Favorites aside, who will crack the Arnold's final six?
March 1, 2010
By Greg Merritt
It's March Madness time, and like the NCAA basketball tournament, the Arnold is not all about the victory. It's also about who comes close and who outperforms to rise up in the rankings. The Arnold's presumptive top four is set (alphabetically): Kai Greene, Phil Heath, Dexter Jackson, Branch Warren. But there's two more in the final six, those who make the posedown, take home the big checks and qualify for the Olympia.
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Of the other nine, Toney Freeman and Melvin Anthony Jr. have the best shots of not just making the posedown but besting one or more of the favorites. It always depends on whether T-Free is full or flat, but at his fullest the X-man's 6'1" X-frame could distinguish him amongst the shorter and narrower favorites. At over 280 pounds, he's never looked fuller than he did at the 2010 IFBB Phoenix Pro (where he placed third), and if he can dry out and bring the crispness too, watch out above.
While Freeman was living large in Arizona, Melvin Anthony, Jr. had never been more peeled. His hams were like vertical blinds and his quads were feathered with horizontal etchings. Coming off his victory in Phoenix, The Marvelous One wants to not just make the posedown in Columbus but shuffle the deck and contend for a top four spot.
Whew! that potential posedown is looking crowded and stacked. Still, two short men have a shot at breaking in. Ronny Rockel is coming off a stunning seventh at last year's Olympia, so top six in the Arnold is certainly within the symmetrical German's grasp. Second at the Phoenix Pro, Hidetada Yamagishi continues to fill out and is consistently diced. He's been runner-up in three pro shows over the past year. Could this be the "major" where Hide makes his mark?
The remaining five, Tarek Elsetouhi, Johnnie Jackson, Robert Piotrkowicz, Sergey Shelestov and Roelly Winklaar are posedown improbables, but, with eight bodybuilders already named, each of these five will be looking to crack the top 10 an honor in this dense field of 13. It'll be especially interesting to see how debuting rookie Winklaar fares. R.W.'s accustomed to success in Columbus, having won last year's Arnold Amateur, and if he keeps the collection of cuts we saw in a two-weeks-out photo, his remarkable density will get noticed. Of these five low seeds, his sheer size gives him the best shot of Cinderella stardom and a finish in the elite eight.
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