Wednesday, September 26, 2012:
It’s the 7:00 pm and I am at the Mr. Olympia athlete meeting and it is everyone’s first look at the competitors. Over the years, I’ve always tried to assess everyone through their facial expressions, movements, mannerisms, moods and by seeing what type of conditioning they appear to be in even when covered in sweat suits. Here’s my take of what I saw from several of the primary athletes at tonight’s meeting:
BRANCH WARREN: Competitor # 1 – you can tell right off the bat he is in shape – his face is very drawn and he has a definite hardness/graininess to the skin. He was one of the only athletes in the meeting not wearing a sweat suit – he had on a button down shirt and pants – he does look very big and full, yet still in shape.
TONY FREEMAN: Competitor # 3 – stayed very covered up – but I have seen him more drawn facially and I have also seen him appear larger at this point in time at past competitor meetings. He’s a toss-up right now.
BEN PAKULSKI: Competitor #4 – he’s hard to nail down as his body changes very quickly. Looking at him you would think he is 85%, but from working with him at the 2012 Arnold, I know his physique can change drastically in the next 48 hours. He’s got good fullness and could be in a good spot for being 2 days out of the show.
EVAN CENTOPANI: Competitor #7 – he was one of only a few guys brave enough to wear shorts to the competitor meeting. This tells me immediately that he is extremely confident in his conditioning. Evan looked big compared to everyone, but also looked hard – so he is definitely one standing out to me as being in a very good position at this point.
DEXTER JACKSON: Competitor #9 – I have definitely seen him more drawn facially, but he still appears to be in pretty good shape, even though he was covered up. If I had to make a guess I would put him at about 90% at this point in time – which will make for a very good Dexter as long as everything stays on point.
SHAWN RHODEN: Competitor #12 – Doesn’t stand out with regard to size compared to some of the others, but his structure is also superior to many of the others. It will just be interesting to see how he matches up on stage. He appears to be in shape with regard to the leanness of his face and from what I could see of his physique – yet he, too, was pretty covered up.
DENNIS WOLF: Competitor #14 – FREAKY BIG and definitely stood out as the biggest guy in the room – but he is more than just BIG – you can tell his overall size and thickness are markedly improved everywhere – you can also tell he is in shape. His face is drawn, hard and he has a definite thinness and graininess to the skin – it will be exciting to see what he brings to the stage.
KAI GREENE: Competitor #17 – Definitely the trickiest one to figure out as he stays incredibly covered up – looks to have at least 2 sweatshirts on, with hood pulled over his head so all you can see is his face. His face is not drawn, but he’s never had a drawn face when in shape. Looking at his size, he appears huge – almost too full. The question is, is this an illusion or not and if he is too full, can he clean it up? My gut tells me he is in striking distance, but yet still has his work cut out for him.
PHIL HEATH: Competitor #19 – Looks simply ridiculous! Round, extremely full, and in shape. When he walked up to turn in his music – I watched him take his hand and run his fingers down his hamstring – you could see his fingers just sink into the deep separation. He actually looks bigger than last year and it looks like he is executing his game plan perfectly and seems to be on target to once again, shock us this year.
Of course, with these guys covered up, it’s hard to say exactly what they look like and with still another 48 hours before the show there are many things (good or bad) that can happen in that time, but it looks like the key guys are in striking distance at this point.