Keone Pearson, the surprise winner of the 212 Olympia title, has caused a stir on the first day of competition at the 2023 Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend. The 212 Olympia division has seen a rotation of champions since 2018, with a new winner emerging each year. Flex Lewis, a seven-time 212 Olympia champion, was the last bodybuilder to win consecutive titles in this division. Pearson’s exceptional muscle roundness, fullness, definition, symmetry, and balance made him the center of attention as soon as he stepped on stage. Throughout the day, Pearson’s conditioning improved significantly, particularly in his glute and hamstring areas. Overall, his physique was flawless and difficult to fault. This victory has made Pearson the seventh bodybuilder to win the 212 Olympia title.
Interestingly, during his individual posing routine, commentators at the Olympia labeled Pearson as the potential successor to Shaun Clarida, the reigning champion. However, Pearson had other plans in mind.
Pearson earned his IFBB Pro card in the Classic Physique division in 2017, but it wasn’t until 2019 that he secured his first pro show victory at the New York Pro. He made his Olympia debut in the same year, finishing fourth in the Classic Physique division behind Chris Bumstead, Breon Ansley, and George Peterson. Pearson believed that the weight cap for his height division prevented him from reaching his full potential, leading him to make the move to the 212 division in 2020. He immediately found success, winning the 2020 Chicago Pro Show. However, he did not compete at the 2020 Olympia due to personal reasons. Pearson returned to competition in 2021, winning the Chicago Pro convincingly. Unfortunately, his 212 Olympia debut did not go as planned, as he finished in 14th place. He then contemplated returning to the Classic Physique division but ultimately decided against it. This decision proved to be the right one, as he won the 2022 Tampa Pro and improved his Olympia placement to sixth. Pearson’s dedication and hard work paid off as he emerged on the 2023 Olympia stage in the best shape of his career, ultimately securing his victory.
The trend of top bodybuilders from the 212 division transitioning to the Open division has been observed in recent years, with athletes like Hadi Choopan, Derek Lunsford, and William Bonac making the switch. Speculation about the potential dissolution of the 212 division arose after Clarida’s victory at the Legion Sports Fest Pro. However, Bob Cicherillo, the IFBB Pro League Athlete’s Rep, has confirmed that the division will remain intact.
Fitness Volt extends its congratulations to Keone Pearson, his coach, family, and fans for his well-deserved victory in the 212 Olympia division. For comprehensive coverage of the 2023 Mr. Olympia, including pre-judging, event recaps, analysis, and final results, visit FitnessVolt.com/olympia.