Who is this year’s Olympia Sleeper?


by Matt Meinrod

It’s getting down to crunch time for this year’s class of Mr. Olympia competitors. In one month, the world’s best bodybuilders will be reconvening in Las Vegas for what many are saying is the most competitive contest the bodybuilding world has seen since Ronnie Coleman captured his first Sandow trophy in 1998. Just like in 1998, we may see a competitor come out of the woodwork and thrust themselves into relevancy. Coleman did it; Cutler did it; and most recently, Shawn Rhoden did it after finishing in a somewhat shocking 3rd place last year. Who will be this year’s sleeper competitor and come from the back of the pack and into the forefront amongst the industries best and brightest?

The easy answer to this question would be the Colossus from Kuwait: Big Ramy. My apologies for sounding a bit too much like Lonnie Teper with that last comment. Ramy is nothing short of a killer sand storm. The trouble with him is that he’s only competed one time as an IFBB professional bodybuilder. How many times have we seen somebody come in looking great one show and then look like an absolute disaster in the next? Roelly Winklaar, Dennis Wolf, Lionel Beyeke, and even Branch Warren come to mind. That’s not to say the glass can’t be half full with Ramy. He could easily come in 10% harder and sharper like his coach Dennis James is saying. If that happens, not only will he be the sleeper of the show, but Ramy will also be the new 2013 Mr. Olympia champion.

Just for arguments sake, let’s pretend that Ramy isn’t ‘The Guy’ at this year’s competition—he misses his mark and falls somewhere between 5th and 8th place. Is there somebody else who could step in and crack the top 3? I have a hard time believing that even an ‘off’ Phil Heath or Kai Greene could be beaten by a 100% Evan Centopani; But with that in mind, I do believe that if Jay Cutler isn’t looking immaculate Evan might have what it takes to officially stake claim as a Tier I bodybuilder. He looked dynamite at the Tampa Pro where I felt he took home a convincing win over Essa Obiad. I told Evan after the show he was a run-away train in Tampa and everyone else was vying for 2nd and 3rd and it turned out to be true. I’d like to believe Evan didn’t shoot his load early in Tampa and left plenty in the tank for the Olympia. His posing and presentation was much improved from 2012 and didn’t over diet which had been his MO in previous contests. In recent years Centopani couldn’t get out of his own way. He would diet himself out of the top 3 at the Arnold and later at the Olympia. With Chris Aceto in his corner it could prove to be the missing link towards reaching his potential.

Depending on how this show shapes up it will either be a show of freaks, which it typically is, or it could be a show of aesthetically pleasing physiques. If it’s mass monsters we’ll see Phil, Ramy, Kai, Jay, Wolf, and Centopani at the top of the leader board; but it could go in a different direction all together. It’s much easier for smaller, more streamlined athletes to their nail conditioning than it is for the big water buffalos. Phil could see himself up against Rhoden, Dexter Jackson, or Victor Martinez if the big boys slip a little bit in this final month of prep. If that’s the case I am never one to count out 4x Arnold Classic champ and 2008 Mr. Olympia Dexter Jackson from the discussion of Sleeper and serious threat to not only enter the top 3 placing’s, but also make a serious run at Heath. It sounds crazy, but The Blade keeps improving even at the ripe old age of 43. Plus, we saw what he did in 08 when Jay came in ‘off.’

If it’s going to happen, look for Ramy, Evan, or Dexter to make a big push this year. Neither of them may win the show and take home the title of #14, but cracking the top 3 is game changing. Just ask Shawn Rhoden.