Road to the Olympia 2019 Winner Predictions
The Outlaw and the Ladies. The Men and Women of Team ALLMAX
Dating back to its inaugural showdown in 1965, the annual Olympia extravaganza remains by far the most prestigious and successful pro bodybuilding event of all time. For over 54 years it has continued to attract only the very best athletes ever to have graced the bodybuilding stage. Yet, only 14 men have possessed the attributes required to convincingly win the coveted open Olympia crown (its marque event).
Since its inception, the general Olympia trend has been for one standout athlete to dominate, with the outcome from year-to-year often being as predictable as the overall quality of competition among the event’s perennial top contenders. However, with several big names missing in action – most notably incumbent champion Shawn Rhoden, former seven-time standout Phil Heath and top-three mass monster Big Ramy – we may see a 15th name added to this illustrious list in 2019.
The big question is, who might this athlete be, and will their victory signal another lengthy, unchallenged reign, as has been the case with Heath and former legendary competitors’ Jay Cutler (four Os), Ronnie Coleman (eight Os), Dorian Yates (six Os), Lee Haney (eight Os), and Arnold Schwarzenegger (seven Os).
With its continued evolution the Olympia has added a number of distinct divisions to its annual proceedings. Not only has the Olympia continued to showcase the world’s most massively muscled men but, with each passing year, the competition has continued to expand in categories as diverse as Bikini, Men’s Physique, Classic Physique, Women’s Fitness, Women’s Figure, Women’s Physique, and Men’s 212-pound Bodybuilding.
Besides fielding a fresh lineup of potential title challengers, this year’s Olympia is also unique in its showcasing of all eight pro league division finals on the same arena stage. Running from September 12-15 and held at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention Center, the 2019 O will also be one of few times a defending Mr. O will not fight it out for top honors (the most recent being in 1998, when Ronnie Coleman took the title following the inevitable retirement of injury-riddled six-time champion Dorian Yates).
Among the top pro contenders to be in this year’s title hunt, ALLMAX Nutrition will be well-represented in both the Men’s open division and in the Bikini lineup. While pro veteran Steve Kuclo is set to make his fifth Olympia appearance, Bikini standouts Jennifer Ronzitti and Monica Ellis will be gunning for victory in arguably the most competitive division of them all.
What makes these three athletes among the best at what they do? How has each prepared for the 2019 Olympia stage? And where can Team ALLMAX be expected to place relative to their world-class peers? Keep reading to get the backstory on each of these standout athletes as they prepare to make Olympia history.
The established Olympia order is due for a shake-up at this year’s event, with several top names out of the 2019 running. Among those who will be contesting this most prestigious competition, however, is ALLMAX Nutrition standout Steve Kuclo.
Having made significant improvements to the physique that has won him countless fans and supporters for nearly a decade in the pro trenches, Steve has emerged as a top contender for this year’s title. His newfound mass with class (read more size, better aesthetics and a level of muscle maturity that has granted him the much-coveted grainy look of a walking anatomy chart) has secured for him back to back Indy Pro wins (in 2018-19), a top-ten Olympia finish in 2018, and a top-six placement at the 2019 Arnold Classic. He’s now poised for his best Olympia performance to date.
On the road to his fifth Olympia appearance, Kuclo, AKA bodybuilding’s Kingsnake, has matured not only in physique but also in the mindset required to remain competitive despite competing at bodybuilding’s highest level since 2004.
- Big Improvements. To make it to the top in the unforgiving arena of pro men’s bodybuilding requires that each athlete bring a look that captures the judges’ attention. Notwithstanding O veterans like Dexter Jackson, whose physique is so balanced, shredded and spectacular that he’s virtually guaranteed a top spot regardless of any changes he may or may not have made, most competitors are obliged to wow the judges with something new (more muscle, better balance, and crisper definition being typical areas of interest) to stand any chance of beating the best. In the past two years, Steve has managed to radically improve each of these contest-winning attributes. His newfound size, shape and shreddedness have therefore given him an edge going into this year’s O.
- Mindset. History has shown Steve to be consistent in his ability to dig deep and bring his very best to each of his pro events. Win or lose, he has proven he has what it takes to ultimately become an Olympia champion: persistence in the face of the ever-greater challenge routinely competing in the Olympia brings. Competing at the top does not get any easier, but Steve maintains a healthy respect for the process of self-betterment along with the perspective needed to continue grinding away despite the increasing demands of pro level bodybuilding. And he continues to edge ever-closer to capturing his first O. Will this be his year?
- Size and Shape. Few top levels bodybuilders are known for bringing to the stage both size and shape in equal measure. One of today’s largest O competitors, Steve is one bodybuilder who, because of his great symmetry, proportion and sheer size, stands out in any lineup. As the old saying goes, “a good larger man will always beat a good smaller man.” Should he nail his conditioning and bring the balance and mass he’s known for, Steve is certain to challenge fiercely for a top six finish at this year’s O.
Sixth Place: Cedric McMillan
It’s been said by many a seasoned pro bodybuilding commentator that the 6’ 2” 270lb Cedric McMillan has all the attributes of importance to winning the Olympia, if only he could completely nail his conditioning and bring a package that capitalizes on some of the best genetics ever to set foot on a bodybuilding stage.
At age 41, time is running out. But should he bring it all together this year, he may find himself among the title contenders, though, as history has shown, this possibility is becoming less likely with each outing.
Fifth Place: Roelly Winklaar
Pound for pound, Roelly is expected to be the largest man onstage at this year’s O. Clocking in at around 250lbs at 5’ 6”, the heavy-muscled Curacao native, he of the most impressive arms ever to hit a front double biceps shot, will not be too hard to find in this year’s lineup.
His third-place finish in 2018 signalled his arrival as a legitimate Olympia title threat. However, it appears the remaining top contenders in this year’s event may have more to offer in shape and conditioning which may, in the end, relegate Roelly to the minor end of the top-six standings.
Fourth Place: Steve Kuclo
Of his, to date, four Olympia appearances, this could well be the year Steve finally breaks through to title challenger status. Based on the improvements he has made in the past 24 months combined with his much-coveted combination of size and shape, he’ll likely be in the running for the top spot at this year’s showdown.
Third Place: Dexter Jackson
Just a couple months shy of his 50th birthday, Dexter Jackson continues to show no obvious signs of aging. Rather, he continues to improve in size, shape and, to be expected, muscle maturity. Earlier this year he won a record 29th pro title when he trounced his Tampa Pro opposition. Even better, the 2008 Mr. O displayed what many believe to have been his best physique to date – complete with fuller and dryer legs along with a little more upper body mass. Might the Blade win his second O in 2019?
Second Place: William Bonac
Coming off the biggest win of his pro career at the 2018 Arnold Classic, the near-perfectly proportioned Bonac secured an equally impressive fourth-place finish at last year’s Olympia. Despite a tumultuous year, with the firing of his long-time coach Neil Hill, Bonac by all accounts looks to be right in the mix for this year’s top-three. But he’ll have a tough job toppling the man who narrowly beat him at this year’s Arnold Classic.
Winner: Brandon Curry
Winner of this year’s Arnold Classic and a man many are picking for victory at this weekend’s Olympia, Brandon Curry is another who has made significant progress in a short space of time to, in his case, become arguably the best pro walking the earth right now.
Curry has been discussed as a potential Olympia threat as far back his Olympia debut in 2011, where he placed eighth with one of the best upper body’s onstage. Indeed, Curry critics have always cited his lower half, specifically a lack of quad sweep and poor separation between the various frontal-thigh muscles, as being his biggest barrier to Olympia success. Having brought this much-maligned area up to the appropriate Olympia-worthy standard, he’s now poised for the number one spot, a position he’s likely to secure in mere days.
Coming close to winning the Bikini Olympia for three years running has incentivized title challenger Jennifer Ronzitti’s training like nothing else can. This year she is extremely confident that she can finally win her first O in spectacular fashion, so much so that she is ready to unveil a new and improved physique come September 14, one she promises will take her one step further to victory. To stake her claim she has added more size and further improved her renowned shape. As with each of the champions featured here, Jennifer’s success has hinged on several key attributes. Let’s take a look at those specific to her, to see what makes this ALLMAX standout the best at what she does.
- Present Moment Awareness. Like fellow ALLMAX Olympians Steve Kuclo and Monica Ellis, Jennifer possess the all-important winner’s mindset and ability to meticulously plan and execute her Olympia mission. What the bikini standout also has is an ability to live in the now; to take one day at a time and apply 100 percent effort to whatever she is doing without looking too far ahead. She’s all about focusing on the variables she can control rather than obsessing over future events that she has little control over. This present moment approach has heightened her focus and intensified her training leading into this year’s O. Her physique is all the better for it.
- A New Training Approach. Jennifer’s training philosophy could be distilled down to doing only what works and discarding what does not provide a sufficient return on investment. This year she has focused on establishing a greater mind/muscle connection to ensure the muscular imbalances she has experienced due to “poor muscle activation” may no longer negatively impact her training efforts. As such, she has enlisted a physical therapist to assist her to retrain her muscles to “fire appropriately” during her workouts. As a result, Jennifer has been able to target her muscles with greater intensity and precision, thus promoting a more pronounced hypertrophic response and, in turn, a more balanced physique.
- An Ability to Grind. Once a program has proven workable, Jennifer simply gets down to business and grinds through whatever needs to be done, day after day. She puts her trust and faith in her coach, Damian Segovia, and does not question the process. With her mind in the moment, Jennifer lets the process take care of her results. Simply put: she does the work. No excuses.
While relatively new to the pro bikini scene, Monica Ellis has nevertheless made great strides during her four years at the top level, winning two San Antonio Pro titles, making the top six in a number of additional events, and, most recently, securing her first Arizona Pro crown. While her first Olympia foray, in 2018, was not an overwhelming success (she placed 16th), this has only strengthened her resolve to be amongst the title challenges going into this year’s event. Known for “constantly evolving” her training methods, Monica has remained true to this approach in 2019 while placing a newfound focus on recovery, which has seen her regularly incorporate deep tissue massage along with foam rolling and ice baths. As a result, she promises to wow this year’s Olympia judges with more muscle and a firmer, tighter physique.
- Incentive. With more muscle and an improved shape, Monica aims to make this year’s top ten in what will be her second Olympia outing. Her 2018 result has given her all the motivation she needs to prove she belongs in the top standings of her chosen division. With youth on her side, plenty of potential to be realized and, based on her recent competition successes, an ultra-competitive physique that can strongly challenge any of her fellow bikini hopefuls on any given day, her incentive to make 2019 her breakthrough year is likely to be incredibly strong. She is mentally ready for the task ahead. “At this level,” says Monica, “everyone is on top of their game. A disciplined mindset is therefore a must. Working on your mental game is very important at this level.”
- A Relative Newcomer to the Olympia Stage. Set to make only her second appearance on the Olympia stage coupled with the recent physical improvements she has made, Monica is perfectly positioned to capture the judges’ attention with a new, fresh look that has already garnered much respect from fellow athletes and fans alike. She has worked for many years to get to Olympia level, and now she is ready to become a legitimate Olympia threat. Says Monica: “The Olympia is where I get to showcase all of my hard work and that feeling of showcasing years of hard work and inspiring others is so satisfying. It’s the most prestigious stage that everyone dreams about but only a few ever get an opportunity to step on.”
- An Eclectic Approach to Training. While consistency in all aspects of prep and a willingness to grind day in and day out remain fundamentally crucial to developing an Olympia-winning bikini physique, equally important is eclecticism in one’s training. Doing the same things over and over is not necessarily the best way to force fresh gains and, in this regard, Monica believes in constantly changing her methods to bring greater results. “I Always keep my training fun,” she says. Her advice to others? “Change your methods. Try new exercises. Do not become stagnant.” Among her many training essentials, Monica uses pauses during her workouts to increase intensity. “I will also lengthen my time-under-tension in my concentric and eccentric movements. I also focus on my mind to muscle connection and am motivated by the journey of constantly improving not just my physique, but also my mental game when it comes to competing. I am always evolving my methods and training.” It’s this constant evolution that has made her one of the hottest contenders going into this year’s O.
Sixth Place: Ashley Kaltwasser
Former three-time Olympia bikini champion Ashley Kaltwasser dropped to fifth at the 2018 O and is unlikely to unseat the new order within the top tier of elite bikini competition at this year’s event. This is not to say she does not have a chance of breaking through to the top-three. Her third-place finish at this year’s other big bikini showdown, the Bikini International, showed that she still has the firepower to do some damage at the highest level. However, hitting her peak twice in six months may prove a difficult task, given her longevity in the game.
Fifth Place: Monica Ellis
Though she placed out of the big money last year, Monica is determined to solidify her position as one of the best by beating the best come Olympia time. This means making the highly competitive top-six at this year’s event. Coming off a career-best performance at the Arizona Pro on September 9 with a physique that appears to be worthy of the Olympia top-six has shown that this may be the year that she finally breaks through to Olympia title challenger status.
Fourth Place: Elisa Pecini
A second-place finish at this year’s Bikini International has given Elisa Pecini some good momentum going into this year’s O. One of the smaller competitor’s, what she lacks in size she makes up for in God-given symmetry and near-perfect balance. She placed fourth at last year’s O. With another step up in competition this weekend, she will likely maintain her position in the Olympia pecking (or peaking?) order.
Third Place: Janet Layug
With her big win at this year’s Bikini International, Janet Layug is poised for a top finish at this weekend’s Olympia and, in all likelihood, considering a more competitive field, will repeat her 2018 placement of third. With all the tools to win the title, she may even take the coveted crown this year, such is the fluidity among bikini competitors when it comes to allocation of Olympia placements, from year to year.
Second Place: Angelica Teixeira
Aiming for a three-peat at this year’s Olympia will be two-time champ Angelica Teixeira. The winner of two Bikini International events and a raft of lesser titles, Angelica could be considered the best bikini competitor of all time. Her reign is proof positive that the overly muscular (read hard and shredded) bikini look will not be rewarded at Olympia level and, on this basis, she could win her third title come September 14. But, as always, she will be challenged hard for the number one spot.
Winner: Jennifer Ronzitti
Finishing as high as second in 2017 and placing in the top six in ‘06 and ’08 has made Jennifer Ronzitti a title challenger who continues to improve with each Olympia outing. Giving the aforementioned fluidity of placements within this most-competitive of divisions, and the radical changes that can be achieved in as little as a few days when peaking, one week can make a tremendous difference in how a competitor fares on contest day.
With her propensity for bringing her very best to the Olympia stage, Jennifer is banking on another big showing this year. When standing side by side, her physique is similar in many ways to that of two-time O champ Angelica (lean, long and aesthetic). However, the little extra muscle Jennifer has gained and the additional improvements in balance and conditioning she has made this year could see her slide into the top spot.