by Christian Duque
I don’t know about you, but isn’t the Arnold 2021 line-up starting to really give the 2021 Olympic line-up a run? With the exception of Big Ramy, Brandon Curry, and Hadi Choopan, we see a large number of great bodybuilding stars. William Bonac, alone, is a man who won the Arnold and finished second in the Olympics. I mean, what separated Bonac and Curry from the 2019 title was a hair. Despite all the big names that have signed up, The Conqueror remains the big favorite to win – at least on paper.
Now, with the addition of The Beast Roelly Winklaar, handicappers are crawling. The 2019 People’s Champion looked better than ever last year, just days before boarding a flight to Orlando, FL. In what is probably the worst luck in the world, Winklaar tested positive for Covid19 and was therefore unable to fly and unable to compete. The fact that Roelly and William were both largely ignored, largely due to the fact that the Olympics promotions focused on their 4 champions (Brandon, Phil, Flex, and Dexter) approach, means that both of them have emerged from many important conversations . When Flex dropped out (for health reasons), Big Ramy’s special invitation made up for the void, but Winklaar and Bonac were still in the shadows.
Seeing Roelly do the Arnold 2021 with Bonac will undoubtedly get them a lot of buzz just a few weeks later for the 2021 Olympics. The inclusion of Nick Walker is also very interesting as the newly crowned New York Pro Champion 2021 will have the opportunity to do his best alongside some of the veteran champions. I wouldn’t call this Arnold a warm-up for the Olympics, but if anything, it’s a great preview of what’s to come – for both Walker and his competition. Akim Williams (Top 6 at Olympia 2020 and winner of the Puerto Rico Pro last week) will definitely lead to a real fight on stage too. I think when Sergio Oliva made the call it was answered! ! This competition is turning out to be a great competition, but could it dwarf the Olympics?
Historically, the first question would have no real basis. The Arnold starts the season and The Olympia ends it. Those who win the Arnold, along with last year’s Olympic runner-up, are considered the front runners / main challengers for this year’s Olympics. Handicappers always consider these two people – in any division – to be the favorites when it comes to challengers. This year, however, the Arnold will be held in September, there won’t be any qualifications or points awarded to those who are Olympic-bound, and since it’s in close proximity to the biggest bodybuilding contest, it can actually dissuade competitors. While Arnold’s already qualified competitors would most likely compete in the Olympics as well, others may be preparing for Columbus – and Columbus alone.
One guy a lot of people talk about is Kai Greene. There’s no love between Kai and the sport’s biggest event, but The Predator has always done really well in Columbus and he may want to return for another title. Ripped at 317lbs – it’s almost a fact that he’ll want to compete again. There’s just no need to be this big and tattered just to do comic conventions and appearances in stores. On the other hand, Kai loves to play with the fans so this could just be another year playing with those emotions. Phil Heath is another superstar who could do the Arnold. There is no evidence of this at the moment, but without Athleticon, who knows? I certainly don’t.
The Arnold is the second largest body-based event in the sport. Its winners can’t claim to be the best in the world, but they have tremendous show-off rights. Many will pose with Arnold and have him as a contact. Imagine if you could pick up the phone and call or text the bodybuilding biggest star. Arnold always will be. No one will ever surpass their notoriety, influence on people, and / or many of their accomplishments.
While The Oak may not be directly involved in running the event that bears his name (that is, The Lorimers, The Lorz, Mike Davies, etc.), he is particularly interested in recognizing the elite athletes who make up the various divisions and Sports within the company win the umbrella of the events of its competition. And while many of the bodybuilders in attendance met Arnold and anybody could likely contact him, the fact remains that whoever wins his show will be known worldwide. Having a photo with your arm raised in the circle of the winners, with the Terminator itself, is huge !! The prize money is also not to be despised. Despite the fact that there will be no trade fair this year, the organizers are donating the same amount !! This is a real commitment to the sport and to the competitors. The only thing they could do to make it better would be bring The 212 back, but that’s for another conversation. The fact is, the list of participants for the Arnold 2021 already looks as impressive as the Olympia. I just hope that many of the big names confirmed for Columbus will then compete in Orlando. Otherwise we could see a year in which the Arnold is bigger than the Olympia – in terms of quality.
With that in mind, who do you think will win the Arnold Classic 2021? I think a 100% match between Bonac and Williams would go to extremes !! Imagine watching Roelly and Nick both try 100% to freak out each other?!?! Another bombshell would be a perfectly chosen Lionel Beyeke. Of all the guys on this stage, Lionel has the most complete physique, but will he finally be able to give his best? Then of course Sergio Oliva Jr.
Sergio made headlines by calling bodybuilders high and low to compete in Columbus. I don’t know if he expected anything like this, but what started as a tough show has now become World War III !! Nonetheless, Sergio can 100% compete with any of these guys and he can win too. Only time will tell what these guys bring on stage. No amount of Instagram selfies or trash talk will matter until the jury calls out the best guys in the pre-judging round. That being said, at this level of competition, I expect the fitness media to have a great day, pinning the guys against each other, looking for rivalries and trying to make the most accurate predictions.
Are you happy that Roelly Winklaar and Nick Walker have been added to the Arnold Classic list of competitors? Do you think either of them can win the competition?