For bodybuilders and physique athletes, the opportunity to stand on the Olympia stage means being one of the best in the world in one’s division. In order to qualify for the Figure Olympia, one either has to place in the top three at the previous year’s Olympia, win one of the pro shows held worldwide, or stay consistent enough to rank well at enough pro shows to earn requisite points in the Olympia Qualification System.
The 2022 Figure Olympia will feature 40 competitors. They will compete on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, to determine the best of the best. One athlete hopes to add to her historic total of Olympia wins, while the other 39 hope to leave the 20th edition of the contest as its eighth champion in division’s history. The full roster of competitors is below in alphabetical order:
2022 Fitness Olympia Roster
Jossie Nathali Alarcon Becerra
Maria Luisa Baeza Diaz
Cydney Gillon — Defending Champion
Nicole Zenobia Graham
Nadine Claudia Huber
Ericka Morales Morgan
Jessica Reyes Padilla
Michele Da Silva Pinto
Julia V. Waring
Only one past winner is in this contest — the five-time defending champion, Cydney Gillon. She finds herself in a situation similar to three-time Classic Physique Olympia winner Chris Bumstead. She has been so dominant at the Olympia that many fans and experts feel that the contest is already over as long as she shows up in good shape.
Gillon is already the only athlete to win the Figure Olympia five times, so any win going forward is adding to her historic legacy in the division. She’s the favorite to win in 2022, but there are contenders that aim to take advantage of an opportunity should Gillon not be in peak form.
The 2021 Olympia runner-up was Natalia Soltero, and traditionally she would receive a lot of attention as the top challenger. However, Soltero finished fifth at the 2022 Figure International, a part of the Arnold Classic in Columbus, OH. Gillon won that contest as well. To be clear, Soltero can redeem herself at the Olympia, but she isn’t alone in the list of worthy contenders to Gillon’s title.
Fans should definitely consider Jessica Reyes Padilla for the top of that list. She was fourth at the 2021 Olympia but finished second to Gillon at the Figure International. Padilla has competed in both Masters and open for Figure, and she’s been successful in both classes. With over ten wins as a pro to her credit, this will be her seventh straight Olympia appearance.
There are two breakout stars that will look to cement their places as elite competitors in this division. Stephanie Gibson serves in the United States Air Force, and her onstage career flew to new heights after placing third in the 2021 Olympia. That isn’t a bad way to make an Olympia debut, and some feel she could be the future of the division after Gillon calls it a career.
Lola Montez of Canada is another rising star in the Figure division. She was ninth at the Olympia one year ago, but she placed third in the Figure International and won the Boston Pro less than one month later. A first callout for her can certainly be in the cards.
Nicole Zenobia Graham was in the top five at the Olympia last year and expects to return there this year as well. She is coming off a victory at the 2022 Wasatch Warrior Pro, which was her fifth pro victory. The combination of veterans and newcomers to the division will make that first callout very interesting.
A few athletes will make their Olympia debuts in 2022, including Tereza Linhartova, a former IFBB Elite Pro competitor. Her twin sister, Gabriela Linhartova, was first in points on the Olympia Qualification System, so she will also join Tereza on the Olympia stage. It is rare to see sisters compete in the same show, but it will happen in Las Vegas.
An athlete that has ground her way to the Olympia stage is Autumn Cleveland of Kentucky. After turning pro in 2018 and competing five times in 2022, she finally scored her first career win at the 2022 Arizona Pro, which granted her first Olympia qualification. She will have vocal support from the crowd when she takes the stage for prejudging.
2022 Chicago Pro winner Julia Champlin will take the biggest stage in the sport for the first time. Winning that show should help her receive a lot of attention in the early stages of the contest. Keeping that attention will be the tougher task, but she can make her way into the top 10 at least.
South Korea’s second-year-pro, Hanwool Park, won the 2022 Toronto Pro by beating seven other competitors, and she will also be on the Olympia stage for the first time. A top 15 finish for her would be a step in the right direction going into the 2023 season, but she very likely is eyeing the top 10.
There are a few of the top 15 competitors from the 2021 Olympia that will be returning in 2022, including Julia Waring (11th), Bojana Vasiljevic (13th), and Wendy Fortino (14th). Karina Grau hadn’t competed at the Olympia since 2019 when she placed 12th, but she will make her seventh career appearance this year.
The 2022 Olympia Weekend will feature all 11 championship events taking place on the weekend of Dec. 16-17, 2022, in Las Vegas. You can watch prejudging and finals of all the pro events by purchasing the Olympia Premium pay-per-view for $59.99 at the Olympia Productions website.
BarBend will also have live updates of each pro show throughout the weekend. Stay with BarBend for all the latest news and happenings as they take place in Sin City.
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