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The Item: IFBB Pro League Olympia Preview, Legends Update, Fitness Industry Event, Special Appearances, Andrew Oye's IFBB Pro Athletes Roundup

The fitness and physique world is gearing up for the 2010 Joe Weider's Olympia Weekend (September 24-25). The industry will gather in Las Vegas, Nevada, to celebrate a birthday -- specifically the 45th Anniversary of the Mr. Olympia Championships, "Where Legends Are Made." MUSCLE INK Magazine honors the 45th Anniversary of the Olympia, salutes the fitness and physique world's best athletes, and celebrates the spirit of competition.

"Andrew Oye's Pro-Muscle Report" has learned that the Olympia promoters are pulling out all the stops and have invited all the Mr. Olympia champions of years past to appear. In its previous 44 years, the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness IFBB Pro League Mr. Olympia contest has produced 12 champion titleholders (several of whom have won the Mr. Olympia title multiple times) -- IFBB Pro Larry Scott (1965-1966), IFBB Pro Sergio Oliva (1967-1969), IFBB Pro Arnold Schwarzenegger (1970-1975, 1980), IFBB Pro Franco Columbu (1976, 1981), IFBB Pro Frank Zane (1977-1979), IFBB Pro Chris Dickerson (1982), IFBB Pro Samir Bannout (1983), IFBB Pro Lee Haney (1984-1991), IFBB Pro Dorian Yates (1992-1997), IFBB Pro Ronnie Coleman (1998-2005), IFBB Pro Jay Cutler (2006-2007, 2009), IFBB Pro Dexter Jackson (2008).

This year's main event is exciting in that there are three somewhat unique potential outcomes. The three options for the next Mr. Olympia winner could be: Option 1: a former winner who only held the title for a single year (Dexter Jackson), which hasn't happened in over two decades; Option 2: a reigning champ who was the first to ever lose and regain the title in back-to-back shows (Jay Cutler); or Option 3: a completely new winner (veterans who have come close to the title and impressive rookies praying for a miracle).

A "tradition," which skipped last year's event, of odds makers, experts and armchair forecasters automatically placing the incumbent champion's name first on their Top 6 lists seems to be rekindling. Nevertheless, the athlete who won last year is not technically guaranteed a repeat reward. In the 45th year of the "Super Bowl of Bodybuilding," the reigning champ has a fight on his hands. 

The 2010 Mr. Olympia contest will be a battle between 3-time Mr. Olympia IFBB Pro Jay Cutler, 2009 Olympia Runner-up IFBB Pro Branch Warren, 2008 Mr. Olympia IFBB Pro Dexter Jackson and the other strongest contenders -- based on prior placings and pre-game buzz -- winner of the Arnold Sports Festival's 2009 and 2010 IFBB Pro Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic Bodybuilding Championships IFBB Pro K. Greene, and 2010 Arnold Classic Runner-up IFBB Pro Phil Heath.

The other IFBB Pro League athletes who obtained IFBB Pro Olympia qualifications and are slated to compete include: Olympia regulars IFBB Pro Francisco "Paco" Bautista, IFBB Pro Toney Freeman, IFBB Pro Marcus Haley, IFBB Pro Johnnie Jackson, IFBB Pro Victor Martinez, IFBB Pro Craig Richardson, IFBB Pro Ronny Rockel, IFBB Pro Bill Wilmore, IFBB Pro Dennis Wolf, and IFBB Pro Hidetada Yamagishi, who is recovering from a tendon strain that derailed his goal to compete in every U.S. professional bodybuilding contest leading to the Olympia. IFBB Pro athletes qualified to make their Olympia debuts include leg-monster IFBB Pro Erik Fankhouser, IFBB Pro Evgeny Mishin, IFBB Pro Ed Nunn, IFBB Pro Robert Piotrkowicz and IFBB Pro Roelly Winklaar.

The word is that, following the IFBB Mr. Europe contest (won by Rockel) on September 11, 2010, IFBB Pro Dennis James announced intentions to retire from competitive bodybuilding after the Olympia. Two competitors who were reportedly planning to skip the show as they hunt for sponsorships are veteran Olympia contenders IFBB Pro Troy Alves and IFBB Pro Melvin Anthony. However, IFBB Pro League sources list Alves as being back in the game. The League's roster lists first-timers IFBB Pro Mark Alvisi and IFBB Pro Essa Obaid as qualified but not competing. IFBB Pro Ben White qualified for the event but has opted to sit out and compete in the IFBB "World's Strongest Bodybuilder" Powerlifting Challenge with IFBB Pro Stan Efferding.

"Fairness" watchdogs, conspiracy theorists, as well as discerning, dedicated fans will be paying attention to how this year's major shifts in media contract sponsorships will affect the outcome of the big show, if at all. In 2010, Cutler, the reigning champ, left Weider for another company. Meanwhile, two other favorites -- Heath and Greene -- re-signed with and joined Team Weider, respectively. Those who subscribe to bodybuilding politics say changes off-stage often play a part in placing changes on the stage. At the end of the day, the man who has his hand raised for a Sandow trophy on this special anniversary of the Olympia should have a physique worthy of the title or expect a loud outcry from skeptics.  

The lineup for the Olympia 202 Showdown is filled with rivalries and debuts. In 2009, reining champ IFBB Pro Kevin English defeated the 2008 winner IFBB Pro David Henry, whom many thought would rule the 202 Olympia contest for many consecutive years. IFBB Pro Eduardo Correa made an impressive debut in 2009 and carries some fan support for a possible 1st place finish at the show.

Returning with hopes to shake up the 202 ranks are IFBB Pro Jason Arntz, IFBB Pro Jaroslav Horvath, IFBB Pro Roc Shabazz, and IFBB Pro Richard "Tricky" Jackson, who has been promoting this upcoming "smack down" with fun, pre-show smack talk. IFBB Pro Jose Raymond has a friendly rivalry with Jackson, as well as a fan-fueled rivalry stemming from his controversial defeat of Henry at the 2010 Europa Battle of Champions back in July.

The IFBB Pro card-carrying athletes qualified to make their Olympia 202 Showdown debuts include IFBB Pro Ahmad Ahmad, IFBB Pro Luc Molines, IFBB Pro Steve Namat, and IFBB Pro Bola Ojex.

IFBB Pro League sources list IFBB Pro Seth Feroce as qualified but not competing in what would have been his Olympia debut. The IFBB Detroit Pro Bodybuilding Championships will take place a week before the Olympia on September 18, where some predict IFBB Pro Mark Dugdale, who is missing from the Olympia 202 Showdown competitors list, will earn a qualification to compete in Vegas.

"Andrew Oye's Pro-Muscle Report" has been tracking the IFBB Pro League contest season in anticipation of this edition of the Mr. Olympia Championships. In the Open Division, we could see an upset in the 4-man face-off between the Weider guys (Heath and Greene) versus the non-Weider guys (Cutler and Warren). In the 202 Division, we could see an upset if Correa hurdles over the two dominators, English and Henry, depending on how they show up. Ultimately, all posing and politics aside, the 2010 Olympia Weekend will be and should be about the old guy (the annual contest itself) turning 45 years old. Happy B-day.

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