by Christian Duque
I recently saw, interviewed, and chatted with famed bodybuilder Roelly “The Beast” Winklaar at the 2019 NPC Pittsburgh Championships. In usual Roelly fashion, he looked massive, his arms were surreal and his mindset was upbeat. He looked and sounded like The Beast, but after this year’s Arnold Classic in Columbus, OH, there’s plenty of skepticism as to whether Winklaar will be able to turn things around, in time, for the Olympia.
There’s some good news for Roelly, in that he automatically qualified for the 2019 Olympia with his Top 5 placing at the 2018 event; however, the pressure is on. While Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden unseated 7x Mr. Olympia Phil “The Gift” Heath, the fans voted for Winklaar as the People’s Champion and if we look at his 2018 physique, that sets the bar quite high. The one issue many top pro’s have, is that when they reach a certain level of quality (in terms of their physiques, posing, and overall presentation), they find that expectations regarding their future showings, will be compared to what’s been their best up to that point. For many, we’re not talking about just a top tier athlete, we’re talking about someone who many enthusiasts believe, can be the #1 bodybuilder in the world. There’s an undeniable amount of pressure on the athlete, from the fans, from their corner, really, from their entire camp. Top tier athletes are also very good at keeping secrets. Take 8x Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman. I never, not in a million years, ever imagined the level of pain he was in. It wasn’t until I saw his Netflix film (this year), that I realized, that all the while he was squatting 800lbs, pulling God only knows how much, winning each every one of those Sandows, he was in agony. Politicians are notorious for hiding the truth, but top tier bodybuilders can write a book on it. We’re talking Academy Award winning acting, for years!!
Further, it’s not just acting to look good for the fans. Injured athletes aren’t as marketable. There’s money to be made on stage, but most of the big paydays, come by way of supplement deals and endorsements. You can’t exactly be successful if you’re injured. Other secondary factors like age, may also come into play.
Roelly insists he’s 100% and he looks pretty impressive in off-season weight; however, he had knee issues going into the Arnold Classic, and between those knee issues and food poisoning in Nepal, he was unable to win a title that many of his fans thought was totally within the realm of possibilities for him. Imagine taking Top 3 at the Olympia, winning the Fan’s Choice award, then going to Columbus and winning the Arnold in top form. That would have been any marketing team’s dream. Imagine the fanfare, imagine the ads, pull-outs, imagine the message board banter that would have come out from such a thing. Instead, Roelly wasn’t even a factor, his legs were noticeably smaller, and he simply wasn’t in condition. On the one hand, I tip my hat to him for having competed. Another top tier guy, might have jumped ship. That being said, it was obvious from the moment he got on stage, that he was off. This outing has also caused many fans to forget about what he achieved in Vegas less than a year ago.
Right now, Roelly isn’t hot. People aren’t looking to him to be the next Mr. Olympia. In fact, a lot of people – media included – aren’t talking about him, at all. Everyone is obsessed with raggin on Shawn Rhoden, talking about Brandon Curry’s undeniable ascent, and even beating the dead horse about a possible Kai Greene comeback. People have been milking the notion of a Kai Greene comeback for the last half decade. If there’s nothing to talk about, they’ll talk about Kai Greene’s return. You know you’ve dropped down the trending scale when people rather talk about a guy who’s been off the stage for 5+years than you. That being said, not being hot, not being talked about, could also be a blessing.
When you’re not on the radar, you’re left alone. When you’re left alone, underestimated, and even counted out, that builds a real fire within most top tier athletes. It allows them to hunker down, eat their meals, train in peace, and grow. Look at Dexter Jackson, he’s not injured, but he always downplays his chances; he doesn’t lack self-esteem and he certainly knows what he’s capable of, but he’d rather be left alone. Back in the 90’s Dorian would disappear. You’d never hear from him, much less see him. He was all about business when he got ready for the biggest contest in the sport. What if there’s really nothing wrong with Roelly’s knee (now), what if he just got food poisoning in a faraway land, and what if he brings something even more stellar than for the 2018 Olympia. This is something the defending champ and the current Arnold champ should also have in the back of their heads. There’s a very big chance that The Beast will be the one who breaks from the pack and emerges the new winner.
It’s a very exciting time in bodybuilding right now. We have a champion who’s largely in the shadow of Phil Heath, we have a new force in Brandon Curry (where everyone is jumping on the bandwagon) and we also have two possible (though highly unlikely) comebacks in Phil Heath and Kai Greene. The Olympia has also changed leadership, with Dan Solomon now in the driver’s seat, complete with a new team. Anything could happen right now – including unlikely comebacks.. So when I ask can Roelly turn it all around, I’d say yes, I’d say a resounding yes!! I’d say, he could also be BACK IN THAT TOP 3!! How bout them apples?
I’m curious, what’s your take? I look forward to reading your comments, whether here or wherever you may read this article. I hope enjoyed reading my article at Iron Magazine. Finally, be sure to use discount code “IML15” when shopping at IronMagLabs.com to Save 15% Off your purchase.