KAI GREENE: THE PRESSURES OF BEING NUMBER TWO

Generation Iron Kai Greene Number two

It’s not easy being Greene.

Professional competition requires a no holds barred mentality. Whatever your poison is – be it Boxing, MMA, Football, Soccer, you don’t compete to be anything other than the top dog of your sport. But not all competitors are created equal. Not everyone has the privilege to make their dreams of becoming number one a reality. There are those who sit on the cusp of greatness and find themselves just outside the winners circle. To perform so well only to become first runner up can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse. It begs the question: what’s there to do when you’re number two?

This past weekend saw the crowning of the 50th Mr. Olympia champion. Four years running and it seems that Phil Heath has a vice grip on the coveted title, taking home yet another Sandow in this years competition. Once again Phil will bathe in the glory and accolades of being considered the world’s top bodybuilder. But where does that leave the runner up Kai Greene? Four years of Olympia competitions and four losses to his rival Phil Heath. He has all the qualities to win the title, a well constructed physique, an understanding of what poses best suit his frame and personality, but yet again he’s fallen short.

Kai Greene is as confident an athlete as you’d come across. He trains hard, pushes himself to the brink of physical and mental fatigue and keeps coming back for more. But after losing four times in a row, you’ve got to wonder what this loss does for his confidence. There’s no shame in coming second to Phil Heath, but at this point in his career it seems that Kai may be relegated to forever being labeled as second best.

But a competitor like Kai Greene has too much pride and self respect to simply be content to playing second fiddle to any man, particularly to his bitter arch nemesis Heath. In a way, being number two is the exact motivation that will bring Kai back for each outing. Knowing that he’s on the cusp of capturing the title will only be a motivating factor. The truth of the matter is that many fans and observers believed that Kai pulled off the upset this year. The argument can be made for both Kai and Phil, but the fact of the matter is there can be only one winner. But any and every professional athlete is never content to sit back and accept being the number two guy, not while they still have the fire to compete. Number two may be Kai’s current placement on the totem pole, but the gap between he and Phil is growing all the smaller and there’s only so much time that one man can reign on the top. No one remains king forever. Jay Cutler stayed frustratingly in 2nd place to Ronnie Coleman four┬átimes straight only to eventually topple the titan. Perhaps that story will repeat itself next year.

The pressures of being number two may be a tough pill to swallow, but it does ensure one thing: that with the thrown in reach there’s no reason to back down. Kai Greene will have his opportunity again. Only time will tell if he can shed his label of second best.

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Do you think Kai can rise up from number two? Or was this his last year as a major competitor? Let us know in the comments section below or on our official Facebook and Twitter pages.

Jonathan Salmon
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.