Arnold Classic - Sports Festival 2014
What event could possibly surpass that of the Winter Olympics, you ask? It’s called the Arnold Sports Festival, the largest multisport event in the world. With sports ranging from MMA to gymnastics and judo to the strongman. It is being held in Columbus, Ohio, from Friday, February 28, 2014 through Sunday, March 3, 2014. More athletes compete in the Arnold event than in the Olympics, and approximately 200,000 visitors from all over the world will brave the chill to visit the event in central Ohio.
One sport takes priority over all others at the festival - bodybuilding. And why not? After all, the event is named after “The Terminator” himself – Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he said he “would be back,” he certainly meant it in a big way!
At its heart is one of the world's leading bodybuilding events, the Arnold Classic. The Arnold Classic is considered one of the top two bodybuilding competitions, as well as the most lucrative competition in bodybuilding, with a number of large prizes. Most notably, first prize consists of a $130,000 check, a Hummer vehicle, and an Audemars Piguet watch. The Arnold Classic rivals the Mr. Olympia in prestige and popularity. Like most bodybuilding competitions it is always hotly contested, and often only one or two competition points will separate the winners.
The Arnold Classic is among one of the most attended competitive events in the Arnold Sports Festival, and comprises of amateur bodybuilding competitions by both men and women.
Each year, Festival promoters, James Lorimer and ex-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger bestow a Lifetime Achievement Award to a person who has made a significant impact in the fitness industry.
In 2013 Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Liftetime Achievement Award was presented to Rich Gaspari, winner of the inaugural Arnold Classic in 1989 and founder of the lucrative supplement company, Gaspari Nutrition.
Why Columbus, Ohio?
Many major cities all over the world have been trying to incite the Arnold Classic to move over to their part of the globe, yet it remains a pillar of Columbus, Ohio. But why? This is where the story behind Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous saying, “I’ll be back” comes in.
In 1970, Jim Lorimer, from Columbus, Ohio was coordinating the World Weightlifting championships in his hometown. At the time Lorimer was also the Vice-President of Nationwide Insurance, but his sideline was to promote sports events.
Lorimer was trying to coordinate both a bodybuilding and a weightlifting championship, and invited distinguished competitors from around the globe to participate. However, his goal was to have a then unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger be a part of the competition. Unfortunately, Arnold was in London, England, at the time, and was not available to be in Columbus, Ohio on the day of the event. No problem. Lorimer sent a plane to London to pick him up. At the competition Schwarzenegger went on to take first place!
A grateful Schwarzenegger has always considered that win in Columbus to be the beginning of his rise to the top, and he was also quite impressed with Lorimer's professionalism and courtesy, not to mention how well organized the event in Columbus had been. Before he left town, he met with Lorimer and said, "When I retire from bodybuilding, I'll be back, and you and I will put together a major bodybuilding competition right here, every year."
In 1975 Schwarzenegger contacted Lorimer, and in 1976 they worked together to organize the first Mr. Olympia championship. Mr. Olympia then ran for five years in a row, followed by the Mr. World and Mr. Universe contest. In 1989 Schwarzenegger launched the Arnold Classic, named after himself.
It wasn’t long before the Arnold Classic expanded to accommodate several hundred booths and thousands of Schwarzenegger fans. Schwarzenegger is known for surprising his fans with unscheduled appearances, and other celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone have been known to make surprise appearances as well.
Because of the demand worldwide, Lorimer and Schwarzenegger are "globalizing" the Arnold Sports Festival franchise. A European version of the festival has taken place in Madrid for the past two years, and this year in April, one will open in Brazil. Places as diverse as China, Australia, Russia and Singapore have also expressed interest, but Lorimer and Schwarzenegger have decided to expand their business model slowly. And they are committed to staying in Columbus.
Perhaps the life philosophy of the two is best summed up from a quote they jointly chose to appear on a permanent statue of Schwarzenegger that was unveiled at last year's sports festival and stands in front of Veterans Memorial, the venue where the Arnold Classic takes place.
It reads, "Life's joy is in the doing." After all, getting things done is what these two men of action do best.
Arnold Classic Bodybuilding Schedule
Shawn Rhoden, Victor Martinez and Brandon Curry, who have each won an Arnold Classic international title in the past three years, lead a deep field of 13 men’s professional bodybuilders who will battle in the 2014 Arnold Classic.
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