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ANDREW OYE'S IFBB PRO LEAGUE OLYMPIA REPORT: "MAKING LEGENDS, BREAKING RECORDS" AT JOE WEIDER'S OLYMPIA WEEKEND EXPO: AN EXERCISE IN ENERGY AND EXCITEMENT, PLUS THE RECROWNING OF MR. OLYMPIA BODYBUILDING CHAMPION IFBB PRO JAY CUTLER

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Fitness Industry Event, Special Appearances, Andrew Oye's IFBB Pro Athletes Roundup

JOE WEIDER'S OLYMPIA WEEKEND EXPO: AN EXERCISE IN ENERGY + EXCITEMENT

Once again the world converged on Las Vegas, amped with anticipation that Joe Weider's Olympia Weekend 2009 would be an event to remember. International press and bodybuilding fans had traveled many miles to witness the battle between the sport's current elite.

MEET THE OLYMPIANS
Among the crowd at the Meet the Olympians meet-and-greet event, I bumped into 23-year-old IFBB Pro Dan Hill, who shared with me the challenges of landing a sponsor despite his unique story as the current youngest pro. "It's hard because I'm in Europe. A lot of the companies already have a 'young guy' on their team, so they can't pick me up," says Hill. "But I've been sending out my resumes and video reel and I plan to move to Los Angeles in the spring of next year."

I caught up with IFBB Pro Jason Arntz, who had come to attack the Olympia 202 Showdown with a new prep coach -- 6-time Mr. Olympia IFBB Pro Dorian Yates. "Working with Yates has helped me leaps and bounds from my last competition. A little different approach, but I think I made some huge strides. My conditioning is a lot better. I'm a lot fuller with detail I haven't seen in a long time. I'm sharper with a little more maturity. He coached me with everything from about 10-12 weeks out and right up to my last-minute prep, checking me out every couple of hours."

While the comparison judging round and posing routines for the 202 Showdown were still held at the Olympia Expo, many were excited about the moving of the 202 Awards and the Top 6 posedown to the main Olympia stage at Orleans Arena. "It's a good thing," Arntz remarked. "It's more recognition for the athletes. As an athlete, you want to be on the Olympia stage. They took a big step this year, by allowing us to have the finale at the Night Show. Hopefully next year the whole contest will be held there. We're taking baby steps."

I also chatted with some of the IFBB Pro League athletes who had major stories in bodybuilding news this year. IFBB Pro Daryl Gee was riding a meteoric rise to the Olympia stage. "It's been a crazy whirlwind of a ride for me. I took Overall at the LA Championships on July 18th. It was my return. I hadn't competed since the 2005 Nationals. A week later, I went to the USA's with momentum from that show, where I won the Middleweight Class and earned my pro card. A week later, I made my pro debut at the Jacksonville Pro. I took 2nd and qualified for the Olympia. I went from NPC amateur to Olympia-qualified pro in 2 weeks. I think I may be the first bodybuilder to do that."

Regarding the 202 Showdown, Gee said, "I think moving parts on the competition to the Finals is a step in the right direction and shows the popularity of the 202 Division with the exposure they're giving to it. Now they just need to up the prize money. There's a big difference between the Open and the 202 prizes. But I'm just happy to be here, driven by adrenaline and excitement. I couldn't dream this any better."

IFBB Pro Troy Alves, who turned 43 years old over the Olympia Weekend, won his first pro contest this year. "After years of placing Top 5 in shows, I felt like I finally got my just due," Alves said. "I see myself competing for 2-3 more years, and that will be the end for me, but I want to be at a high level on the way out. My goal is to have three nutrition stores in the Arizona area and just enjoy life out of the limelight. I'm excited about my new DVD, coming in November. It's got a lot of energy and in-depth look into my personality. When I look at clips from it, I'm ready to go workout."

OLYMPIA EXPO
At the Olympia Expo, people received autographed physique photos of fitness celebs and bodybuilding pros. Olympians, sports stars and promotional models posed for pictures and passed out products and paraphernalia.

For another year, the Las Vegas Convention Center was the gathering place for an international pack of muscle-heads, fitness models, and bodybuilding fans for a bonanza of self-promotion and product giveaways. A slew of fitness and strength events were staged for the crowd's enjoyment. The highlights included a powerlifting challenge, strongman challenge, and bikini model search.

IFBB Pro Johnnie Jackson has been called "The World's Strongest Bodybuilder" and verified this by setting a record-breaking lift at a powerlifting meet in June. IFBB Pro Ben White had a problem with Jackson's claiming of this title and challenged him in the first "Duel in the Desert: World's Strongest Bodybuilder Lift Off." Jackson emerged victorious.

In addition to the stars of the bodybuilding world, celebs from other segments of the sports-entertainment industry made appearances, including WWE pro wrestlers Brock Lesnar, Hulk Hogan, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

ANDREW OYE'S VERDICT
While the focus is on the IFBB Pro League athletes contending for the Sandow trophies and Mr. Olympia titles won by IFBB Pro Larry Scott, IFBB Pro Sergio Oliva, IFBB Pro Arnold Schwarzenegger, IFBB Pro Frank Zane, IFBB Pro Samir Bannout, IFBB Pro Franco Columbu, IFBB Pro Lee Haney, IFBB Pro Ronnie Coleman, IFBB Pro Dorian Yates, IFBB Pro Dexter Jackson and IFBB Pro Jay Cutler, other events energize the event as well. The Olympia Expo and the other events on the Olympia weekend schedule provide the opportunity to interact with athletes in the physique sports, strength sports, combat sports who also know the inner-workings of the gym that produces the bodies that sweep the Olympia stage.

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