By Joe Pietaro Muscle Sport Magazine
He finally made it official with an announcement on social media after months of speculation. Phil Heath will return to the Olympia stage in December to try and tie the all-time record of eight titles held by both Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman. “The Gift” was riding high with seven consecutive Sandows until being derailed by Shawn Rhoden in 2018, a loss he did not take quietly.
Heath was very critical of the judges not the day after the show when he made some public statements, but rather a week later once he had time to give it some thought. He did an interview with “Generation Iron” and said that he had not been contacted by any of the judges or IFBB officials and still had no idea why he lost. In hindsight, he knocked the promos for the show and even the creation of “The People’s Champion,” both which he said undermined his position as the seven-time defending champion.
Another point of contention for Heath was that in following the prejudging, he was informed by his coach Dany Rambod that it was going to be a close call and he “may be in trouble” of losing. Heath then took it upon himself to ask a few IFBB officials (he wouldn’t identify them, but rather just said that they know who they are) how close was it between he and Rhoden. He was told to prepare himself, thus answering the question without actually answering it. Heath bitched and moaned how all of the officials made nice with Rhoden basking in the glory while ignoring him.
Even though the Olympia has changed hands with ownership (from AMI to Jake Wood of Wings of Strength), the ‘Powers That Be’ are all still in place and have long memories. Heath is also older, had underwent surgeries and will be over two years removed from his last show with the COVID-19 date change from September to December. Even under different circumstances, it would be a tough hill to climb.
Sure, Heath can certainly come in to Las Vegas looking just as good as he did the last time around and may even be in some people’s opinion the best out there. But that doesn’t mean he will get the nod.
We will stick to our earlier prediction that James “Flex” Lewis will win the 2020 Mr. Olympia regardless if Heath comes in on point or not.