The most memorable highlight of the ’11 Mr. Olympia competition was the postcontest emotion and character displayed by both the new Mr. Olympia, Phil Heath, and Jay Cutler, who had been the defending champion. I’ve known Jay and have observed his interaction with fans and friends, and what we all heard that night was absolutely a reflection of who he is.
I first met Phil when he won the IRON MAN Pro in 2008. My immediate and lasting impression of him was of a quietly confident and secure person. He was a gracious winner and joyously interacted with his fans.
Having Phil and Jay onstage and in a highly charged emotional state at the Olympia was a rare opportunity. We witnessed what a champion is and what he’s made of. Most of the time the champs are depicted in two-dimensional ways, all about muscle, workouts, nutrition and so on. Their “humanness” is hidden by the fantastic mounds of muscle, yet they’re not defined by muscle but by character—and Jay demonstrated plenty of that.
To hear Jay say that he was actually happy for Phil and then talk about Phil’s character and what a wonderful representative he would be for bodybuilding was to experience pure sportsmanship. Jay talked of Phil as his friend and how proud he was of him—truly goose-bump moments.
Because of Jay’s emotional eloquence, when he left the stage to Phil as the new Mr. Olympia, he did it as a champion—and to a standing ovation. Jay has so many fans for multiple reasons, not only because of his physique but also because the fans sense who he is. Phil was fighting back tears while Jay spoke, and when he took the microphone, he was equally eloquent about what the title meant to him and what an example Jay was.
Through all of this nobody left, everyone being transfixed by the emotion of the moment. Phil went on to thank all of the people who helped him along the way and said he couldn’t have done it alone. A great champ steps away and is replaced by someone who appreciates the joys of winning and friendship and understands the responsibility that goes with the title.
Congratulations to Phil on becoming the ’11 Mr. Olympia. If you want to experience the audio of these two champions at the microphone, scan the code on this page or go to IronManMagazine.com. IM