All photos: OlympiaTV
There’s a new 212 Mr. Olympia, and he’s an old 212 Mr. Olympia. For only the second time in the 13-year history of the 212 Olympia (initial contest excluded), there was no defending champion in 2022. (Last year’s champ, Derek Lunsford, moved up to the open Mr. Olympia this year.) However, there were two previous winners in this year’s 212 Olympia: 2019 champ Kamal El-Gargni and 2020 champ Shaun Clarida. They were part of a three-way contest with Angel Calderon. At prejudging, the trio made up the crucial final callout, and the judges put them through the eight mandatory poses twice, with each man spending time in the all-important middle spot. We’re a long way from when Flex Lewis ran away with this title annually. The 2022 212 Olympia appeared wide open, but were the judges in Vegas just bluffing? Probably. In the end, Shaun Clarida convincingly won his second 212 Olympia title.
212 OLYMPIA 2022: TOP 3
American Shaun Clarida, 40, is only 5’2″, but he’s proven his combination of muscle density and crisp conditioning can win even the biggest pro shows. He won an open show last year and qualified for the Mr. Olympia, but wisely chose to go for the 212 Olympia again this time. His quad detailing (all those feathering cross striations) was the best in the contest, and his curvy arms and broad back also won him poses. At prejudging, Clarida appeared to be the clear victor, and the scorecard (see below) confirmed he won his second 212 O title with straight firsts.
Like Clarida, Spain’s Angel Calderon qualified for the open Mr. Olympia this year but stayed in the 212 division. Call them both giant killers. Calderon’s wide shoulders helped him in front and rear relaxed shots, and his size could overpower others in comparisons, but he was also blockier than his other two in the three-way, final callout. Ultimately, the Spaniard’s breadth advantage won out over El-Gargni in a three-point decision, but it was truly an apples or oranges decision.
Incredibly, the ageless Kamal El-Gargni turned 51 last month. And yet the 5’7″ Libyan who resides in England shows no signs of slowing down. He was the narrowest and smallest of the top trio, but brought his usual panoply of cuts, most evident in his back density and definition. Mr. Consistency, in five 212 Olympias, El-Gargni has been in the top three every time.
212 OLYMPIA 2022: THE BEST OF THE REST
The second-to-last callout consisted of a mixture of old and new faces (and bodies) from around the globe: Kerrith Bajjo, Oleh Kryvyi, Keone Pearson, Ahmad Ashkanani, and Felipe Moraes.
Due to a lat imbalance, Bajjo looks better from the front than the rear. (He won the biceps shot above but lost the rear lat spread below.) Ashkanani, second in this contest in 2016 and 2017, still has his phenomenal rear lat spread, but he also had the widest waist. Kryvyi possessed that rare grainy look, and was arguably the best-conditioned man in the show. It was good to see him get rewarded with a top five “money finish.” Moraes brought the cuts and aesthetics, but got out-muscled in some poses.
Speaking of aesthetics, Pearson moved from classic physique (he was fourth in the 2019 Classic Physique Olympia) to the 212 in 2020, but crapped out of last year’s 212 Olympia, landing in 14th. He was better this year, with his outrageous X-frame (so rare in the 212 division) drawing eyes. Still, he was too blurry for the top five. If Pearson can nail his conditioning, he can win this contest in some future year.
212 OLYMPIA 2022 PLACINGS
1. Shaun Clarida ($50,000)
2. Angel Calderon ($20,000)
3. Kamal El-Gargni ($10,000)
4. Ahmad Ashkanani ($6000)
5. Oleh Kryvyi ($4000)
6. Keone Pearson
7. Kerrith Bajjo
8. Felipe Moraes
9. Bryan Balzano
10. Dean White