Joe Weider’s 59th annual 2023 Mr. Olympia Weekend is here and the press conference kicked off in Orlando, Florida on November 2. During the special event, Hadi Choopan stole the show, and Men’s Physique rivals traded barbs ahead of their anticipated showdown.
“This year we’re doing things a little different,” Dan Solomon shared about the press conference.
The 2023 Mr. Olympia competition is taking place this weekend from November 2-5 inside the Orange County Convention Center. Headlined by the Men’s Open category, there is tons of excitement surrounding the top contenders. While Nick Walker and Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay won’t be competing at this year’s event, fans are still expecting an action-packed extravaganza.
Part of what makes the Olympia Weekend so special is the annual press conference –and this year’s gathering features competitors from all 11 IFBB Pro League divisions. Complete with a celebrity panel of interviewers, the Olympia brand pulled out all of the stops to get fans ready for an immersive experience.
- Phil Heath
- Fouad Abiad
- Lenda Murray
- Shawn Ray
- Ron Harris
- Terrick El Guindy
Men’s Open & Men’s Physique Highlights: Hadi Choopan Says He Will ‘Repeat Again For Sure’
A great defense is a great offense, and Hadi Choopan understands this strategy well. He made it clear that he plans to raise the Sandow trophy once again on Saturday.
“First I want to greet and thank all the fans and audience and the Olympia organization, second, I’m a wolf, and I’m here to do the hunting. I’m not scared of any lions or elephants.”
“Phil you have done this before and repeated as champion many times before so you understand my feelings. Many people train and post videos on YouTube but I’ve been training hard and I will repeat again for sure.”
His main adversary and teammate, Derek Lunsford, assured the audience he plans to step on stage as a “2.0 version” of himself.
“You have to respect the champion of course, he’s a fighter and he’s here to bring the best out of me I’m here to show the 2.0 version of me,” said Derek Lunsford.
Lunsford emphasized that Choopan narrowly bested him in their last outing.
“It was very very close by a coin toss it could have gone either way. He got the victory last year I took the critiques and went back to the drawing board. I’m working with my coach Hany Rambod this is our third year together.”
“We understand each other better, he knows my body better,” added Lunsford. “You got to love this. I live it every single day. I just want to be the absolute best version of myself regardless of who I am standing next to, I’m only focused on me.”
While Lunsford admits comradery is alive in bodybuilding today, he won’t let that cloud his judgment from making history as the first two-division Mr. Olympia champion.
“It absolutely is [comradery is alive in 2023] in this sport but at the same time, I’m here to make history this year to become the first two-division Mr. Olympia champion and the number 18 Mr. Olympia.
There absolutely is good comradery, I respect the champion Hadi Choopan, he’s well respected around the world and in his country, and he’s bringing the best out of us.”
Before the cameras switched to the Men’s Physique competitors, Samson Dauda gave his thoughts on Nick Walker pulling out of 2023 Mr. Olympia due to a torn hamstring.
“To Fouad, honestly me and Nick go way back. I remember when he won the Arnold and I asked him if he wanted to have a training session,” said Dauda. “He showed me how to train my back. He’s been a big support to me and that was only a year ago.”
“To find out what happened to him it’s a sore spot,” Dauda said. “I’m praying for you buddy. Get well soon.”
When asked about his physique for this weekend, Dauda underlined that he has a knack for shocking people:
“I have a thing for shocking people whenever I walk on stage. And I’m good at transforming my physique in a very short period of time. We are going to see a surprise tomorrow don’t you worry about that.”
Erin Banks to Brandon Hendrickson: “He Cried All Year”
Banks explained why he took a risk by competing and losing to Kyron Holden at the 2023 Legion Sports Fest Pro.
“I wanted to grow my division you know. Again, I helped raise so much money for that show teaming up with Chris and Christian Guzman and of course, challenging all the top 10, top 15 people to come compete at that show.”
“He got the 20K, but I’m about to get that 60K,” Erin Banks said. “Absolutely, not [he’s not beating me again]. I’m bringing something totally different from four weeks ago.”
As for Brandon Hendrickson, Banks said he never accepted the 2022 Olympia defeat and said he “cried all year.”
“You thought he beat me last year. He [Brandon Hendrickson] didn’t. Absolutely. No, he didn’t [give me props]. He cried the whole year. He did. Ask him. Next question,” said Banks.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about I haven’t said nothing about that,” replied Hendrickson. It’s not easy but I’ve been here before. I’m the only Men’s Physique Olympia that’s been in these waters before that’s lost the title not only once but twice and has regained it twice. I’ve never lost in Orlando, and I plan to win it again this weekend.”
Holden, who prevented Banks from earning gold in Reno, Nevada four weeks ago, interjected and shared that he wanted to keep the energy positive.
“Absolutely. I want to piggyback off what Jeremy said, purpose, without a shadow of a doubt, I’m out to fill my purpose,” said Kyron Holden. “I want to be that example that it can be done through a different kind of energy. I like to spread love, I like to spread harmony, and I like to spread joy. And that’s what I’ve been doing. That’s what I’ve been saying this entire time and I’m going to complete this mission on Saturday.”
Lastly, Jeremy Buendia discussed his road back to Olympia since last competing four years ago.
“When I lost my Olympia title I was only 26, I was still trying to figure out what my role was and my life and my purpose. After I lost my title I kind of lost my way for a while and made some poor choices and spiraled out for al little while. I found myself in kind of a slump or a hole for a couple of years and it was very hard for me to get out of.”
“Physically I had been dealing with injuries but also the mental aspects of things, trying to be a better person.”
“Going through this prep the past nine months, it’s been a series of obstacles and hurdles and a mental challenge because at the beginning of this prep I didn’t believe I could do it. Physically my body has been through a lot. Mentally I wasn’t in a good space and everyone was telling me the division had outgrown me.”
Having documented his nutrition, training, and physique updates, Jeremy Buendia hopes to establish himself as a title contender once again when he steps on the stage in Orlando, Florida. With so many contenders capable of taking Banks’ title, time will tell if he’s able to retain the championship.
Meanwhile, Hadi Choopan will lead a hungry pack of contenders on Friday night and Saturday night as he aims to cement himself as a two-time Mr. Olympia. Don’t miss the action here at Fitness Volt: we have got you covered with predictions, previews, results, and more!”