by Christian Duque
The beast, Roelly Winklaar, could have won the Mr. Olympia 2020. I don’t like living in the past, but this point needs to be mentioned. It’s such a strong point that I decided to start the article with it. Everyone, and I mean everyone, couldn’t believe their eyes last year. The 2018 Olympic People’s Champion was in top form; The only thing left was to get on a plane to Orlando, FL. As I said, 2020 was the beginning of chaos. Although the competition had long, changed dates and venues until the 2020 Olympics, the world was still ravaged by the Covid-19 virus. Even today, with concerns about the Delta Variant growing, we are still struggling for normalcy, but last year was so much crazier. I don’t think we’ve had a year like 2020 and hopefully never again.
Anyway, even Big Ramy, one of the most hyped contestants in the 2020 competition, found himself sidelined by the virus. Since he could not qualify, he was specially invited. Just when everything seemed ready for the O, just days later, Roelly caught the virus. Unlike in Ramy’s case, Roelly caught it so close to the date of the event that not only would it have been difficult for him to compete, he wouldn’t even have got a flight. Talk about bad luck and the worst possible timing. What a huge missed opportunity.
But yeah, no matter how great someone looks on social media, it’s not the same as being on stage. I give it to you! And no matter how great someone looks on social media, it doesn’t mean they will look the same after the last 48. I’ll give you that too !! However, if you look at the size and condition that Winklaar has achieved, the top 3 were overwritten !! If Roelly had taken the stage at the 2020 Olympics, I think he would have kicked Phil Heath out of the top 3. And if you imagine these top 3, with Ramy, Curry and Winklaar, all in top form, all fighting for the title, it could have been a different story. Could it get any worse?
Well, if Roelly was going to compete in the 2021 Mr. Olympia, he would have to qualify. He doesn’t have to worry about that for a long time. As one of the top 5 for years, The Beast has got used to automatic qualification. That meant he could compete – if he wanted – but his place at Olympia was secure. Many guys who are in this elite club only compete once a year. They represent the richest and most powerful 1% of the pro ranks. They attract top sponsors, make good money, and usually have year-round training for the sport’s biggest competition. If you need to qualify, you have to put your body through the wrestler now – just like everyone else. That’s a bitter pill for a lot of the top guys; it is both humiliating and often overwhelming.
Roelly, could have played. He could have laid down, not stood, and counted on a special invitation. Let’s not forget that fans voted Roelly their champion in 2018. Now owned by Jake Wood and directed by Dan Solomon, Olympia puts fans above all else. It’s not just positive PR from Iron Magazine, it’s 100% money. The Olympics haven’t always cared about what fans had to say, but the current leadership revolves around it. I honestly believe that if Roelly hadn’t gotten into the contest circuit like this, at least serious consideration would have been given to giving him a special invitation. The fans want Roelly on stage and Roelly is selling tickets – that would definitely spark some high-level discussion. However, the fact that he is a man for men earned him even more respect.
It is not easy to confuse it with the common people. For years, Roelly was considered the future Mr. Olympia. I would say he still is, but now he deserves to be back at the top. He competed in Chicago and finished in the top 5, but since he’s been unable to live up to the hype that scared even Hunter Labrada, it likely took him psychologically. He later fought in Europe, where he finished second behind Nathan De Asha and qualified for the Olympics. It wasn’t child’s play, but he fought so hard that it could have gone either way.
To be honest, I didn’t know that 2nd place at this European show qualified him for the O; I was ready to lobby for a special invitation. In fact, I even talked about it in This Week In Bodybuilding (episode of this article). When the audience started pointing out that Winklaar was indeed qualified, I was absolutely thrilled to be wrong. It’s a mistake I was only too happy to admit. And while I could sit here and start comparing Roelly to Brandon, Roelly to Ramy or Roelly to aspiring giants like Nick Walker, where Winklaar is placed in the Olympia, doesn’t really matter to this article.
The whole premise of this story is the fact that a guy like Roelly Winklaar is taking off. When neglected, he would not have tantrums, undercut his competition, or claim or imply inappropriateness (e.g. politics, favoritism, etc.). I’m very proud that Roelly knew what to do and did it, especially after being largely ignored in 2020. Although he was looking his best possible, possibly for years, he was not the focus of promotions. The 2020 Olympics was all about the 4 Mr. Olympias (Brandon Curry, the retired Dexter Jackson, Phil Heath and Flex Lewis). Even when The Welsh Dragon pulled out, the limelight wasn’t on guys (who deserved it) like William Bonac or Roelly Winklaar. Instead, Big Ramy was asked to receive a special invitation. In the 2021 Olympics, we still haven’t seen much of the limelight on The Beast. That’s good and bad.
It’s good because it allows the Dutch icon to exercise in peace, prepare without drama, and possibly fly under the radar all the way to the stage. While Winklaar has never been involved in controversy, being the obsession with the press is enough to drive any competitor completely insane. On the other hand, being ignored isn’t ideal either. Roelly has sponsorships and I’m sure I either want more of it – or – more money / performance from the companies he’s currently working with. Being ignored by the press doesn’t really allow him to market himself nearly as effectively as exposing himself. A golden mean would be perfect for Winklaar and I suspect that this will be his reality after this year’s Olympics. I think the contests that Roelly missed, if only marginally, gave him some major cliff marks for the biggest contest of the year.
Can Roelly Winklaar win the Mr. Olympia 2021?
Absolutely! As a hybrid bodybuilder, he is able to fight mass monsters and conditioned freaks. His look is a fusion of the two, and that’s not all that common now or ever. As long as he poses hard, trains the audience (like only a People’s Champion can), and doesn’t lose heart (which he never does), he can definitely go along.
I’ve always believed that anyone who makes it into the top 3 can win the entire event. If you’re so on point and so focused – it’s your show to lose. I don’t care if you’re up against a defending champion. If you’re rightly in the top 3 in a tough Arnold or Olympia, then every single pose and transition will decide whether you win, take second place, or go third.
If Roelly works his way back into the top 3, he can definitely be your Mr. Olympia 2021. The fact that he was hungry to qualify and the fact that his head is 100% in the game even though he’s not a media favorite means he comes up with one thing – and only one thing on his mind – WIN!