I had a great time attending the 2011 Mr. Olympia contest in Las Vegas from September 15-17th. I was there working for my sponsor Optimum Nutrition/ABB and we had one of the biggest and best booths at the Olympia Expo. My job for Optimum this year was to go around the Expo and get some good video interviews with my flip camera for the new website True Strength (www.truestrength.com). This is going to be a great website that was launched on the Olympia weekend so be sure to check it out for some of my video interviews from the Olympia weekend.
I arrived in Las Vegas on Thursday, September 15th. I caught an early 6 a.m. flight out of Tampa so I could arrive in Sin City at 8 a.m. I am considering competing in another couple of months so I wanted to stay on my regular diet as much as possible while I was out of town for the next four days. I packed a hot plate in my luggage so I could cook my food in the hotel and I also brought along plenty of frozen chicken and turkey along with some rice cakes in my carry on bag.
When I got into Vegas, I rented a car and stopped off at Whole Foods and Target to stock up on the items I would need while I was in town. I saw Bikini Olympia competitor and one of the most beautiful women in the sport, Dina Al-Sabah, shopping at Whole Foods while I was there. When I went to Target, I bought a small George Foreman grill to cook my meat along with a small cooler so I could keep the food cold before I cooked it. I also purchased some oatmeal, Ezekiel bread, some sponges and dish soap to clean up from my cooking and some small and large plastic baggies so I could bring my food with me.
By the time I finished shopping and checked into my hotel, it was time to take off for the Orleans Hotel to see the Olympia Press Conference. The Press Conference this year was sort of low key and many of the first time competitors were unfamiliar to most of the audience. The reigning champ Jay Cutler brought along his Sandow trophy with him and placed it in front of him during the event. Phil Heath looked like he was very serious and hungry to get onstage. Cutler looked very relaxed and at ease. I remember how serious and depleted Jay appeared when he regained the title in 2009 and he didn’t have that same “do or die” look today.
Later that evening, I went to the Meet the Olympians event at the Orleans. I was doing interviews for GMV Productions and Wayne Gallasch. Wayne was in charge of filming all the prejudging events at the Olympia Expo as well as the backstage action on Friday and Saturday night. I have been helping Wayne out by doing the interviews for him at the Meet the Olympians event for the last few years. We tried to interview a good mix of male and female bodybuilders as well as Bikini, Figure and Fitness athletes. It was a lot of fun. I was happy to see both Mike Neveux and John Balik from Ironman Magazine at the Meet the Olympians.
One bodybuilder that really impressed me was Jose Raymond. Jose has been a good friend of mine for more than 10 years now. I remember when he was a determined lightweight competitor who had good potential. Now he is one of the best 202 pound competitors in the world and he was going all out for the title of 202 Mr. Olympia this year. Jose is one of the few bodybuilders who is not afraid to show what he’s got before the contest. He was happily taking pictures with fans all night and flexing his massive 21 inch arms and pulling his shorts up to display his freaky and vascular quads. At 5’4″ and 205 pounds, Jose is TANK!
On Friday, I was at the Olympia Expo all day doing interviews and checking out the action at the stage in the back. The Olympia Fitness, Bikini and Women’s Bodybuilding was all judged during the day on Friday with the finals taking place later that night at the Orleans Hotel. In addition, an open Bikini contest was also being judged. The Flex Bikini Search brought out 73 hopeful competitors, some of them competing for the very first time.
Friday night was the long show of the weekend. The Finals for the Olympia Fitness, Bikini and Women’s Bodybuilding were contested followed by the prejudging for the Mr. Olympia contest. Congratulations to Adela Garcia for winning her 6th Fitness Olympia title and to Iris Kyle for winning her 7th Ms. Olympia title. Iris was pushed hard by a very ripped Yaxeni Oriquen but Iris was too good with her incredible quads and back width. In the Bikini division, 19 year old Nicole Nagrani beat out Nathalia Mello by only 3 points. Being an ardent supporter of the round glute area, I thought Nathalia would take the title but Nicole edged her out this time.
In the eagerly anticipated Men’s prejudging, the crowd was excited to see who looked the best. Dennis Wolf was up first and he blew the crowd away with his super wide shoulders and good conditioning. Victor Martinez also looked incredible, showing up in his best condition in years. Kai Greene was super thick and massive but a little off from the sharp conditioning he showed when he won the New York Pro Show. Phil Heath looked outstanding when he stepped onstage, even better than last year. Phil was huge, full, separated and ripped. He would be extremely hard to beat.
The man to beat, of course, was the reigning Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler. Jay entered the stage to thunderous applause from his hometown crowd. Massive as always, it was soon apparent that Jay was not as ripped or conditioned as he was last year and certainly not as superior as he was in 2009. His waist was noticeably wider and he appeared softer in the back.
During the comparisons, it became obvious to everyone at the prejudging that Phil Heath was going to be the next Mr. Olympia. Phil had Jay beat in every pose and his crisp, sharp muscularity eclipsed Jay’s muscular size. Jay looked blocky next to Phil and there was no way that Heath would be denied the title this year.
Saturday was a super busy day at the Expo. The Men’s 202 Olympia prejudging was held at the Expo along with the Figure Olympia. In addition, the Flex Bikini finals was contested along with a Men’s Physique division. The judges had their work cut out for them, judging 73 girls plus an additional half dozen online competitors.
The big event was held Saturday night at the Orleans Hotel. My friend Erin Stern was defeated by the former Figure Olympia champ Nicole Wilkins. I felt bad for Erin because I see how hard she works out at the Powerhouse Gym in downtown Tampa. She really wanted to defend the title but I know she’ll be back because she’s a fierce competitor. Jose Raymond took 3rd in the 202 Men’s Olympia. I was hoping Jose would win this year because he also works like a demon in the gym and he’s been training hard all year for this one night. However, James “Flex” Lewis was in outstanding condition with shredded glutes that brought gasps from the audience. The reigning champ, Kevin English, won the title again despite being a little flat compared to his usual freaky physique.
In the Mr. Olympia contest, Phil Heath became only the 13th Mr. Olympia in the competition’s 47 year history as he defeated Jay Cutler. Jay showed incredible class by smiling and giving a short speech congratulating his best friend in the world on his impressive victory. Jay Cutler showed what a true champion is all about at this moment. Kai Greene was in third place followed by Victor Martinez in 4th and Dennis Wolf in 5th.
All in all, it was a great show this year and I had so much fun at the Olympia weekend. Going to an event like this or the Arnold Classic can’t help but pump you up and motivate you even more. I’m looking forward to training extremely hard over the next two months to get into the best shape I can this year and this weekend really helped to inspire and motivate me!