The Mr. Olympia contest serves as the grand finale of Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend. The roof of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, almost blew off when the emcee, Bob Cicherillo, announced Derek Lunsford as the “NEW Mr. Olympia champion.”
Derek Lunsford etched his name in the annals of bodybuilding by becoming the first bodybuilder to win the Olympia title in multiple divisions. He won the 212 Olympia title in 2021 and hoisted the Sandow trophy in 2023. The muscle mass and definition he packed on in just two years to pull off this achievement is nothing short of astounding.
Lunsford had placed runner-up behind Mr. Olympia champ Hadi Choopan in 2022 after he applied for and received a special invite to compete in the Men’s Open division. Lunsford returned with a vengeance this year and upset Choopan to bag his maiden Sandow trophy!
The then-reigning champ Hadi Choopan and 2023 Arnold Classic winner Samson Dauda were the other two bodybuilders in the race to win the Mr. Olympia title at the end of the prejudging round on Day One of the competition. However, Lunsford broke out from the pack during the finals as he tightened up from the day before and brought a significantly more diced physique.
The crowd went berserk as soon as Lunsford turned around and started hitting the back poses during the finals. Lunsford has become the 18th bodybuilder to win the Mr. Olympia title in the show’s 59-year history. Besides $400,000, the coveted Sandow trophy, and the Olympia gold medal, Lunsford also won the People’s Choice Award at the 2023 Olympia.
Background & History
Born on May 14, 1993, in Petersburg, IN, Lunsford had a very active childhood. He engaged in high school wrestling, setting the stage for his remarkable journey in competitive sports.
Lunsford transitioned into weight training after discovering his college didn’t offer a wrestling program. After a few initial hiccups, Lunsford found his footing, and his physique started to evolve into a masterpiece.
Drawing inspiration from Jay Cutler and Phil Heath, Lunsford started competing in bodybuilding shows. He competed in the Men’s Open division in his first show, the 2015 NPC Indianapolis Championships, and won it convincingly. Lunsford earned his Pro card in 2017 by placing runner-up at the NPC USA Championships.
Lunsford emerged victorious at his Pro debut — the 2017 IFBB Tampa Pro in the 212 division within one month of turning pro. This win earned him a direct Olympia qualification. A month after winning his first Pro show, Lunsford placed fifth at his Olympia debut, proving he had immense potential.
Lunsford clinched the silver medal at the 2018 and 2019 212 Olympia. However, he slipped to the fourth place at the 2020 Olympia. Lunsford plugged all the gaps in his physique and returned to the Olympia stage stronger than ever, winning his maiden 212 Olympia title in 2021.
To everyone’s surprise, Lunsford vacated his 212 Olympia throne in 2022 and announced a move up to the Men’s Open division. Although many people doubted Lunsford’s decision then, the risk paid big time for him as he became the 18th bodybuilder in the show’s history to win the Mr. Olympia (Men’s Open division) title.
The competition in the Mr. Olympia Men’s Open division has intensified immensely over the last few years, with a surge of elite athletes making their mark in the category.
Gone are the days when a new champ reigned on the Olympia throne for extended years. Nowadays, a minor slip at the show allows the other top-tier athletes enough leeway to pull the Olympia throne from beneath the defending champion.
Lunsford is well aware of this and will hopefully avoid making the mistake of resting on his laurels. The pro show judges and fans have come to expect a bigger and better physique from Lunsford at each successive show. Maintaining the same physique is not enough; a Mr. Olympia champ must outdo his previous performance every time he steps on stage to hold onto his title.
Fitness Volt extends hearty congratulations to Derek Lunsford on securing his well-deserved maiden Mr. Olympia title win. The 2023 Olympia Weekend was nothing short of spectacular, and our anticipation for the 60th edition of the show in 2024 is already at an all-time high.
2023 Olympia Results
- 2023 Mr. Olympia Results All Divisions
- 2023 Classic Physique Olympia Results
- 2023 Men’s Physique Olympia Results
- 2023 Bikini Olympia Results
- 2023 Wheelchair Olympia Results
- 2023 212 Olympia Results
- 2023 Fitness Olympia Results
- 2023 Figure Olympia Results
- 2023 Women’s Physique Olympia Results
- 2023 Ms. Olympia Results
- 2023 Wellness Olympia Results