Mr. Olympia 2016: Top Competitors Who Will Threaten Phil Heath's Title

David McCracken@crackemcFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2016

2012 Mr. Olympia, Phil Heath, poses for a portrait Wednesday, September 18, 2013, in Los Angeles. Heath's quest for the Olympia title is the focal point of director, Vlad Yudin's bodybuilding documentary,
Nick Ut/Associated Press

Defending champion Phil Heath will put his title of Mr. Olympia on the line once again this weekend, as the Mr. Olympia 2016 competition gets underway in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Heath, 36, has won the last five Mr. Olympia competitions and is looking for No. 6 in 2016, looking to become the first bodybuilder to accomplish that feat since Ronnie Coleman had eight from 1998 to 2005.

Although age might be starting to become a factor, Heath is still the best bodybuilder in the world and doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Kai Greene has, historically, been the greatest threat to Heath's reign, and he has won the Arnold Classic, Arnold Classic Australia and Arnold Classic Brazil all in 2016.

But Greene will not be participating this year after reportedly being suspended in 2015; however, Mr. Olympia promoter Robin Chang released an official statement last year disputing the suspension, blaming Greene for not signing the contract to attend. 

With Greene not participating in the competition for the second year in a row after three consecutive runner-up finishes, the pool of competitors to dethrone Heath is scarce. 

Having said that, there is one man who poses the greatest threat to dethrone Heath—that man being the 2015 runner-up Dexter Jackson.

The veteran surprised many with a win at the 2008 Mr. Olympia and turned some heads last year as well with his second-place finish behind Heath.

While Jackson is 10 years older than Heath, the 46-year-old shows no sign of letting up, as explained by Greg Meritt of Flex:

No one in this year’s Olympia has beaten [Heath] more than [Jackson] has [...] Jackson bested Heath four times between 2007 and ’09, including his 2008 Olympia victory. But what has he done lately? He was a surprising second last year, and he’s continued to add to his trophy collection this year, nabbing his record tying 26th pro title. At 46, Jackson’s remarkable consistency is his greatest attribute and, in a duel with Heath, a liability. He’s perpetually on, even if he’s not as high-def as he was a decade ago, and he always has enough size to contend. Still, he’s 15 to 20 pounds lighter than Heath and lacking that same 3-D pop in his legs and back. He can’t beat Heath when Heath is on, but if the champ is off, Jackson, the 12th Mr. O, might be the safest choice to retake the throne.

If you think Jackson is too old to beat Heath, think again.


Honorable mention

Kevin Levrone, 52, is making his comeback at Mr. Olympia this year, looking to add another title to his illustrious, IFBB (International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness) Hall of Fame career. 

The Arnold Classic—March 3, 1996.
The Arnold Classic—March 3, 1996.GARY GARDINER/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated Press

While Levrone has spent the last year preparing for this competition, he is not a serious threat to take the title this year but may earn a top-five finish if he shows out well. 

It's a remarkable comeback for an athlete at that age in what is arguably the most physically demanding sport there is, but kudos to Levrone for showing the world that age is just a number and that having the right mentality can make anything possible.


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