Derek Lunsford on Nov. 1 (Instagram) Andrew Jacked on August 13 (NPCNewsOnline)
One of the most exciting things about this year’s Mr. Olympia is the rookie class, which is the most promising since the 1990s. There are three first-time Mr. Olympia competitors who, if they peak properly, should land in the top 10 and could potentially shake up the top five: ANDREW JACKED, MICHAL KRIZO, and DEREK LUNSFORD. We’ll focus on each of them in more detail, but, before we do, let’s shout out two more Mr. Olympia rookies with the size to make an impact: Ukrainian 26-year-old VLAD SUHORUCHKO and 30-year-old Nigerian-Brit SAMSON DAUDA. With a record 33 bodybuilders qualifying for this year’s Mr. Olympia, a lot of excellent competitors will be left outside the big money placings of the top 10. How will the first-timers fare? We’ll find out on December 16-17.
Chinedu Andrew Obiekea, known as Andrew Jacked, took the bodybuilding world by storm in 2022. The 6’2″ Nigerian-born bodybuilder, who currently resides in Dubai, sports a stupendous X-frame and one of the most aesthetic physiques in the IFBB Pro League. After a short run of success in the IFBB Elite Pro, he earned IFBB Pro League status by winning the Arnold Amateur in March. At 37, he’s an old rookie, but he also has a very “finished” physique. Jacked promptly won the first two pro shows he entered: the Texas Pro in August and the Arnold U.K. in September.
Andrew Jacked’s undefeated streak will likely end at the Mr. Olympia in December. He’ll get outmuscled in some poses, but his potential is boundless. And if the judges favor a more aesthetic look, this rookie, who turns 38 in January, has a good shot at cracking the top five in his Mr. Olympia debut. Is he a future Mr. Olympia?
Like Andrew Jacked, Slovakian goliath Michal Križo Križánek switched from the IFBB Elite Pro (where he had won 13 of the 14 shows he entered) and had to qualify for both the IFBB Pro League by winning a top amateur contest and qualify for the Mr. Olympia by winning an IFBB Pro League contest. And also like Jacked, he did so convincingly. The 6’1″, 31-year-old Krizo won the Amateur Olympia Europe in October and the EVLS Prague Pro last weekend.
At the Mr. Olympia, Krizo will finally face top competition. Boy, will he ever! Used to dominating lesser pro contests and even an amateur show, how will he fare when he’s suddenly in bodybuilding’s Super Bowl with the likes of Big Ramy, Brandon Curry, and Hadi Choopan? His lack of back width will be a liability, but he carries a lot of muscle at around 290 lbs., without looking blocky. There certainly could be a place for Krizo in the top 10, despite what promises to be the biggest Mr. Olympia lineup ever, but the vaulted top five seems like a stretch this year. Still, we really won’t know until Krizo stands next to a lot of bodybuilders he’s never stood next to before. And that’s what makes this year’s Mr. Olympia and it’s rookie class so compelling.
It’s hard to believe that there was a time, not that long ago, when Derek Lunsford’s legs were undersized. But he now has a whole new physique. Without the weight constraints of the 212 division (212 pounds or less), last year’s 212 Mr. Olympia champ promises to be one of the thickest bodybuilders in the open (no weight constraints) Mr. Olympia lineup, and he’ll be sporting two of the biggest show’s biggest wheels. The 5’6″, 29-year-old Lunsford has the potential to muscle his way into the top 10 and maybe, just maybe, the top five.
We’ve seen the new supersized version of him this year guest-posing and in Instagram posts and YouTube videos, but we’ve never seen Derek Lunsford 2.0 in contest shape. He was given a special invite (meaning he didn’t have to qualify by winning an open pro contest), so the 2022 Mr. Olympia will be his open pro debut. That makes Derek Lunsford one of the biggest wild cards in Vegas this December. How high can he place? Stay tuned.