To caveat this article right off the bat, not all the news I would like to discuss happened in the past week. But it has been some time since I looked into any bodybuilding news, so it’s about time I had a look back at some of the recent hot button events in the sport.
The Death of Shawn Rhoden
We begin on a somber note unfortunately. 2018 Mr. Olympia Shawn Rhoden passed away this week due to a heart attack. Fans and athletes alike have been mourning his death ever since. Rhoden was always a fan favorite, known for being a quiet and humble man away from the stage, and a classy performer on it. Rhoden was a perennial top placer at the Olympia, and 2018 was his crowning achievement as he ended Phil Heath’s 7 year run as the champion following years of placing 2nd-4th. Unfortunately for Shawn, he has been unable to compete since his title win as a result of ongoing legal issues surrounding a rape accusation. That is a news story in and of itself that dates back a few years now, and a detail I have no intention of touching on.
What I hope he is remembered for, however, is his commitment to his sport, his reputation for being a great father and for being one of the nicest guys in the industry according to everyone who met him. Rest In Peace Shawn Rhoden.
Shaun Clarida wins his open debut
2020 212 Mr. Olympia Shaun Clarida recently competed in the open division at the Legion Sports Fest in Reno, Nevada. This story becomes notable when we consider a few details. First, Shaun is only 5’2”, and weighed in at 174 pounds before the show. He beat competitors like Sergio Oliva Jr., who is 6’ tall and weigh in at 100 pounds heavier than him. Also, the Legion Sports Fest was an Olympia qualifier event, meaning that by winning the show, Shaun is now qualified to compete in the 212 and Open Olympia shows, which would make him the first in history if he were to take on the challenge. They run almost simultaneously, which would mean Shaun would not have to peak for two separate shows, and he clearly has prowess in both divisions. This win has stirred up some controversy as well, with IFBB Elite Pro Michal Krizo, known for being the best bodybuilder competing outside of the IFBB Pro League (the organization that runs the Mr. Olympia, the Arnold Classic and any other big shows I write about) talking trash at Clarida, essentially calling him a joke and not a real competitor. I patiently await the day we could see Krizo come over and compete in the IFBB Pro League and fulfill such a matchup.
Samson Dauda Wins Olympia Qualification
Samson Dauda, one of Britain’s most promising bodybuilders, finally won his Olympia qualification for 2022 after multiple failed attempts. He won last weekend’s Prague Pro, beating out a fairly stacked lineup including Roelly Winklaar, Nathan De Asha, Regan Grimes and Rafael Brandao. This is no mean feat when we consider that Winklaar is among the best of the past generation, De Asha had won 3 shows in a row prior to Prague, Grimes had just won at the KO Pro in Egypt and Brandao has one of the most aesthetically pleasing massive physiques in the men’s open category.
On a related note, this was Rafael Brandao’s first show in around 18 months time, and he was very impressive. Rafael is known for his aesthetic structure as I’ve just mentioned, and brought a great package with the typical small waist, impressive V-taper, crazy round arms and giant quads. But the impressive aspect here is that he had previously had to take a number of months off due to having COVID and a number of quarantine restrictions. Brandao is Brazilian, and as we all know, Brazil was hit very hard by the virus. Thus for him to be able to recover, put all the size back on that he had lost and nearly win a show (in the space of about 6 months) is wildly impressive.
Roelly’s career coming to an end?
Among the stories that came out of the Prague Pro was Roelly Winklaar’s poor placing. He took 5th at this show, which wouldn’t be too upsetting if he was a new pro trying to break through to the Olympia stage. But this is Roelly Winklaar we’re talking about; he is known for always being in and around the conversation for top placings. This year alone, he has finished 5th in Chicago, 5th at the Arnold, 11th at the Olympia (his lowest in years), 2nd to Nathan De Asha twice (while it is no knock on Nathan, a prime Roelly would have never lost to him), and now come fifth at a mid-tier European show. Given Roelly’s age and evident decline, it is safe to ask: is this the end of Roelly? He is 46 after all, an age at which no bodybuilder bar dexter Jackson seems to be able to bring a decent package to the stage. He has also slipped mightily at the Olympia. In 2018, when Shawn Rhoden won, Roelly was 3rd and had a credible argument for beating Phil Heath to 2nd. In 2021, as we’ve established, he didn’t even crack the top 10, and finished below the likes of guys who would never have touched him even two years ago.
Now, we ought to keep in mind that COVID has affected Roelly as hard if not harder than it did Rafael Brandao. Roelly is from Curacao, a country whose restrictions prevented him from training at all for months in 2020-2021. He really only trained for 3-4 months prior to his return to competition, and given how frequently he is competing, has not had time to shut it down and go through a proper training camp. So perhaps there is hope after all.