After months of speculation, Phil Heath officially withdrew from the 2007 Mr. Olympia on Thursday, June 28.

“I will not be competing in the Olympia this year,” Heath said. “I noticed that there are a lot of improvements that need to be made in order to place within the top 6 of the Olympia, if not even the top 10.”

“There are a lot of great guys [competing in the Olympia]. I’m definitely upset that I’m not doing it because I do feel like I belong. I feel like I’ve proven myself. By no means am I afraid of any guy that has placed ahead of me. I just feel like there are certain things that are necessary for me to make a big splash next time I step on stage.”

It is the second year in a row that Heath, who got married this past Saturday, has decided to sit out the Olympia after qualifying. The 27-year-old Heath – nicknamed “The Gift” – has been under immense pressure since turning pro. After winning the overall at the 2005 NPC USA Championships. Heath won the first two professional shows of his career, the Colorado Pro and New York Pro, in 2006. After his win in New York, Heath sat out the remainder of 2006 before competing in this year’s Arnold Classic. Heath entered that show with expectations of keeping his undefeated streak intact, but could manage to finish no higher that fifth amid the ultra-competitive field.

“I felt like I was in the mix this year,” Heath said. “My package there was good, obviously not good enough.”

Heath is pointing to the 2007 Ironman as his next competition. “Like last year, I feel like I did good, but I’m not going to be able to make the improvements within a three-month time period and then get ready for the Ironman and the Arnold Classic next year. But there is no doubt in my mind that I’m doing the Olympia in 2008. Mark it down.”

Check out the September issue of FLEX for an extended interview with Phil Heath, and his predictions for the 2007 Mr. Olympia. The September issue of FLEX will be on newsstands August 9th.