2010 ARNOLD CLASSIC PREVIEW: THE GREATEST GIFT?

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Expectations are running high for Phil Heath at the 2010 Arnold Classic

March 2, 2010

By Shawn Perine

FLEXONLINE.COM

In what may be the most competitive lineup in Arnold Classic history, one man arguably stands more to lose, and gain, than his 12 rivals — Phil Heath.

It's not that Heath's reputation or his standing in the bodybuilding community is any higher than that of peers like Dexter Jackson, Kai Greene or Branch Warren. The simple fact is, though, that the expectations placed upon Heath's shoulders are disproportionately high. Since turning pro at the 2005 USA Championships Heath has carried the mantle of heir to the throne with him at every competition he's entered and while he's won three pro shows (the 2006 Colorado Pro and New York Pro and 2008 Ironman Pro), he's yet to live up to the predictions of dominance so many have cast for him.

While there's no such thing as a "make or break" competition in bodybuilding, the 2010 Arnold Classic isn't too far off for a man dubbed "The Gift," for his enviable genetic heritage. This is now Heath's fifth season as a pro and this past December he joined the ranks of those on the far side of 30 — an unofficial dividing line between prodigy and stalwart.

In short, now is the time for Heath to establish himself as the No. 1 contender for the Mr. Olympia title, something Warren currently holds (based on his 2nd place finish at the '09 O), Greene owned last year (after a dominating win in Columbus) and 2008 Mr. Olympia Jackson has claimed on a number of occasions. Of course, a win this weekend, and moreover a convincing win, will go a long way towards putting him on notice as Jay Cutler's top adversary come this September at the Mr. Olympia in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"I'm feeling good, knock on wood," asserted Heath this past week. "I'm holding my weight better than I ever have before and have made some noticeable improvements to my delts and hamstrings."

He adds, "I've stayed pretty lean throughout the offseason so that I wouldn't have to come down too far for this show. So the prep has gone very smoothly. Barring any craziness like at the last Olympia (when he came down with a stomach virus that saw him drop weight in the worst way shortly before going onstage), I expect to be at my all-time best."

Can an all-time best Heath overcome an all-time best Warren, Jackson and Greene? That question won't be answered until this Saturday night, but one thing's for sure right now — the 2010 edition very well could go down as one of the most competitive Arnold Classics men's bodybuilding competitions of all-time.

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