Mr Olympia is the most decorated title in bodybuilding. The purpose of establishing Mr Olympia in the year 1965 was to bring together on stage the winners from other top shows to judge who amongst them is the champions of the champions. So all the contestants standing on the Mr Olympia stage are not just randomly chosen by taking a participation fee rather they’re all the winners of some of the biggest bodybuilding shows in the world for that year. Now because Mr Olympia comes under the IFBB, only shows as approved by IFBB are taken into consideration when selecting who is to stand on the stage. This answer another question people have- Why is just getting to stand on the Mr Olympia stage such a big deal. Because it means you won some other show prior to it. Getting back to our original topic, now that you know who are the contestants the next question arises how many of them are there?
There is no fixed number of contestant in Mr Olympia. It has varied from year to year. As of 2019, there were 16 competitors in the men’s open category the winner of which is awarded the Mr Olympia title. In 2018, there were 19 competitors and in 2017 there were 18 competitors. All in all, it can be said Mr Olympia doesn’t have a fixed number of participants. Interestingly, it is not the case with the positions or the rank awarded. 16 is the last position so there can be more than 1 person with the position 16. In 2018, Justin Luis Rodriguez, Juan Morel and Josh Wade all secured the 16th position. More interestingly, there has been a year with only 1 participant and the bodybuilder stood unopposed on the stage.
The year of uncontested Mr Olympia
1968 Mr Olympia
Sergio Oliva defended his title in the 1968 Mr Olympia unopposed. Other competitors were expected to be there but owing to some reason or the other all of them withdrew. The other contestants expected there were Dave Draper, Harold Poole and Chuck Sipes. Harold Poole couldn’t make it due to job commitments. Dave Draper, on the other hand, was film making. Chuck Sipes withdrew as his body had already taken the toil of winning the Mr World and performing Strongman activities the same day. Instead, Chuck Sipes became a spectator as he watched Sergio Oliva go about his posing routine on the stage. The show was disappointing for the fans who had accumulated to watch them. However, after witnessing a bigger and more muscular Sergio from last year the audience was left in awe of the freakish proportions displayed by the bodybuilder. The title was his anyway had there been a contestant on the stage against him.
For those who are wondering how could someone let go of such a prestigious competition for other commitments? Well, bodybuilding wasn’t much of a show back in the day as it is now. Neither did it receive much of attention from the general public nor did it let bodybuilders make enough money to support their living. So bodybuilding was more of a side job and passion. Today however things have changed and some can go be full time professionals at the sport.
The battle between the two: 1969 Mr Olympia
Sergio Oliva vs Arnold Schwarzenegger
The 1969 Mr Olympia witnessed an addition of one more contestant as opposed to its previous year’s Mr Olympia. This Mr Olympia saw some notable events taking place. It was Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s first Mr Olympia ever and his only Mr Olympia where he got defeated. After this whatever Mr Olympia Arnold participated in, he won. It was also the year where Sergio Oliva went for a hat-trick and won his third title. The show was one of the greatest ever as the two biggest bodybuilders on the planet went head to toe. Sergio had a considerable amount of muscle mass accompanied by an elegant posing routine to top it off. The crowd was full of Sergio supporters however they applauded well for Arnold’s first time on stage. Schwarzenegger was a bigger bodybuilder compared to Sergio at the time because of his height. His legendary side chest post bought in everyone’s eye to the stage as he performed it. After a fierce battle of posedown between the two bodybuilders Sergio was given a one-point lead which paved the way for his third Mr Olympia title win.