Opinion: Did Hadi Choopan Deserve Third Place at the 2020 Olympia?

Did Hadi Choopan deserve third place?

2020 Olympia was a shock to the system for many bodybuilding. The expectations for the show, particularly the Open Bodybuilding competition, was higher than its been in some time.

Phil Heath returned to action and it seemed like he was poised to dominate the field. But with each passing callout, with each comparison, the bodybuilding world would soon learn that a Heath domination was highly unlikely. In fact, what we all learned was to never count anyone out.

Strength Wars Movie

After taking fifth at the 2020 Arnold Classic earlier this year, no one could have imagined that Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay would make such a radical comeback.

Many have said in the past that Big Ramy would never be Mr. Olympia. They said that he was simply a spectacle and nothing more. Just a mass monster who simply had size to his name. Big Ramy proved a whole lot of people wrong at the 2020 Olympia.

Phil Heath however would end up taking third place after 2019 Mr. Olympia and this year’s runner-up Brandon Curry. While Phil Heath did look improved from his last showing at the 2018 Olympia, he simply fell short of greatness at this show.

For many who observed, Phil Heath did deserve third place at the show. But there are also a contingent of people who were not satisfied with that result. Far from it. Some believed that Phil Heath was in fact beat out by Hadi Choopan.

The Iranian bodybuilder barely made it to the Olympia stage this year. With visa issues holding him back, it was a small miracle that Hadi Choopan made it to the stage at all.

With so much on his plate and no clear answer as to whether he’d be able to compete or not, Choopan trained hard during the off season. There can be no doubt that he came in some pretty great shape for the 2020 Olympia.

So now the argument becomes who deserved to take third?

In a way it’s a pretty inconsequential argument to pose. After all, Phil Heath was awarded the third place standing and history will not change that. But speculation is all apart of the bodybuilding game. Questioning decision making is what allows the sport to grow and change for the better.

From The Front

From a conditioning stand point you can argue that Hadi Choopan out dueled Phil Heath. In fact in terms of the pose positions, it can be argued that Choopan outperformed Heath from the front. Choopan’s front double bicep and abs and thighs poses showed dominance in all areas. His abs were more visible, his biceps and triceps more prominent, a better V-Taper, and even great muscle separation in his legs.

From The Back

This is where Phil Heath showed his worth. Always maintaining an incredible back, Heath outsized Choopan in the back poses and showed equal conditioning to the Iranian bodybuilder in terms of detail. The back double bicep is close, but Phil Heath still gets the slight edge.


Despite Heath winning from the back, the argument can be made that he did so narrowly. In fact, you can argue that Choopan took some of the back poses as well. Overall, Hadi Choopan appeared to be the more conditioned man at the 2020 Olympia. That said, it can’t be denied that Phil Heath has a great presence on stage and that likely was able to sway the judges.

Still, Hadi Choopan deserves to be acknowledged for his tremendous showing against the best bodybuilders in the world.

Do you agree with the 2020 Olympia results?

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Managing Editor at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.

Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.