Former 212 Olympia champion Derek Lunsford shocked the bodybuilding world at the 2022 Mr. Olympia contest, where he finished second to reigning champion Hadi Choopan by a narrow margin of just four points. On Jan. 1, 2023, Lunsford appeared on episode 155 of Fouad Abiad‘s The Real Bodybuilding podcast to reflect on his Mr. Olympia debut and share his plans for the 2023 season, which do not include competing at the 2023 Arnold Classic in March.
Lunsford intends to focus solely on the 2023 Mr. Olympia contest, in which he has already qualified as the runner-up in 2022. He aims to dethrone Choopan in his sophomore Mr. Olympia appearance by improving his chest and legs — the former of which was an area he wanted to improve upon in 2022. Check out the full interview below, courtesy of the Fouad Abiad Media YouTube channel:
The 2023 Arnold Classic will occur on March 2-5, 2023, as part of the Arnold Sports Festival (ASF) in Columbus, OH. It is widely considered the second most significant bodybuilding show of the year, behind the Olympia. Winners of the Arnold Classic who are still active include 2019 Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry (2019, 2022), 2023 Mr. Olympia bronze medalist Nick Walker (2021), and William Bonac (2018, 2020).
Those are notable names, all of which are a threat to win any Men’s Open show they enter. However, Lunsford will not join that list of names in 2023 as he is zoned in on bettering his physique for the 2023 Mr. Olympia contest. As was the case in 2022, when Lunsford received a special invite to move into the Men’s Open at the Olympia following his 212 Olympia win in 2021, Lunsford is unlikely to compete in any bodybuilding show before the 2023 Olympia.
For reference, the Mr. Olympia top five from the previous year automatically qualify for the following year, and any former Mr. Olympia has a lifetime invite to the contest. The 2023 Olympia Qualification System (OQS) was released on Dec. 28, 2022. The Olympia field in 2023 will consist of significantly fewer athletes than in 2022 as the 2023 OQS removed the points system as a means of qualification — only a pro show win will punch an athlete’s ticket to the Olympia if they aren’t already qualified as of this article’s publication.
Featured image: @dereklunsford_ on Instagram | photo by @tim.kahana on Instagram
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