On July 10, 2022, OlympiaTV Director Terrick El Guindy posed a “controversial” question to Chief Olympia Officer Dan Solomon regarding reigning 212 Olympia champion Derek Lunsford. The question is prefaced by Guindy running through previous 212 Olympia competitors who have moved up into the Men’s Open division, including William Bonac and Hadi Choopan, who have ranked second and third, respectively, in the Mr. Olympia contest.
Should [Derek Lunsford] go to the Open [or] stay in 212? Is there anything that you would suggest to him as an insider in the business?
Solomon qualifies his response, stating that Lunsford’s “situation is more unique than any other.” Solomon’s full response to the question was filmed and published to the OlympiaTV YouTube channel. Check it out below:
[Related: 3-Time Men’s Physique Arnold Classic Winner Ryan Terry’s Chest & Triceps Workout]
Given that Lunsford acquired the 212 Olympia in 2021, ousting then champion Shaun Clarida from the throne. Solomon points out that Lunsford hasn’t yet had the opportunity to defend the title. His first chance will be at the 2022 Olympia on Dec. 16-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV.
The concern Solomon has for Lunsford is health-related. Although he assured viewers that Lunsford is healthy, he suggests that Lunsford is “nowhere near 212 at this point.”
Derek is much bigger than 212. What does he have to put his body through to get under 212 pounds?
This is the caveat of the 212 and Classic Physique divisions. Unlike Men’s Open, which has no weight cap, Classic Physique athletes have a weight cap based on their height, and 212 athletes are all capped at 212 pounds. Although Lunsford stands at 5’6″, he is so muscularly dense that cutting weight to remain within the limits of his division is a concern for Solomon.
We’ve communicated on the viability and the safety of [Lunsford] getting under that weight.
Given the pace at which Lunsford has packed muscle mass onto his frame, Solomon notes how rare of a scenario it is that a reigning Olympia champion may not be able to defend their title due to not making weight.
View this post on Instagram
[Related: James Hollingshead Set to Compete in 2022 Yamamoto Pro and Arnold Classic UK]
Were Lunsford to move into the Men’s Open division, Solomon believes he would be a legitimate contender, or “at least be in the mix,” for the Mr. Olympia title. Solomon has heard from others in his circle that they feel Lunsford has the best back in the world regardless of division.
“If it comes to a point where we have to evaluate an invitation to compete in the [Men’s Open],” Solomon suggests, “that’s tough because if he doesn’t get that opportunity, he might not be able to be in the show. There might not be a place for him. The question for us becomes, ‘Do we want to put on an Olympia without Derek Lunsford?'”
While the conversation of Lunsford viability in the Olympia has not come up among the contest’s organizers, it is on Solomon’s radar. We’ll see if Lunsford’s “unique” situation compels a move to compete against the likes of Brandon Curry and two-time reigning Mr. Olympia champion Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay, or if Lunsford will get to stay the course and attempt a defense of his 212 crown.
Featured image: @dansolomon_official on Instagram