Early into the 2022 bodybuilding calendar, Olympia owner Jake Wood discussed the likely return of the Masters Olympia — which debuted in 1994, paused from 2004-2011, and was last held in 2012. No other formal details have been revealed at the time of this article’s publication, but the possibility is enough to elate fans and competitors.
Part of the fun is speculating on which competitors may dust off their posing trunks for a shot at the Masters Olympia title. And it appears that Australian Bodybuilding legend Lee Priest, despite not having competed since winning the 2013 NABBA Universe title, is teasing his return. On March 9, 2022, the 49-year old’s physique updates were shared on Nick’s Strength and Power YouTube channel. Check it out below:
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Priest’s potential return to an IFBB Pro League stage would excite fans of all ages. For those who followed Priest during his active career, the return of “The Blond Myth” would be a dose of nostalgia. Fresher Priest fans know him for his commentary on social media and would be interested to see him go pose-for-pose with other legends on the Masters Olympia stage.
The original photos of Priest were posted on Species Nutrition’s Instagram page. “Follow the Australian bodybuilding legend’s journey to a truly astonishing physique transformation,” the post reads. It’s implied that this is the start of Priest’s transformation; a specific end date wasn’t provided.
Lee Priest’s Bodybuilding Career
According to Muscle Memory, Lee Andrew McCutcheon won the 1989 and 1990 Australian Championships. He ended his amateur career by placing fourth at the 1990 World Amateur Championships. It would be three years before he made his IFBB (now known as the IFBB Pro League) debut at the 1993 Niagara Falls Pro Invitational, where he placed ninth overall. It was his only appearance that season.
In 1994, Priest was invited to compete in the Arnold Classic for the first time. Kevin Levrone won the title; Priest placed seventh. Then, Priest competed in four more shows, placing as high as fourth at the Ironman Pro.
It would be three more years before Priest competed on the Mr. Olympia stage. His debut in the 1997 Olympia resulted in a sixth-place finish. Dorian Yates won his sixth and final Sandow at that contest. Still, Priest placed higher than several big names of that era, including Chris Cormier (eighth), Ronnie Coleman (ninth), and 1995 Arnold Classic Champion Mike Francois (11th).
In that era, athletes could qualify for the Olympia by placing in the top three or five of other shows, depending on the contest. And so Priest became a fixture at the Olympia for several years.
Priest didn’t secure his first professional win until 2002 at the San Francisco Pro. He placed sixth at the Olympia that year — his final Olympia appearance. (Coleman won that show for his fifth of eight Olympia titles.)
Priest’s last full season in the IFBB Pro League was 2005. He started the season by placing second at the Ironman Pro and fourth at the Arnold Classic. His second pro victory came on his home turf at the 2005 Grand Prix Australia.
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2006 was considered the most famous and controversial year of Priest’s career. He won the Ironman Pro, took sixth at the Arnold Classic, and a close second-place finish to Ronny Rockel at the Grand Prix Australia.
However, in the middle of that year, he aligned with Wayne Demilia — the founder Pro Division Inc. (PDI). Priest won that league’s Night of Champions contest and the Night of Champions Britain contest. The Night of Champions show was previously an IFBB event, which eventually evolved into the New York Pro.
After the PDI folded, Priest didn’t compete again until he was invited to enter the 2013 NABBA Universe, where he won the short category and overall titles. As of this writing, that was his last competitive appearance. Priest stayed involved as a contributor to various podcasts and videos through RxMuscle.
In 2014, Priest was involved in a car accident that resulted in a neck injury. Subsequent nerve damage forced Priest to undergo multiple surgeries, which prevented him from training for a long time. However, he recovered enough that he could resume training in recent years. Whether Priest returns to the stage in the future is unclear, but his photos certainly piqued the interest of many bodybuilding fans.
Featured Image: @speciesnutrition on Instagram