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Olympia Legend: Jay Cutler

For a span of 11 years and 25 shows, 4X Mr. O Jay Cutler always finished in the top two.

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THE SANDOWS

In 2006, he finally got

that thing. And when he did, Orleans Arena erupted with a thunderous standing ovation in support of the new king but also in stunned acknowledgment that a sitting king could be vanquished, something that hadn’t happened in 22 years. Having lost to Coleman the first 10 times he faced him, Cutler got some revenge by beating him not just at the O but three more times in three days on the Euro Tour that followed. He was finally No. 1, a role he had been apprenticing for over the past half decade. “Everybody congratulates me now,” he said in Amsterdam, during what was in effect his coronation tour. “What could they really say before, all those years I was second?”

Cutler was never as secure at No. 1 as he had been at No. 2. This struggle further endeared him to fans. All those seconds showed he was vulnerable - if only to a present or future Mr. O. So he had to work even harder to get to the top, to stay there, and, ultimately, to get back there. At the 2007 Olympia, when he wasn’t at his best but Victor Martinez was, he lost a round to the challenger, then barely squeaked by him for the victory.

The following year, when he surrendered the crown to Dexter Jackson, it only seemed like the start of an inevitable slide. He turned 36 in 2009, and had now been competing for 17 years. Injuries were slowing him down. He couldn’t keep pressing the accelerator, the consensus said. He needed to ride the brakes.

But Cutler proved the doubters wrong once again. He roared back with his most convincing victory in six years, winning the 2009 Olympia by the widest margin in history (the next four places were remarkably close to each other on the scorecard but far away from the victor). He won his fourth Sandow in 2010 by fending off hard-charging Phil Heath. Then he succumbed to the Gift at the 2011 Olympia and again at the Sheru Classic in its wake. The latter contest was the 25th consecutive time he placed in the top two.

THE END

After a two-year hiatus from the stage, Jay Cutler returned to the Olympia in 2013 and placed sixth. He was 40, and, after only training all-out for a few months, he was a downsized version of his former self. Backstage after prejudging, when he knew the streak was ending, he said, wistfully, “It would’ve been good to have retired with that still going. I thought about that. But I’m a bodybuilder. I wanted to give it another shot.”

Whatever his future holds, this four-time Mr. Olympia, three-time Arnold Classic champ, and six-time Olympia runner-up will forever be immortalized for the span that encompassed all of those feats—the 11 years and 25 contests in which he never placed lower than second—The Streak.

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