Former IFBB Pro League bodybuilder Chris Cormier recently reflected on the 2002 Mr. Olympia competition during a recent Prime Time Muscle podcast. Cormier spoke about the time when Gunter Schlierkamp presented one of his career’s best packages, which led to a close competition with Ronnie Coleman. Schlierkamp, a German professional bodybuilder, was known for his size and muscularity and was predicted to become a future Mr. Olympia winner if his conditioning was on par with his contemporaries. He shared the stage with several big names in the sport like Flex Wheeler, Cormier, Coleman, and Jay Cutler.
Schlierkamp had a successful tenure lasting over 15 years and was well-respected in the industry. He believed that he could have placed higher in a few contests, but he also said that winners weren’t hand-picked. His remarks came after Kevin Levrone, a former professional bodybuilder, suspected that outside factors and politics played a role in determining which bodybuilders ultimately won gold and represented the brand.
Cormier relived his 2002 Mr. Olympia experience during the podcast. He said that Gunter Schlierkamp was leading the show ahead of Ronnie Coleman during prejudging. Although Schlierkamp finished fifth, Cormier said it was one of his best looks of all time. According to Cormier, Joe Weider, the founder of the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB), warned him that Schlierkamp was on track to challenge for gold in 2002. It should be noted that Schlierkamp defeated Coleman at the 2002 GNC Show of Strength. Cormier said, “We were in Amsterdam, competed in Europe, myself, Ronnie, all the crew, Dexter, we’re all there, and we were a little tired. We were coming from a little tour in Europe. Then, we were in Amsterdam, so we were eating the cookies, and I was eating the cookies. Yup. I was in good shape. I wasn’t worried about it. We went there to New Orleans, on our way there, Joe Weider was talking to someone at the time on the tour and expressed to us how good Gunter was looking and that he’s possibly going to be giving Ronnie some trouble – that he was in that good of shape.”
Cormier said that during the competition, he, Coleman, and Schlierkamp all won some shots. He highlighted that shape and aesthetics were highly favored by judges at the time. Cormier said, “I think they had Gunter in first place after the symmetry round, so I’m pissed, I kind of go off on him about it after the prejudging, ‘How the hell you get first place in the symmetry round?’ I’m just kind of like, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ He and his wife at the time were going back and forth with me in the lobby, I was pissed, don’t be telling me you’re winning the symmetry round, come on man, you know you don’t deserve that shit.”
Cormier still believes that Schlierkamp brought one of his best physiques of all time, even though Cormier placed third ahead of him. Olympia judge Terrick El Guindy agreed with Cormier, saying that Schlierkamp’s combination of size, fullness, and conditioning was one of his most complete packages to date. El Guindy said, “I think he changed dieticians and something, he did something a lot different. I know he was training with Charles Glass back in the day. He came in a lot different in that show. That was probably the peak show of his career.” Cormier added, “I would win some shots, Gunter would win some shots, Ronnie would win, but at that time, it was a lot of shape and a lot of aesthetics going on in the judging and the flavor of that type of year. It just kind of hit everyone by surprise. Kevin Levrone jumped on the stage and congratulated him and was so happy for Hunter because he thought in his mind, now the blood is in the water, now I can get Ronnie too. If Gunter can beat him, I could beat him. I was pissed till I got my check that day.”
Despite his ability to push the pace with some of the biggest mass monsters the sport has seen, Gunter appears happy with his downsized physique since stepping away from bodybuilding. The last time fans heard from Schlierkamp, he joined Dennis Wolf for a workout at 52. Fans were taken aback by his jacked biceps in retirement.
In conclusion, the 2002 Mr. Olympia competition was a close competition, with Gunter Schlierkamp presenting one of his best packages, challenging Ronnie Coleman for the gold. Although Schlierkamp finished fifth, his size, fullness, and conditioning were highly favored by judges at the time. Despite the controversy surrounding the competition, Chris Cormier, Kevin Levrone, and Terrick El Guindy all agreed that Schlierkamp’s performance was impressive. It is clear that Schlierkamp made a significant impact on the sport of bodybuilding during his tenure, and his legacy continues to be remembered today.