The Olympia Weekend is recognized as the most significant show in bodybuilding. The main event is the Mr. Olympia (Men’s Open) contest. The 59th edition of the Mr. Olympia takes place Nov. 3-4 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.
Twenty-four bodybuilders have qualified for the competition, but only 21 are expected to take the stage. The full roster of qualified athletes for the Men’s Open competition is below in the order they qualified:
2023 Mr. Olympia Roster
- Brett Wilkin (USA) — will not compete
- Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay (Egypt) — will not compete
- Hadi Choopan (Iran)
- Derek Lunsford (USA)
- Nick Walker (USA)
- Brandon Curry (USA)
- Samson Dauda (United Kingdom)
- Behrooz Tabani (Iran)
- Tonio Burton (USA)
- Ross Flanigan (USA)
- Iain Valliere (Canada) — will not compete
- Michal Krizanek (Slovakia)
- Phil Clahar (USA)
- Andrea Presti (Italy)
- Hassan Mostafa (Egypt)
- Justin Shier (USA)
- Roman Fritz (Germany)
- Hunter Labrada (USA)
- Chinedu Andrew Obiekea (Andrew Jacked) (UAE)
- Kamal Elgargni (Libya)
- Nathan De Asha (United Kingdom)
- Regan Grimes (Canada)
- Theo Leguerrier (France)
- Charles Griffen (USA)
How to Qualify
There were four ways to qualify for the Olympia. Past champions are qualified for the same division for life. Beyond that, the top five finishers of the Men’s Open from the previous year were automatically eligible to compete the following year. Athletes who didn’t meet either criterion had to win a pro show before the cutoff date of Oct. 9, 2023.
The final way to compete in the Olympia is via a special invite that can be offered by the Olympia promoters or the IFBB Pro League. 2022 Mr. Olympia runner-up Derek Lunsford entered the 2022 contest via a special invite. No invites have been offered for the 2023 Mr. Olympia as of Oct. 12, 2023.
Athletes Not Competing
Three competitors who qualified for the 2023 Mr. Olympia have since withdrawn from the contest. The first is Iain Valliere, who announced his retirement from competitive bodybuilding in early September 2023. Former two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay bowed out in September 2023 as well to focus on physique development and recovery.
Brett Wilkin withdrew due to health issues on Oct. 9, 2023, leaving 21 athletes left to take the stage in Orlando. 2023 Masters Olympia winner Kamal Elgargni also qualified for the Olympia 212 contest as a past 212 champion. It’s not confirmed which contest he will enter at the time of this article’s publication.
With Elssbiay out of the lineup, two past Mr. Olympia champions remain in the lineup. Defending champion Hadi Choopan is considered by many experts as the favorite to defend the title. The other champion is 2019 Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry, who finished the 2022 Olympia in fourth overall. Both athletes are likely first callouts during pre-judging on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023.
If neither Choopan nor Curry wins the title, then the winner of this contest will be the 18th Mr. Olympia. 2021 212 Olympia champion Derek Lunsford was the runner-up to Choopan in 2022. He looks to become the first athlete ever to win the Olympia in two different divisions.
The 2022 Mr. Olympia bronze medalist was 2021 Arnold Classic champion Nick Walker, who hasn’t been shy about proclaiming himself as the next champion. He’s consistently active on YouTube and social media to share his progress throughout his prep.
Walker’s most recent contest was the 2023 Arnold Classic, finishing second to champion Samson Dauda. Traditionally, the Arnold Classic champion has been considered a top contender for the Olympia as well. Dauda ranked sixth overall at the 2022 Olympia but has shown great improvement since then.
Competitors on the Brink
The goal of the top contenders is to win the title, but there are other athletes who need to make the first callout before they can eye the number one spot. Among them are Hunter Labrada and Andrew Jacked.
Labrada ranked fourth in the 2021 Mr. Olympia but fell to seventh in 2022. He’s coming off a win at the 2023 Tampa Pro but finished with the silver behind Jacked at the 2023 Texas Pro. The pair jockey for position in elite contests as Jacked finished in eighth place at the 2022 Olympia in Las Vegas, NV — one spot behind Labrada. They’ll continue to try and one-up each other in Orlando for a spot in the first callout.
After dominating the IFBB Elite Pro circuit for several years, Michal “Krizo” Krizanek made his Olympia debut one year ago, finishing in 12th place. If his conditioning can match his size, he could disrupt the plans of a lot of his onstage rivals.
Nathan De Asha is expected to make his first Olympia appearance since 2018. He was a top-10 finisher in 2017 and 2018 but hasn’t faced many of the elite competitors who will be in Orlando. His shape and posing can send him up the placings in a hurry.
There are some contenders with outside shots of winning the show, but a more likely is the potential to finish in the top 10, which would be a major stride in their careers. Regan Grimes is one of those athletes. Formerly a Classic Physique competitor, Grimes grew and shifted to the Men’s Open division. He remains one of the smaller men in the lineup despite being huge by any other metric but has an exceptionally great shape and proportions to match.
Hassan Mostafa has ranked as high as 13th in the Olympia in 2021. He’s added size and improved his conditioning since then and could climb the ladder into the top 10.
Charles Griffin displayed the best version of his physique at his 2023 Legion Sports Fest win on Oct. 8, 2023. If any of the previously mentioned athletes are off, Griffen can move past them in the standings.
Don’t sleep on 2023 New York Pro champion Tonio Burton. The former 212 competitor has added quality size to his frame and is an excellent poser.
Behrooz Tabani, Ross Flanigan, Phil Clahar, Justin Shier, and Roman Fritz will make their Olympia debuts in Orlando. It is anyone’s guess where they will rank, but the competition has never been steeper.
We’ve seen Olympia rookies fail to make the top 15. However, we’ve seen competitors like Jacked make it securely into the top 10 in their Olympia debut. The only certainty about Olympia debuts is nothing is certain.
Fans who can’t be in Orlando to see the Olympia live can still watch the action live via the Olympia Productions pay-per-view. Stay tuned to BarBend for the latest news and developments leading up to the 2023 Olympia Weekend, including previews for each of the 11 contested IFBB divisions.
Featured Image: @hadi_choopan on Instagram