In an interview with FLEX a few months ago, Ronnie Coleman looked into his crystal ball and said he thought, of the current crop of pros, Victor Martinez stood the best chance of winning the Mr. Olympia -- after his own retirement, of course.

But will Victor wait that long?

As Ronnie, Victor and the rest of the combatants in this year’s Mr. O gathered Wednesday night in the Orleans Arena for the closed-door athlete’s meeting, we had a chance to sit down with the New Yorker to discuss his odds going in to Saturday night, the 40th anniversary of the biggest show in bodybuilding. We also had a sneak peek at his physique, and we can tell you -- he is definitely dialed in and on track for a top placing, and (dare we say) a run for the top three in this, his second O appearance.

Noted for his excellent symmetry and balanced muscularity -- as well as his unfortunate penchant for mistimed peaks -- Victor has been an enigma on the pro circuit since entering it with his overall win at the 2000 NPC Nationals. The 2004 Show of Strength champion was not as his best in his disappointing seventh at the Arnold Classic earlier this year and third in the New York Pro, both placings well below his ultimate potential.

For this Olympia run, Victor wanted no more excuses, no more missed opportunities, and no more distractions. “I’m feeling good; I decided to come in (to Vegas) a day early so I would be one step closer to stepping on stage,” he said, moments after the meeting concluded. “My energy is good, my preparation was good … I got ready this time in Philadelphia, where it was not as hectic as New York, avoiding all the traffic, crowded gyms, it was just perfect. It made everything a whole lot easier; it was a lot of stress taken off of my shoulders.” Unlike the 2003-2004 Mr. Olympia contests, in which overwhelming mass in the form of Big Ron and Jay Cutler have dominated the one-two slots, Victor may indeed be able to make a move into the land of giants. He hopes to take full advantage of the recent IFBB directive to judges to mark down guys with distended midsections. In theory at least, that could allow Victor and other aesthetically-minded bodybuilders to earn comparisons against their more massive counterparts.

“I definitely fit into that (new direction),” Victor said, before adding with a smile, “I just hope they follow their own criteria.”

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