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by Joe Pietaro

Just a Few Realistic Threats To Heath

Throughout its 50-year history, the Mr. Olympia contest has crowned 13 different champions. This year, Phil Heath is the favorite to retain the title and join an elite club with at least four consecutive Sandows. With less than three months to go, “The Gift” will not have an easy path, but should be able to hold off a line-up that is made up of competitors he has bested before and only a few of them are potential threats.

Kai Greene has left Las Vegas the last two years as the runner-up and probably had his best chance to unseat Heath in 2012. The Brooklyn resident took a step back last September and Dennis Wolf could have easily finished second instead of third. The massive German seems to be hitting his prime but is still not as symmetrical as Heath.

One contender who is perhaps even more symmetrical than the champion is Shawn Rhoden, but he lacks the size needed to win in this line-up. After placing third and fourth, respectively, the last two years, the jury is still out if Flexatron can rise above that landscape.

The ageless Dexter Jackson is always in the mix to make the pose down and should do so again at 44. The 2008 Olympia winner has maintained excellent conditioning and probably would have even more hardware if he was taller and tacked on some extra mass.

Without Jay Cutler – who received a very gracious sixth place last year – in the line-up, will Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay jump up two placings? Credit must be given to him for recovering from an infection that required hospitalization and doing what it took to successfully defend his New York Pro title, but Big Ramy nearly had to sit that show out and will not be a factor here as far as even cracking the top three.

After that, the competitors are worthy of being up on the Olympia stage but not quite ready to make the top six. Juan Morel and Steve Kuclo are still young and have a long way to go (as is Jon DeLarosa, who led the Olympia qualification points standings with 16 at the time of this writing), and then there are Branch Warren and Victor Martinez (nine points), who are at the tail end of their respective impressive careers.

So when you look at it objectively, Heath merely has to come in looking the way he did in 2013 to have his name carved next to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dorian Yates (six consecutive), as well as Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman (eight). At 34 years of age, he still has a lot of mileage left.

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