2019 Olympia Report by Wayne Gallasch
The 2019 Olympia is now history and there were many surprises over the weekend, mainly involving the crowning of new champions in a number of divisions.
I have put together a gallery of photos of the Pros from the photos of David Michael, Darren Burns, Gary Phillips, Jason Breeze and a few of my own from the Pump Room.
Due to the removal from the field of last year’s winner Shawn Rhoden, a new champion would be crowned this year. I expected Brandon Curry to win if he reproduced his winning form from the Arnold, and that is how it worked out. Brandon Curry was crowned the popular new Mr Olympia. William Bonac was good but not as sharp and crisp as I have seen him before, and so he came in second again, the same as in Columbus in March.
Sensational new guy from Iran, Hadi Choopan was a most impressive 3rd place finisher with many experts predicting him as a future winner. As far as I know this was easily Hadi’s biggest ever contest and I am sure it was his first appearance in USA.
The very consistent Dexter Jackson in his 20th Olympia took out 4th place, with the mildly disappointing Roelly Winklaar filling 5th place. Roelly looked very lean in the face and was huge but did not quite have the polish and the condition to place higher this time.
Dexter Jackson, a previous Mr Olympia winner was quoted as saying – “This was my 20th Olympia, and I have to say this year was just as amazing as my very first Olympia. The production and the stage was crazy! Shout out to Dan and the entire crew for doing such an amazing job this year. It was a memorable experience for us all.”
The 212 Olympia would also see a new champion, following the retirement of 7 time winner Flex Lewis from 212 competition. As a result, Kamal Elgargni would sweep the field aside to most convincingly win the title. He did say he would defend his title next year.
I felt that Kamal’s victory was the most sensational of any of the other class winners. At the age of 48 (next month) Kamal won with the sheer class of his physique, with a perfect balance of size, great condition, symmetry and outstanding abs. His posing was top class, and he acted like a winner from start to finish.
The 212 title remains as a “UK based title” after 7 years with Welshman Flex Lewis, and Kamal who is from Libya, and has lived for the past 22 years in England. I have been a close friend of Kamal during these 22 years, as you might guess from all of the photos of him in my gallery!
Derek Lunsford from USA was second and although wider and more massive looking than Kamal, he did not have the condition to beat Kamal this time. In 3rd place it was the beautifully symmetrical physique of Shaun Clarida.
As usual, the Classic Physique class ended up being one of the most tightly contested divisions of the whole Olympia. Previous two-time winner Breon Ansley looked all set to take out a third title. However, Canadian Chris Bumstead would end up taking the title in what some felt was a rather controversial decision. I looked at it this way – both men were outstanding. Bumstead was taller and seemed bigger and so it was a good big man beating a very good smaller man. George Peterson took out 3rd place.
In the Men’s Physique Division, I expected that defending champion Brandon Hendrickson would repeat as the Men’s Physique Olympia champion for 2019. Instead it was a new champion in Raymont Edmonds who would prove to be the number one men’s physique on the day.
The current Arnold Classic Men’s Physique champion Andre (best abs in the world) Ferguson had to settle for second place with Kyron Holden 3rd and Brandon Hendrickson in 4th place. It was UK’s Ryan Terry in 5th position.
In the Pro Wheelchair Division, I have seen and taped many of these contests in recent years. I am yet to see Harold Kelley beaten! He is such a class act and an absolute legend. What he has achieved with his physique and his condition is truly amazing.
Now a few words on the 4 Women’s winners. The Fitness Olympia is probably the best female division combining physique with performance. Whitney Jones was the winner for the second year in a row. Missy Truscott was second with Arnold Fitness champion Ryall Graber in 3rd place.
In the Bikini Olympia, Elisa Pecini from Brazil took out the title from Arnold Champion Janet Layug with defending champion Angelica Teixeira in 3rd place. It is my opinion that with a little more size, Angelica would make an outstanding Figure competitor. However I am not sure that she is thinking down that path.
The Women’s Physique Olympia was a very tough class with a number of top contenders. In the end it was hot favourite Shanique Grant who would take home the $40,000 prize, winning this event for a second time. I feel she could go on winning this class for some years. She reminds me of the type of genetics that Lenda Murray used to bring to the Olympia. Shanique was simply awesome. Sarah Villegas and Natalia Abraham Coelho took out 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Last but not least the Figure Olympia. Two times defending champion Cydney Gillon was a hot favourite with former champion Latorya Watts making a comeback. At the end of the day Cydney was still the champion with an extremely lean Latorya coming in second. Third place was filled by Nadia Wyatt, a star of the future.
Under the new management team led by Dan Solomon and Tamer El-Guindy, plus Director Martin Carrillo, the 2019 Olympia was a huge success, complete with a sold out Arena on the Saturday night. The staging at the Arena was the best ever and a lot of time and effort went into this upgrade for 2019.
A tribute to former Mr Olympia 2 time champion Franco Columbu was shown on the big screens on the Saturday night. Franco sadly passed away a few weeks ago.
The Olympia Press Conference at the Orleans Arena had its biggest attendance ever. Crowds at the Expo were also massive.
The Oksana Grishina’s OG Pole Fitness event was an outstanding success, held on the Expo stage.
You can always spot some celebrities at the event and for the men this year I saw the massively tall figure of Shaquille O’Neil, plus Mario Lopez, Mark Wahlberg, Tito Ortiz, Josh Brolin etc.
At the Expo stage on Saturday, there was an event called “Legends & Champions: The Road From Ms. Olympia To The Rising Phoenix”. Wings of Strength presented on stage a number of former Ms. Olympia winners, and gave them awards to commemorate their contribution to the sport.
The former Ms. Olympia champions included Lenda Murray, Carla Dunlap, Kike Elomaa, Andrulla Blanchette, Yaxeni Oriquen and 10 time Ms Olympia Iris Kyle.
Also on the Expo stage was Oksana Grishina’s OG Pole Fitness. It was an international pro event with athletes competing from around the world. The standard was outstanding and the winner was Rafaela Montanaro from Brazil.
BREAKING NEWS: The Ms. Olympia contest is returning in 2020! The welcome return of the Women’s Open division of bodybuilding was the big news announcement over the weekend! It came as no surprise to me. I wonder if Iris Kyle will try for #11. I would not be surprised!
The long-time Olympia MC Bob Cicherillo did his usual outstanding job in building up the excitement and holding the show together and helping it to run smoothly. Bob is also MC at the Convention Centre Expo stage for the Pro prejudging classes.
The 2 day Amateur Olympia was even bigger than ever with around 700 competitors (including crossovers) gracing the stage in the Orleans Showroom. It was an outstanding success, providing many new professionals for the future. This was the 3rd year of the Amateur Olympia and again GMV provided the camerawork. Video files by class are available to all of the competitors.
I will do a separate Amateur Olympia report shortly. Amateur Olympia RESULTS
My new GMV camera team member Dave Wellings had Sunday photo shoots with Maureen Blanquisco and Marcia Goncalves. Both were top 10 in the Bikini Olympia. Phil Carman was my other cameraman and he did his usual excellent work for the team. My thanks to both of them.