now officially dead.
Although Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia brought her most shredded condition ever to Las Vegas, it was still not enough to stop Iris Kyle successfully defending her Ms. Olympia crown. It was her fifth straight Ms. Olympia title and sixth Olympia victory overall. She is without doubt one of the all time legends of women's bodybuilding. Yaxeni appeared a little drawn, small, and maybe too lean, and had to settle for second place this year. Iris is big and ripped every year and is the most consistent woman on the circuit in any class.
In 3rd place was the amazing Slovenian rookie, Brigita Brezovac. In the 2007 NABBA Universe, Brigita finished runner up to winner Alina Popa. This time the positions were reversed, with Alina finishing in 5th place this year behind Debbie Laszewski in 4th. Brigita displayed amazing condition, good size and shape and the abdominals equal to if not the best in this class. Debbie looked great but not quite at her all-time best, and so had to settle for 4th.
In 5th place, Alina Popa displayed her great lines but was not sharp enough to trouble the 4 women above her. Alina has an amazing back, great thighs and superb arms. She is a future winner of this class if it stays in the Olympia!
The winner this time was Nicole Wilkins after a titanic battle with Erin Stern, who was last year’s winner of this class. Nicole presents a superb package of symmetry, style, class and condition. She is always extremely hard to beat. Erin is a star performer who exudes class, elegance and confidence and has everything that also makes her a great champion. This was her first Olympia title.
3rd place went to The Gaspari sponsored athlete Ava Cowan. She also looked incredible and I could see little difference between these top Figure women.
4th went to Candice Keene.
5th place was awarded to Teresa Anthony.
6h place went to Alicia Harris who placed 2nd in a Pro Figure event in Australia in March this year.
Adela Garcia proved once again to be unbeatable. She made it a three-peat, and won her fifth Fitness Olympia title in the last six years.
2nd it was Tanji Johnson who so often has had to settle for second to Adela. Both women perform amazing routines.
3rd went to Myriam Capes from Canada.
4th place, it was Tina Durkin.
5th place went to a most deserving Oksana Grishina from Russia, now based in LA. Oksana has been performing brilliant routines for some years and it was great to see her rewarded this time.
It was no surprise to me that Nicole Nagrani was the winner of this class, and in doing so, she took out last year's winner in Sonia Gonzales. Nicole moved up from 3rd last year to the winner's position with a near flawless body as required by the Bikini class criteria. Nathalia Mello from Brazil was 2nd again in what was a very close decision.
3rd went to Dianna Dahlgren, with Jaime Baird 4th, Sonia Gonzales dropping to 5th and with India Paulino in 6th place.
Click here to see the COMPLETE RESULTS FOR ALL CLASSES, listing every competitor.
My special thanks to the GMV Olympia team as follows:
Joel Barham and yours truly.
*This turned out to be Richard's last year on the GMV Olympia team. My sincere thanks for his enormous contribution to me and the team from 2000 to 2011.
On Olympia Sunday we shot video and photos at poolside with the following athletes, in no particular order, including 3 Olympia competitors.
Robert Burneika - USA
Frank McGrath - Canada
Darlene Escano - Australia
Marius Graatrud - Norway
Brian Smith - USA
Eli Blahut - USA
Teddy Marty - USA
Mario Klintworth - Germany
Kevin Schnittker - USA
Denis Sergovskiy - Russia
On Monday we shot all day in Gold's Gym, working on training videos, plus photos - with Denis Sergovskiy, Zak Pallikaros from UK, plus amazing training
footage with Eli and Teddy. It must have been close to my best Olympia ever! Especially if you judge it by the number of hours of video shot.