Mr. Olympia champion Derek Lunsford didn’t hesitate to share who he thinks will be in the Arnold Classic’s top three. During a recent Instagram story post, Lunsford named Hadi Choopan, Samson Dauda, and Rafael Brandao as his picks for the 2024 Arnold Classic in Ohio from February 29 through March 3.
Derek Lunsford garnered attention early on with victories in prestigious competitions like the NPC nationals and the 2017 Tampa Pro before taking to the Mr. Olympia stage. Just a few years after making his Olympia debut, Lunsford would take first place at the 2021 Men’s 212 Olympia defeating names like former two-time champ Shaun Clarida and Kamal Elgargni.
The following year, Derek Lunsford accepted a special invite to compete in the Men’s Open division where he defeated competitors such as Brandon Curry and Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay. Placing only second to champion Hadi Choopan at the 2022 Mr. Olympia, Lunsford demonstrated his potential to compete at the highest level.
It was at the 2023 Mr. Olympia where Derek Lunsford showcased his exceptional physique, posing skills, and stage presence to secure the Sandow Trophy. This win not only made him the Mr. Olympia champion but also the first two-division Olympia titleholder in bodybuilding.
Mr. Olympia Champion Derek Lunsford Shares His Top Three Picks For The 2024 Arnold Classic
Now, Derek Lunsford is sharing his picks for the upcoming Arnold Classic taking place in Columbus, Ohio from February 29th to March 3rd. However, it should be noted, he did not specify placements, and simply listed his picks in this order:
Check out the video courtesy of a re-share from the Nick’s Strength and Power YouTube channel:
With Hadi Choopan aiming for a comeback, expectations are high as he seeks redemption, leaving no stone unturned as he refines his physique. Samson Dauda, meanwhile, is also making steady progress as he continues showing consistent improvements with each competition appearance. Over just months, Dauda picked up major victories at the highly competitive Romania Muscle Fest Pro and EVLS Prague Pro.
In addition to these Open stars, talent from Brazil intends to make a big splash, including Rafael Brandao, a former Arnold Classic South America winner and Horse MD (real name: Marcello De Angelis), who is currently being coached by Milos Sarcev. Based on Horse MD’s third-place appearance at the 2023 Romania Muscle Fest Pro, he remains a massive threat headed into the second-greatest bodybuilding event of the year.
While Derek Lunsford has opted to sit out of the 2024 Arnold Classic, some notable voices in the sport would have loved to see him compete in Ohio. Former four-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler suggested as much recently on his Cutler Cast podcast.
Time will tell who emerges victorious at this year’s Arnold Classic but one thing is certain: Derek Lunsford sees the competition as a two-man battle between ‘The Persian Wolf’ and ‘The Nigerian Lion.’