Who are the names to watch for in the Arnold Classic 2021?
The Arnold Classic 2021 is just days away. It will take place on Saturday in Columbus, OH after being pushed back due to COVID-19. There are four total divisions that will be on display during the event — Men’s Open, Classic Physique, Fitness, and Bikini.
To begin, we will break down the Men’s Open division. This is a deep group this year but there have been some changes to the lineup. Cedric McMillan was forced to withdraw with an injury while Lionel Beyeke will not be able to travel to the event because of restrictions.
Most recently, Roelly Winklaar was left off the competitors list. It is rumored that he will not be participating because of an undisclosed medical issue. Even with the lack of these big names, there are plenty others that will make the event exciting and a bit unpredictable.
Below, we will be breaking down the Men’s Open division. Here is the full lineup and some analysis about the competitors at the Arnold Classic 2021.
Arnold Classic 2021 Men’s Open
- William Bonac
- Maxx Charles
- Seung Chul Lee
- Mohamed El Emam
- Steve Kuclo
- Hassan Mostafa
- Sergio Oliva Jr.
- Justin Rodriguez
- Iain Valliere
- Nick Walker
- Akim Williams
On paper, William Bonac is in the best position heading into the Arnold Classic. He is the reigning champion from 2020 and has another title in 2018. Sandwiched inn-between is a second-place finish in 2019. Bonac also finished second in the Olympia in 2019. To summarize, he has seen plenty of success at the biggest shows. Bonac knows the Arnold Classic well and the judges have shown that they like him on stage. Will he be victorious again? It would not be surprising to see another top-two finish from Bonac on Saturday.
Maxx Charles has put together an impressive career. He is still performing at a high level and this includes a fourth-place finish at the Tampa Pro this year. This will be Charles’ fifth appearance at the Arnold Classic. In 2017, he placed third and marked his best finish at the event. Charles can improve upon what was an eighth place finish in 2020.
Seung Chul Lee
Seung Chul Lee is looking to make a name for himself on the biggest stage. This will be his debut in the Arnold Classic after placing 12th in the 2020 Olympia. The big events have not been kind to newcomers when looking at the history. Lee could change the course with a strong performance in Columbus on Saturday.
Mohamed El Emam
Mohamed El Emam has built plenty of noise and hype around himself this year. He placed top five in three major competitions this year in America. The Russian bodybuilder has built the necessary experience to compete in a competition like the Arnold Classic. El Emam has been hard at work training for the Arnold Classic, both in the gym and in his diet plan. During the 2021 season, El Emam has competed against other top competitors in the country and he saw what he needed to do to stack up.
Steve Kuclo finished fourth in last year’s Arnold Classic and it might be difficult to improve with the lineup this year. At the Texas Pro, Kuclo finished second and could be better conditioned heading into Saturday. If this is the case, Kuclo has a chance to sneak into the top five but if not, he could struggle to place in the top half. Kuclo has competed in the last three Arnold Classic events, with last year being his highest finish.
Hassan Mostafa is another competitor making his debut at the Arnold Classic 2021 this year. Mostafa has appeared on stage many times this year looking for qualification to the Olympia. He has come on over the last two years and become a staple at competitions. Mostafa has all the makings of a successful bodybuilder and this is the year that he can show it off on the biggest stages.
Sergio Oliva Jr.
Sergio Oliva Jr. is one of the dark-horse competitors in this event. Oliva won the New York Pro back in 2017 but there has not been that dominant victory since. After a difficult year filled with different issues that held him out of competition, Oliva is set to return in Columbus and could make an impact. He placed fifth in the Arnold Classic in 2020 and has a chance to be a top-three finisher this year.
Justin Rodriguez appeared in his first and only Arnold Classic back in 2018, where he finished seventh. Since then, he has appeared in two Olympia’s and notched two second-place finishes in 2020. Rodriguez is beginning to hit his stride and that makes him a dark-horse contender in this year’s show. With a stacked lineup like this, it will be difficult for Rodriguez to crack the top five but there is a chance if he comes in with the right conditioning.
It has been quite the year for Iain Valliere. He is the only athlete this year to win competitions in back-to-back weeks. It began when he finished first at the Tampa Pro and followed it up with topping Kuclo at the Texas Pro. Valliere is qualified and will be competing in the Olympia this year. This is his first appearance in the Arnold Classic and a top-five finish would be impressive. This all depends on conditioning but Valliere has certainly built up plenty of momentum heading into the biggest competitions of the year.
Nick Walker is one of the biggest up-and-comers in the sport and is getting plenty of attention as the potential winner of the show. Walker has shown off his crazy physique and size on social media leading up to the event. Walker was victorious at the New York Pro and will have a chance to show off at the two biggest events of the year. At his height, Walker has incredible mass. He is preparing for his first Arnold Classic and a win would be extraordinary. This is a difficult feat for any competitor but Walker has what it takes to be a top-three finisher at worst.
Akim Williams has all the tools to win this show. He is coming into his own after being an underrated competitor for a few years. After a win at the Puerto Rico Pro, Williams will have another chance to compete at the Olympia, where he placed sixth in 2020. Williams has what it takes to finish higher this year and potentially win the Arnold Classic 2021. He has incredible size and a small waist. His overall physique is impressive and if conditioned, Williams will be difficult to beat. He might not have the experience, competing in just two Arnold Classics with no higher than a seventh-place finish, but he has all the physical tools.