When Jim Lorimer, who co-promotes the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic with The Governator each March, told me last week “this field is as strong as any we’ve had,” he wasn’t just blowing smoke up Santa’s chimney.
When is the last time anyone can recall that the defending champion in Columbus was NOT the favorite going into the following year? That’s exactly the case for the 2010 bash, set for March 7 at Vets Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, Ohio.
Unless, of course, you consider Kai Greene, the ’09 champion, as your definite choice over Dexter Jackson, Branch Warren and Phil Heath, that is. Not that the amazing Kai can’t win back-to-back titles; if the 5’8”, 245-pounder looks as good as he did last season when he dominated the show, he certainly has a SHOT to repeat. But, even if that transpires, it’s not a done deal.
Jackson has won the contest three times, and a fourth victory would tie him with Ken (Flex) Wheeler as the all-time record holder. And, do I need to mention that the 2008 Mr. Olympia is beyond pissed at not only losing the crown back to Jay Cutler in ’09, but also at being moved down to third, a point behind Warren? One thing I know for sure; The Blade will be in sublime condition in Ohio—the 5’6 ½”, 225-pounder out of Jacksonville, Florida didn’t earn his moniker by being inconsistent on stage.
That gets us back to Warren. Branch, for my money, should have been runner-up to Kai last year in Columbus before settling for third. But, the 5’6 ½”, 245-pounder from Texas did capture the “Most Muscular” crown for the third time, then followed that up with his second place finish at the ‘Olympa, the biggest “surprise” of the weekend in Las Vegas. So, he has to be considered a co-favorite going in this one.
Heath took second two years ago at the ASC and, along with Greene, was one of the picks to capture the Sandow last year. But, like Kai, “The Gift” was unwrapped and disappointed with a fifth place landing at the Orleans Arena, one slot behind Greene. Phil’s got the good to win this, too. So, as you can see, there are really FOUR guys who can legitimately battle for the $150,000 first place prize.
And, let’s don’t overlook Toney Freeman. At 43, the 6’2”, 275-pounder out of Atlanta, Georgia (well, he SHOULD be 275, not the 290 he was at the ‘Olympia) has the best lines of all of the above and, if in prime time condition, can toss a monkey wrench into the whole predictions thing.
Also, Ronny Rockel, who beat Freeman at the ‘Olympia when he finished his all-time highest in seventh, will be on stage and can’t be overlooked for a top 6 slot; ditto for the ever-improving Hidetada Yamagishi. And, the winners of the last two Arnold Amateur events, Tarek Elsetouchi and Roelly Winklaar, ain’t exactly chopped liver.
Of course, Melvin Anthony and Silveo Samuel, neither included in the top 10 at the ‘0 last year, still feel they have a lot to say about who ends up in the top 6, favorites or not.
Yes, Mr. Lorimer, this should be a Jim dandy. I won’t be making my predictions until closer to the show, but if any of the readers are willing to put their choices on paper, please feel free to send them along. Dare you.
2010 ARNOLD CLASSIC FIELD
- Melvin Anthony
- Tarek Elsetouchi
- Toney Freeman
- Kai Greene
- Phil Heath
- Dexter Jackson
- Johnnie Jackson
- Robert Piotrkowicz
- Ronny Rockel
- Silveo Samuel
- Sergey Shelestov
- Branch Warren
- Roelly Winklaar
- Hidetada Yamagishi