2002 Olympia marked a very interesting year for bodybuilding and Mr. Olympia. Following the end of Dorian Yates’ reign, the bodybuilders who had typically filled out the remainder of the finals placings were assumed to be his successors. What we found instead was that Ronnie Coleman brought an even more impressive display of mass to the stage that the 90’s era bodybuilders couldn’t match. Following his controversial win over Jay Cutler in 2001, however, Coleman brought a much more streamlined package to the Olympia stage that levelled the field. If there was ever a time for the reigning champ to be unseated, now was that time.
2002 Olympia, Coming into the show at 245 diced pounds, Ronnie Coleman was twenty pounds lighter than the previous year in an effort to bring down his bloated midsection to match the tighter waists of the rest of the field. He’d lost the Arnold earlier in the year to a best-ever Gunter Schlierkamp, so his intention was to battle the mass monster on shape, symmetry, and condition, rather than sheer size. That gamble, while risky, paid off and Coleman was again awarded the Sandow.
Second place went to Kevin Levrone, who was a frequent top four finisher when Dorian was the champ. Though Levrone’s upper body was more than a match for a smaller Coleman, his lower body lagged considerably, keeping him from taking the title.
Third place went to another 90’s mainstay, Chris Cormier. Cormier had been known for his insane conditioning throughout his career, but he was somewhat off from his best in this show. Despite his less-than-perfect conditioning, Cormier’s size (ten pounds heavier than the champ at the same height) and balanced physique managed to sway the judges to put him onto the podium.
In fourth was Dexter Jackson, who at 5’6” and 217lbs was completely outsized by everyone in the field, though his conditioning was as usual unmatched.
Fifth place went to the massive Gunter Schlierkamp, who tipped the scales at 300 pounds. Schlierkamp was on top of his game in 2002 and his defeat of Coleman earlier in the year had cemented him among the best of the best. In spite of his size and insane conditioning, his appearance from the rear hurt his position among the top men in the field to land him low in the placings, though that announcement came among a cascade of boos from people who thought he should have placed far higher.
Rounding out the top six was an insanely shredded but diminutive Lee Priest, who at 5’4” and 200 pounds looked far heavier than he was, but was simply outsized by the rest of the field. Read about 2002 Olympia.