Ms Olympia No More
Ms. Olympia was the title given to the winner of the women’s bodybuilding portion of Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend. This is an international competition of professional body building that is held annually by the International Federation of Body Builders [IFBB]. Sadly this award was last received in 2014 as the Ms Olympia title was retired concurrently along with its recipient, Iris Kyle, that same year.
History of the competition
This competition was first held in 1980. The objective of the competition was to determine who was the best pro women’s bodybuilder in the world. The competition was more or less the female outfit of the more popular Mr. Olympia, which was the men’s side of competition. Ms Olympia was held as a standalone event for the first 20 years. In 1985, the bodybuilding aspect of Ms Olympia was threatened by the emergence of other categories such as the fitness and physique categories. What contributed to the success and popularity of these categories, and much to the detriment of the bodybuilding one, was the fact that contestants could wear bikinis. In addition, the categories shifted the focus of competition from muscle size to muscle definition. Starting from the year 2000 however, the competition was held at the same time as the Mr. Olympia contest which together formed the Olympia Weekend. Another change that occurred in the year 2000 was the division of the women’s bodybuilding competition into two classes namely the heavyweight (over 135 pounds) and the lightweight (under 135 pounds).
The first winner of Ms Olympia was Rachel McLish but she was dethroned only a year later by Ritva Elomaa before regaining the title in 1982. McLish did not however take part in the 1983 event and that year’s winner was Carla Dunlap. Perhaps one of the notable winners of Ms Olympia in the earlier years of the competition would be Corinna Everson, having won the title for six consecutive years from 1984 to 1989. The title has since changed hands, almost every year. In the year 2000, there was no overall winner but starting in 2001, a pose-down between the two class winners decided the overall winner. However, the contest was later to return to the open class format in the year 2005. Corinna Everson may have made a name in the early years of this competition, but the most successful winner of Ms Olympia is Iris Kyle, having bagged her a whopping ten wins overall and two heavyweights. Lenda Murray follow closely with eight wins and Kim Chizevsky-Nicholas comes after Corinna Everson with four wins.
Ms. Olympia is Discontinued
On June 7, 2013, something unprecedented was about to happen to Ms Olympia. Mr. Jim Lorimer, an event promoter of the Arnold Sports Festival, announced that the Ms International women’s bodybuilding competition at the 2014 Arnold Sports Festival would be replaced by the Arnold Classic 212 professional men’s bodybuilding. Mr. Lorimer claimed that while they took pride in supporting women’s bodybuilding through the Ms. International for the past quarter century, the move to shift focus was inspired by public demand. In addition, it is worth noting that previous Ms Olympia events had not gone without their fair share of criticism, especially with regards to femininity of the competitors. There was often an outcry that the competitors looked more like men, a fact that could have given Mr Lorimer more impetus to shift focus. At the 2014 Ms. Olympia, Iris Kyle won her 10th overall Olympia win and with that, she announced her retirement from bodybuilding. The year also saw the end of the Ms. Olympia competition.
Can Ms. Olympia Resurface?
While there is very little coming from the National Physique Committee [NPC] with regards to the reemergence of the Ms Olympia competition, the announcement by the Wings of Strength on March 8, 2015 regarding the creation of the Rising Phoenix World Championships may have given Ms Olympia fans something to smile about. This competition is sponsored by Wings of Strength company founded by Jake and Kristal Wood, promoted by Tim Gardner productions, and sanctioned by the International Federation of Bodybuilders. With the creation of the Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championships fans can see a semblance of Ms Olympia. The women’s bodybuilding sport is no stranger to change, and I am sure that these women and their supporters will keep this movement going.