Qualifying for Olympia just got more challenging.
While previous winners of the Mr. Olympia, including current titleholder Hadi Choopan and 2019 champion Brandon Curry, needn’t worry, other Olympia contenders suddenly face a steeper climb to secure a spot on the world’s most prestigious bodybuilding show.
With the contest Mr. With the 2023 Olympia scheduled for November 3-5, there is now even more pressure on the sculpted shoulders of competitors to impress the judges with their physiques and pose routines. In a move that could have career-changing implications, the Olympia Qualifying System (OQS) will only give the top three finishers in the Mr. Olympia an automatic berth in next year’s competition.
On October 23, 2023, Olympia owner Jake Wood shared an Instagram post detailing the reasoning behind the groundbreaking decision:
“In recent years, the top 5 finishers in the Mr. Olympia have been automatically qualified for next year’s Olympia, but after consultation with the IFBB Pro League, we have decided to make a change.
Starting from this year’s event, only the top 3 of Mr. Olympia will automatically qualify for next year’s Olympia. We’re making this change in an effort to add some extra star power to the various regional events held worldwide. This change comes with the full support of the IFBB Pro League as we all share our interest in maintaining a system that strengthens events at all levels.”
The new rule applies not only to the Men’s Open division, but also to the other 10 divisions — 212, Men’s Physique, Classic Physique, Wheelchair, Women’s Bodybuilding, Women’s Physique, Figure, Gymnastics, Wellness and Bikini.
Most importantly, the change will be effective immediately, which will make the upcoming show in Orlando, Florida that much more competitive. Finishing in the top five in the sport’s most recognizable competition has always been considered a serious achievement. However, the athletes in this year’s line-up may be much more hungry for a higher place and more likely to see a result outside the top three as a significant disappointment.
Of course, this is only the latest change in the Olympia qualifiers. In December 2022, the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) decided to abolish the points system that gave competitors the chance to qualify for the Olympia. Previously, the athletes who finished with the three highest point totals during the season automatically punched their ticket to the biggest show of the year.
But with the points system no longer in play, this has put even more emphasis on performing well when it matters most. With the qualifying period running from November 21, 2022 to October 9, 2023, here’s the path athletes from all divisions (except Wheelchair Bodybuilding) face to earn a spot on this year’s Mr. Show. Olympia:
- Five from the Men’s Open 2022 Mr. Olympia
- Top three from other Olympia 2022 divisions
- Winner of any Open held during the qualifying period
This benefited the likes of Samson Dauda, who fell just short of the top five at the 2022 Olympia with a sixth-place finish on his Olympia debut. However, by taking the title at the 2023 Arnold Classic, “The Nigerian Lion” won a $300,000 prize and a place in the composition of Mr. Olympia Men’s Open 2023.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the rule change affects the competitive landscape. The reduction in the number of automatic bids from five to three undoubtedly enhances the importance of the other eligible shows in the program.
With two fewer Olympia spots, some athletes may need to shift their priorities and attack their training more aggressively to come out on top in other key events.
Dauda did just that by getting in top shape for the Arnold Classic and earning top honors for his efforts. The same goes for Justin Shier, who made the most of his IFBB Pro show debut in July by winning the 2023 Chicago Pro and securing his own spot in the Men’s Open lineup for the 2023 Olympia.
Most recently, Charles Griffen achieved his goal of getting the chance to compete against the best of the best at the Orange County Convention Center. Despite suffering a tear in April, the determined bodybuilder completed his return to the championship by winning the title at the 2023 Legion Sports Fest Pro on October 8, 2023. Griffen may face an uphill battle to finish on top among a crowded field established competitors, but he certainly deserves credit for taking the final qualifying spot.
Ultimately, allowing only the top three finishers at the Olympia to qualify for next year’s competition could be seen as both a positive and a negative. On the one hand, it raises the stakes considerably when everyone takes the stage for the most anticipated show of the year. On the other hand, it could leave some overseas competitors looking on if they don’t emerge victorious in one of the qualifiers on the 2024 calendar.
Featured Image: @mrolympiallc / Instagram