The Mr. Olympia Facebook page had a new post on Monday morning that announced that the Ms. Olympia contest will make its return to the Olympia weekend in 2020. The announcement was accompanied by a short video that included past images of previous contests.
This contest will be the fifth female division added to the annual weekend’s festivities. The others are women’s physique, figure, fitness, and bikini. While it’s the latest to join the Olympia after its hiatus, it was actually originally the first female division in bodybuilding history.
Ms. Olympia: 1980-2014
The first Ms. Olympia took place in 1980 with its inaugural champion being Rachel McLish. She was considered the first female fitness star of the women’s era. The next star to emerge would be Cory Everson who win six titles in a row and retire in 1989 as the only woman to retire undefeated in professional competition.
In the 1990’s Lenda Murry and Kim Chizevski would lead the way for the division along with Bev Francis. Francis is best-known to modern fans as the owner of the gym in Syosset, New York, which bears her name.
After the turn of the century, the Fitness division was coming into its own but the Ms. Olympia contest was still the top contest for women. Murray would eventually win 8 titles before being dethroned by Iris Kyle.
Kyle was considered the last major star of the division and would go to win 10 Olympia titles, the most for anyone male or female. With other divisions like Figure, Bikini, and Women’s Physique emerging and gaining more popularity, the IFBB Pro League opted to discontinue the competition after Kyle’s retirement in 2014.
Rising Phoenix World Championships
Wings of Strength, a company and sponsor focusing on women’s bodybuilding, created the Rising Phoenix World Championships which then became the top contest for women’s bodybuilding. In the five years since, there has been a growing return of interest in the division and its athletes. The 2019 Champion of this event is Helle Trevino.
As of this writing, there is no word on how qualifying for the Ms. Olympia will be determined. Past Ms. Olympia winners would be eligible if they chose but all champions have been retired for several years so their return to the stage is considered unlikely. Stay tuned to BarBend for news and updates as they develop.
Featured image: Mr. Olympia LLC on Facebook