Olympia Storyline Four: How High Can Kai Climb?

By Greg Merritt

September 18, 2009


First up, a dose of reality. After the initial O (when a rookie had to win), no one has won the Mr. Olympia on their first attempt. If Kai Greene does, he’ll do what Arnold, Dorian, Lee and every other bodybuilder of the past 44 years couldn’t do. Highly unlikely. As for a top three finish, Phil Heath three’d it last year, but he was the first first-timer to win, place or show since Flex Wheeler 15 years prior. As the reigning Arnold Classic champ, Greene certainly has a shot at repeating Heath’s finish, but it’s nowhere near the slam dunk cheerleaders are proclaiming.

With zippered quads, vertical blind hams and floor-sweeping lats, Greene’s collection of parts at the Arnold was astounding, but here’s a list of those he didn’t beat in March in Columbus: Dexter Jackson, Jay Cutler, Phil Heath, Dennis Wolf. Throw in Victor Martinez at his best (unlike the Arnold) and you have the other five guys prognosticated for the top six. Make of that what you wish. Maybe Greene would’ve topped ’em all. It’s as unfair to penalize him for who wasn’t there as it is to leapfrog him to heir apparent when he wasn’t compared to the other Sandow top contenders (except Martinez, off his peak). We’ll find out on September 25 at the O prejudging when all six stand on stage at the same time.

How high can Greene go? He will be he biggest wildcard in Vegas. An also-ran just three years ago, he skyrocketed from DNP (’06 New York Pro) to last man standing (’07 Colorado Pro) in a little more than a year in what was the most dramatic ascendance in bodybuilding history. He is the reigning Arnold champ, and no wise gambler would bet on his climb stopping here. And yet Greene’s Olympia journey has yet to begin. He could start so close to the apex that he’s a mere step or two from the top, but at less than his best he could land out of a stacked top six with the likes of Branch Warren and Toney Freeman flexing in the posedown instead. We’ll find out on September 25-26 when the world’s best bodybuilders pose side by side.