The field is set for Mr. Olympia 2020 as defending champion Brandon Curry takes on a field that includes two previous winners of the Sandow Trophy and a slew of other top contenders in Orlando, Florida.
Like pretty much any other event in the year 2020, bodybuilding's biggest competition has been impacted by the coronavirus. Roelly Winklaar—who finished fifth in the 2019 event—has been ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19, per Roger Lockridge of Barbend.com. That's in addition to the venue change for the event traditionally held in Las Vegas.
Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Ellsbiay will be competing in the event despite not officially qualifying after testing positive for coronavirus. He was extended a special invitation to compete, per Lockridge. The third-place finisher at the 2020 Arnold Classic figures to be a factor in the main event.
Curry's win in last year's event was a bit clouded by the absence of Phil Heath last year. The seven-time champion took the year off, and 2018 champion Shawn Rhoden was not permitted to compete because he was accused of sexual assault.
This year, the field is more competitive as Heath is back in the mix along with several other up-and-coming challengers.
Saturday, December 19 at 7 p.m. Finals for:
- Mr. Olympia
- Men's Physique Olympia
- Bikini Olympia
- Classic Physique Olympia
Full schedule can be found on Mr. Olympia Official Site.
Past Winners, Preview
Rhoden confirmed on JayCutlerTV (h/t Generation Iron) that he will sit out Mr. Olympia again this year as his ongoing legal battles have yet to be resolved. So that leaves three former champions who will compete for the prize this year.
Brandon Curry is the most recent, having won the title in 2019. His previous best in bodybuilding's premier event was a fifth-place finish in 2018, so it's fair to say his win came as a bit of a surprise. He did, however, win the Arnold Classic in 2019, which foreshadowed his breakthrough showing.
Now, he has the pressure of repeating as champion with Phil Heath (and others) gunning for another title. For his part, Curry has made it clear he isn't afraid of going toe-to-toe with Heath.
"I'm very comfortable going pose to pose," he said on Instagram Live (h/t Jonathan Salmon of Generation Iron). "I think I brought enough to improve. I don't think he's (Heath) going to be as dominant from the side against me. And despite what a lot of people may think, I don't think he's going to be as dominant from the back against me either."
Defeating Heath would certainly add some legitimacy to Curry's title. Heath is a legend of the sport as a seven-time winner of the Sandow. He's tied with Arnold Schwarzenegger for second-most wins of all-time. An eight victory would tie him with Ronnie Coleman and Lee Haney.
Heath's seven victories came in successive order from 2011-2017. That run came to an end with a narrow loss to Rhoden in 2018.
However, Heath believes he's back and ready to claim the title that would propel him to the rarest of company.
"I feel like I'm obviously going to be in great condition," Heath told Ron Harris of Muscular Development (h/t Kevin Grech of Evolution of Bodybuilding). "Everything is going to be where I need it to be. Otherwise, I would have never come back. That just doesn't make sense. I'm a pretty smart dude, if I still had injuries...I think a lot of people fail to realize that I had an injury."
Still, coming back from more than a year away from competition at 41 years old will be a difficult task.
Not as difficult as the path for 51-year-old Dexter Jackson, the only other previous winner in the field. He claimed the Sandow in 2008 but was a fourth-place finisher in the competition in 2019. Jackson told RxMuscle that this will be his final show as he intends to retire.
There's more than one former champion who has a chance at winning Mr. Olympia for the first time in their career, though.
William Bonac claimed his first win at the 2020 Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. Given the form he displayed there and the physique that he will presumably bring to Orlando, he is just as good a bet to walk away with the top prize as anyone.
Bonac finished second in the competition last year and has finished in the top five each of the last five years. With Heath getting older, Curry unproven as a dynastic champion and Jackson riding into the sunset, this could be the Ghanaian's year.
Big Ramy is another name to keep an eye on. He was named "most muscular" at the Arnold Classic in March and could well play the role of spoiler as well if he's in great condition.