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An Extraordinary League

The IFBB pro league has become the greatest bodybuilding and fitness federation in the world.
Per Bernal

WITH AN EXPLOSION OF GROWTH IN JUST A FEW SHORT YEARS, THE IFBB PRO LEAGUE HAS BECOME THE GREATEST BODYBUILDING AND FITNESS FEDERATION IN THE WORLD—AND THERE’S NO BETTER PLACE TO PROVE IT THAN AT THE 2017 OLYMPIA FITNESS AND PERFORMANCE WEEKEND

Bodybuilding is where it began, back in 1965 when Larry Scott won the first Mr. Olympia. And bodybuilding—through its many incarnations, from the Sergio and Arnold years, to Zane, on through to Haney and Yates—is where it stayed. But 30 years later a new division added Olympia as its ultimate championship title, the Fitness Olympia in 1995. Since then, under the leadership of NPC and IFBB Pro League president Jim Manion, these divisions followed: Figure Olympia (2003); 212 Olympia (2008); Bikini Olympia (2010); Men’s and Women’s Physique Olympias (2013); and last year, the Classic Physique Olympia. From extreme size and condition to shape and beauty and mainstream athletic appeal, each division represents the broad spectrum of tastes in the fitness world. This September, we celebrate this diversity with a preview of the seven division champions and challengers at the 2017 Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend. 

212 OLYMPIA

Will Flex Lewis remain undefeated and increase his 212 O count to six against this year’s crop of challengers? 

In 2011 Flex Lewis was back after taking the previous year off to make improvements to what was already one of the top three physiques in the 202 division. With a win at the Atlantic City Pro to qualify for that year’s 202 Olympia, Lewis suffered a devastating loss to three-time champ Kevin English. Now, six years later, that loss was the last time Lewis has seen anything less than first place in 14 contests, including five 212 Olympias (the division limit was increased in 2012). Already the record holder for most 212 titles and Olympias, Lewis is eyeing to widen the gap with his competition, led by last year’s runner-up and 2017 Arnold 212 winner Ahmad Ashkanani, longtime foes Jose Raymond, Eduardo Correa, David Henry, Hidetada Yamagishi, and others eager to dethrone the King of the 212. 

CLASSIC PHYSIQUE OLYMPIA

Classic Physique is set for a shake-up as a living legend comes back for another shot at Olympia glory.

OK, so with all due respect to defending champ Danny Hester, the big headline heading into the second Classic Physique Olympia is a guy who last competed in open bodybuilding at the 2003 Ironman Pro Invitational, where he placed third. Flex Wheeler, the four-time Arnold Classic champ and Mr. Olympia runner-up in 1993, 1998-99, will go for the O in a new division against a crop of both new and veteran athletes. How will he stack up against the likes of Hester, Arash Rahbar, Sadik Hadzovic, Darrem Charles, and the rest of the field? 

MEN'S PHYSIQUE OLYMPIA

Can anyone stop Jeremy Buendia from winning his fourth straight title? 

The most populated men’s division at the Olympia has been won the past three years by California’s Jeremy Buendia. He’ll have his work cut out for him this year, with Ryan Terry, who won the Arnold Men’s Physique earlier this year, and Andre Ferguson, Jeremy Potvin, Brandon Hendrickson, and the other 30 competitors who will make up what will surely be another record-breaking number at this year’s Olympia Weekend. 

 

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