by Geoff Roberts
Now that Phil Heath has won his sixth Sandow in dominating fashion, the question becomes: how many can he win? More specifically, can Phil break the all time Olympia wins record of eight, set by the great Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman? Unfortunately for every other bodybuilder who is not nicknamed “The Gift”, the evidence tells us that Phil will more than likely break this record on his way to winning at least nine straight Sandows. This evidence is based on three simple facts: Phil has won easily every year, there are no breakout young stars who can challenge Phil, and Phil’s young age in relation to his six Sandows.
Despite what some people may feel or believe, Phil beats every other guy on the Olympia stage right now by a fairly large margin. In fact, in the six shows that Phil has won, he received all first place votes with the exception of one at the 2015 prejudging going to Shawn Rhoden. What this really means is that the current crop of guys at the pinnacle of our sport is simply not good enough to beat Phil. This current crop of top contenders includes Kai Greene, Shawn Rhoden, Dexter Jackson, and Dennis Wolf. These five guys have been Phil’s top threats for half a decade now, to no avail. The odds of any of them suddenly besting Phil are extraordinarily low.
Kai refuses to compete, so he’s out. Shawn is much older than Phil and while technically he has come closer to beating Phil than any other contender, I question if there is anything more he can do at over 40 years old. Dexter Jackson at 47 years old, will never beat Phil. It simply does not make any sense to think that he can. Not only because of his age, but for the simple fact that Phil is essentially Dexter 2.0. Dennis Wolf has never even made it to the runner up spot and he is now coming off a very serious injury. Not going to happen. Cedric McMillan and Roelly Winklaar have also failed miserably at defeating Phil over the last several years. It’s going to take a brand new guy or crop of guys to take down The Gift.
That brings us to our next fact: there are no super dangerous young guys coming up who can challenge Phil. There are many very good young guys out there right now, no doubt about that. The problem is they are potential top three guys, not potential Phil slayers. Big difference. Justin Compton was touted to be the next Phil slayer back in 2013. Unfortunately, while he has gotten much larger, he really hasn’t improved very much since that time. I cannot see a scenario in which Justin beats Phil unless Phil shows up in a body cast. Josh Lenartowicz is on the up and up, but he does not have the goods to challenge Phil. His arms, flow, and muscle shape will always look sub par when standing next to Phil. William Bonac is unbelievable. Unfortunately he is five foot five inches tall. Whether it is right or wrong, no man that height will never best Phil.
Dallas McCarver has exceptional potential and possesses that classic “Future Mr. Olympia” look. The same kind of look Evan Centopani, Ben Pakulski and Steve Kuclo used to garner that same compliment. The Problem is, not only did none of these guys win the Olympia, but they failed to even make top five at the big dance. Dallas may be very different from those three guys, but if history tells us anything, Dallas will do great, but he does not have Mr. Olympia pedigree. Nathan De Asha is a phenomenal young talent who does seem to have the physical gifts required to battle Phil. However, his poor placing at this years Mr. Olympia is good evidence that Phil has nothing to worry about as it pertains to Nathan. At least not for a few years.
As we speak, Phil’s number one contender is Big Ramy. Ramy is the only guy competing at the moment who has any hopeful chance of taking the champ down. That said, Ramy’s best placing at the Olympia is forth. It’s hard to accept the possibility of the fourth place finisher from 2016 defeating the undisputed winner of that show anytime soon. Ramy was touted as a possible winner of the 2013 Mr. Olympia leading into the show. It’s been three years now and he still has not even managed to crack the top three. If Ramy comes into the 2017 or 2018 Olympia 100% spot on and Phil comes in off the mark, it is possible that Phil loses his title. However, I would not bet on both of these scenarios meeting on the same day and the judges taking the title from Phil.
In regards to breaking the all time record of Olympia wins, while Phil’s competition is obviously the main factor, age is also a major factor in a sport like bodybuilding. Therein lies the third reason that Phil has a great chance of winning nine Sandows. Phil is a lot younger than people seem to realize. He is only 36 years old and he already has six Olympia victories. This means that if Phil does in fact make it to nine wins, he will be only 39 years old when he does so. Ronnie Coleman was 42 years old at his attempt for a ninth Sandow in 2006. In any sport that is hard on the body such as bodybuilding, the difference between 39 and 42 from a performance perspective, is massive. There is no significant reason to believe that Phil will deteriorate at a younger age than Ronnie.
In fact, there is good evidence going in the other direction, which points to Phil lasting longer than Ronnie did. For example, Phil was late to the party in bodybuilding.The Gift was already well into his 20’s when he began bodybuilding. While Ronnie was also a late bloomer in bodybuilding, he was power lifting and playing football at a high level from the age of 16 or 17. In other words, Ronnie had a few more miles on his physique at 36 than Phil does now. Assuming Phil remains great until age 41 just as Ronnie did, the Sandow will not be taken from Phil until he wins an astonishing eleven times. Based on the evidence, I think it is safe to say that not only does Phil have a good chance to break the all time Olympia wins record, but it would be downright foolhardy to bet against it.