Arash Rahbar discusses the reaction to Phil Heath at Olympia 2020 and how criticism has been too harsh.

Phil Heath’s comeback at the Olympia 2020 didn’t bring him his coveted eight Sandow trophy. In fact, it didn’t even bring him second place. He landed third behind Brandon Curry and the new champion Big Ramy. Man fans and critics have already pointed out that the same distended stomach issue was mostly to blame. In our latest GI Exclusive, Arash Rahbar defends Phil Heath and thinks criticism against him has been too harsh.

Phil Heath’s third place victory at the Olympia 2020 has ignited the same old comments about his distended midsection. This is nothing new, though perhaps fans hoped he would have improved in that area after a year off. Instead, it seemed there was little to no improvement. But the criticism against his midsection has been in existence for many years now – dating perhaps as early as 2017.

In our recent interview with Arash Rahbar, we asked for his opinion on the Mr. Olympia 2020 results. He took some time to hone in on Phil Heath’s physique and share his opinion about Heath’s legacy. While Rahbar agrees that this was not the best version of Phil Heath, he does believe that the criticism against him has gotten out of hand.

Arash Rahbar points out that when we look at the bodybuilders on stage, we are looking at the best of the best. So while criticism is valid, these athletes still stand tall above nearly every other bodybuilder in the sport. The problem comes when the language of said criticism becomes over-exaggerated.

“I think first of all people are a little too harsh. You know we are talking about the best of the best in the world. That’s first and foremost,” Arash Rahbar stated in our interview. He went on:

“Like, people sometimes say things that just make my jaw drop. I heard people say that Phil looked terrible and this and that. Look Phil wasn’t his best. He wasn’t Phil Heath in his prime. But honestly what Mr. Olympia after seven consecutive wins, six consecutive wins, eight consecutive wins – which one of them ever looked their best? None. They all fell off at the end. They all had injuries. All of their midsections. I’m sorry but if people – every single Mr. Olympia at the end of their reign, their midsection wasn’t as tight as the beginning or middle of their reign.”

Ultimately, it seems that what Arash Rahbar is trying to say is that Phil Heath will of course go down first and foremost as a legend. Seven Olympia wins don’t come out of thin air. While some fans have disagreed with the judges decisions on his later wins – Phil still was a reigning champ among the best of the best.

Perhaps it’s just due to internet comments and more anonymous exposure to opinions on social media. Regardless, Arash Rahbar wants to make it clear that just because Phil Heath wasn’t his best, and probably did deserver third, doesn’t mean he has become a shell of his former shelf. Third place is still third best in the world. That’s something most people cannot and will not ever accomplish.

You can watch Arash Rahbar’s full comments on Phil Heath and the Olympia 2020 results in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.