Olympia Men’s Physique champion Jeremy Buendia makes history—again.
By Mike Carlson
PQ: “It is our responsibility to be a good representation of this sport and help this sport grow. Twenty years from now, we are going to be the Arnolds and Francos of this division.”
PQ: “I have consistently been getting better every single year and consistently working hard. That has proven to a lot of people that I am here to stay.”
Four days after Jeremy Buendia made history by winning the Mr. Olympia Men’s Physique contest for the third year in a row, the champ is sick. He’s subdued by the kind of respiratory tract infection that plagues fighters and marathoners, athletes who deplete themselves in preparation for battle. Buendia’s win was a dogfight after all, the closest contest in the history of the Men’s Physique division. He won by a single point, and only three points separated the second runner-up. Buendia’s composed demeanor isn’t just the bug, though. He’s different. Buendia is humbler, quick to give credit and share his accolades with trainer Hany Rambod and girlfriend Narmin Assria. It’s a shift in perspective, he says, that comes not from winning a third title but in doing what it took to capture the belt.
“It was a team effort this year. I had to fall back on people to get me the help I needed to get me through,” he says. “It was something I had never done before because I had always tried to do everything myself. It opened my eyes that you can lean on people who support you. In the end it only makes you better.”
Mike Carlson: Did winning this Olympia feel different than the other two?
Jeremy Buendia: Getting the first and second wins were amazing, but three in a row? There is no taking that away from me. There is no luck. It was just hard work. Coming out on top again proved to a lot of people that I am the best in my sport. It meant a lot to earn that respect from everybody. And it definitely showed out there. People have come up to me and given me appreciation, respect, and acknowledgement for how hard I have worked. I have consistently been getting better every single year and consistently working hard. That has proven to a lot of people that I am here to stay.
MC: Did you have a lot of doubters?
JB: There were. I have been doubted all my preps. This year, not as much. I had a lot of people thinking I was going to do very well this year. But I got pushed this year. There were a lot of great athletes on the stage. This was the closest Olympia I ever had.
MC: Why was it so close?
JB: I made some mistakes in my posing and it hurt me onstage. I wasn’t engaging my obliques on my signature shot, which is that angled front pose. People thought I wasn’t as conditioned this year, but that wasn’t the case. I was just posing incorrectly. When Hany saw that he told me. I went back out for the second comparisons, and when I hit that shot they moved me right to the middle and they didn’t move me after that. Had I hit that pose correctly from the get-go, would it have been that close? I don’t think so.
MC: Why did the posing mistake happen?
JB: I was concerned with having my abs compared to Ryan Terry’s. He has a great midsection. I didn’t want my front abs to be washed out. Sometimes when I hit my middle six abs my obliques wash out, and I was super focused on trying to keep my middle six abs popping the whole time because I have brought them up significantly from last year—I wanted the judges to see that. I just didn’t engage them correctly. It could have been lack of practice posing, it could have been nerves, it could have been sweat. I started sweating really bad the first go-round and it kind of stressed me out onstage because that had never happened to me before. We were all sweating, but I was sweating the most out of everybody. My abs started looking more washed out because the tanner was dripping. I saw Hany in the audience and he told me to wipe my stomach. It blended my abs back in and they popped that much more and looked that much better.
MC: Your trainer Hany seems like a clutch piece of your puzzle.
JB: Hany has been clutch all prep for me! That guy cared so much for me this prep. It was unbelievable. Every morning he calls me: “What’s your weight? How do you look?” Every single morning. It was a team effort between me and him this year. My girlfriend, too. Narmin [Assria] has come through for me every single day, going through everything with me. I had to fall back on God this prep, too, and ask God for the strength to get me through. I couldn’t do it on my own this year. He made me realize that. He played an instrumental part in the last three weeks of my prep.
MC: When you were onstage, could you feel that the competition was co close?
JB: Absolutely. I was being moved in and out constantly. I knew the guys I was standing next to had amazing physiques. Ryan Terry, Jeremy Potvin, Andre Ferguson, all the top five. Brandon Hendrickson looked friggin’ sharp! Jeremy Potvin looked amazing all prep. I knew we were going to get compared a lot because we shared the same name, same ethnicity, and a similar look. I knew they were going to compare me and Brandon onstage, and me and Ryan. I got to stand next to every single person in the top five. Everyone had a chance to stand next to each other and be compared.
MC: What did you do differently in your prep this year?
JB: It was a matter of staying on point all year long. I only had about six weeks of the year where I was out of shape. I stayed in shape through all my traveling, and I stayed on my diet. Narmin competed all year round, so I was working and training and dieting with her. I just stayed focused. I was working all year long. A very high-up somebody in the supplement and social media world texted me yesterday to say, “There are a lot of people who talk about how hard they work, and only a few who show how hard they work, and you are one of them.”
MC: When did you know you had first place?
JB: I felt pretty confident after pre-judging. It was stressful when they said “Jeremy” for third place, but then they said “Potvin”! I heard “Jeremy” and my heart dropped. When they called his name I knew I had it. Potvin and I had our problems on social media and other personal issues. But we came to a reconciliation the day after the Olympia, and he came up to me and we rekindled our friendship. He went out to dinner with us the last night. We are all coming together. This sport has given us all so much. It is our responsibility to be a good representation of this sport and help this sport grow. Twenty years from now, we are going to be the Arnolds and Francos of this division.
MC: You just accomplished something in this sport that may never be replicated, but you sound humble. Tell me about that.
JB: It is my perspective on my purpose right now. I have grown a lot during this prep and realized the person I am, my purpose in the sport, and the platform I am given. This is a gift, to be on top of the sport and have all of these people know who I am. It is not just for me. God has given me a purpose in this life. My purpose is to be in front of these people on this platform and show people how great life can be when you have God in your life. I am never going to be the Jesus freak that is in your face screaming at you. I just want people to see how good He has been to me and how He has been able to enlighten my life and my mind and spirit.
MC: Is your attitude better because life is so good, or is life good because you changed your attitude?
JB: Things are better because of my attitude. God opened my eyes in a lot of ways the last three weeks. It is a whole different feeling I have within me. I get up with a different energy now and with a different purpose. It is not about me anymore. If you don’t make everything about yourself, things aren’t as stressful.
MC: Who do you consider to be your biggest competitors in 2017?
JB: I think Ryan Terry and Jeremy Potvin are going to be threats. People really like the “Jeremy versus Jeremy” hype. It’s cool and it’s good for the sport. And he is a tremendous competitor. And Ryan Terry was on point. He’s always a competitor. I think it’s going to be a very similar top three next year. IM
Name: Jeremy Buendia
Contest Weight: 176 pounds
Lives: Murrieta, CA
Profession: IFBB Pro
Favorite Drink: Diet Coke
Go-To Website: Instagram
Desert Island Exercises: Push-ups, pull-ups, lunges
Binge TV Show: The Walking Dead
Sponsors: Evogen Nutrition, Meal Prep Kingz