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HomeBodybuilding NewsUnstoppable Champions on Wheels: The Reigning Wheelchair Olympians since 2018!

Unstoppable Champions on Wheels: The Reigning Wheelchair Olympians since 2018!

Ask any bodybuilding fan about the most inspiring division at the Olympia Weekend, and you’ll get the same answer — Wheelchair Olympia! Harold Kelley etched his name into the history books by winning the inaugural Wheelchair Olympia contest. He is also the winningest bodybuilder in the division, having reigned on the Olympia throne for five consecutive years. Polish bodybuilder Karol Milewski is the reigning Wheelchair Olympia champion. In this article, we delve into the annals of the Wheelchair Olympia, spotlighting every champion who has claimed the title while also exploring the division’s storied past.

All Wheelchair Olympia Winners

Wheelchair bodybuilders are judged solely on their upper body development. Furthermore, the judging criteria might change for each bodybuilder depending on the scope of their disability. Bodybuilders with higher lumbar spine injuries (L1, L2, and L3) are not judged based on their lower back and abdominal development.

Given below is the list of all Wheelchair Olympia champs since 2018:

2018–2022: Harold Kelley
Harold “King Kong” Kelley is the most dominating pro Wheelchair bodybuilder ever. He has five Wheelchair Olympia and six Arnold Classic titles to his name. Kelley’s muscle size, shape, separation, and definition set him apart from the competition.

2018: Las Vegas, NV
First — Harold Kelley
Second — Anand Arnold
Third — Ludovic Marchand

Kelley won the inaugural Wheelchair Olympia contest convincingly. Indian bodybuilder Anand Arnold took the silver medal, whereas Ludovic Marchand of France clinched the final spot on the podium.

2019: Las Vegas, NV
First — Harold Kelley
Second — Gabriele Andriulli
Third — Kris Dim

Kelley did a repeat at the 2019 Olympia. While Kelley established himself as the number one bodybuilder in this division, Italian bodybuilder Gabriele Andriulli’s strong showing added him to the upper echelons of the pro Wheelchair division.

2020: Orlando, FL
First — Harold Kelley
Second — Antoni Khadraoui
Third — Adelfo Cerame Jr.

Kelley entered the 2020 Olympia as the favorite to win the show and successfully extended his lead. The other podium finishers at the 2020 Wheelchair Olympia were Antoni Khadraoui and Adelfo Cerame Jr., respectively.

2021: Orlando, FL
First — Harold Kelley
Second — Gabriele Andriulle
Third — Antoni Khadraoui

Kelley captured his fourth-consecutive Wheelchair Olympia title at the 57th Olympia Weekend in Orlando, FL. This year also marked the reemergence of Gabriele Andriulle, who gave Kelley a run for his money. However, he ultimately had to settle for a silver medal.

Ronnie Coleman presented Kelley with the 2021 Wheelchair Olympia award while seated in his wheelchair following spine surgery.

2021 was a special year for the Wheelchair division as Jen Pasky Jaquin became the first female Wheelchair athlete to earn her IFBB Pro Card.

2022: Las Vegas, NV
First — Harold Kelley
Second — Gabriele Andriulle
Third — Antoni Khadraoui

The 2022 Wheelchair Olympia results were a repeat of the previous year. This year’s contest was especially exciting since Gabriele Andriulle had defeated Kelley at the 2022 Arnold Classic, making him the most formidable contender for Kelley’s crown. However, Kelley successfully defended his Olympia throne at the 57th edition of the Super Bowl of Bodybuilding. He also recaptured the Arnold Classic Pro Wheelchair title in 2023, taking his AC championship tally to six.

2023: Karol Milewski
Karol Milewski’s first pro show was the 2022 Arnold Classic UK. However, he managed to turn heads by clinching the bronze medal in a stacked lineup. With momentum behind him, Milewski entered the 2023 Sheru Classic UK Pro and won his first Pro show.

Milewski’s picture-perfect V-taper and rock-hard, shredded physique distinguished him from the rest of the field. The Polish bodybuilder’s upper body balance, symmetry, and conditioning make him a threat for every show he enters.

2023: Orlando, FL
First — Karol Milewski
Second — Harold Kelley
Third — Antoni Khadraoui

Kelley had the Wheelchair Olympia division in a headlock, but that changed when Karol Milewski showed up for his debut Olympia appearance in 2023. Milewski beat Kelley by one point, clinching his maiden Olympia gold medal. Karol Milewski became the second bodybuilder ever to win the Wheelchair Olympia throne and the first bodybuilder to defeat Kelley on the Olympia stage. Kelley’s loss to Milewski was among the biggest upsets at the 2023 Olympia Weekend.

History of the Wheelchair Olympia Division

The Wheelchair division is undoubtedly the most inspiring at the Olympia Weekend. Contrary to what most people think, the Wheelchair division is not new. The 1994 NPC was the first Wheelchair bodybuilding competition organized by NPC/IFBB.

The IFBB Pro League, the biggest bodybuilding federation in the world, is constantly evolving and making the sport of bodybuilding more accessible to more people around the world. In this effort, the NPC (National Physique Committee) organized Wheelchair Nationals in 1994. The inaugural IFBB Pro Wheelchair Bodybuilding contest debuted as a feature of the 2011 IFBB Houston Pro, which skyrocketed the division’s popularity.

The Wheelchair Divison grew steadily over the years and was finally added to the Olympia roster in 2018. The Chairman and CEO of WCBB (Wheelchair Bodybuilding), Nick Scott, has been a driving force behind the growth of the Wheelchair division and has gotten the contest to the biggest stages in the sport — Mr. Olympia and Arnold Classic.

During the stage introductions at the Wheelchair Olympia, Nick Scott narrates how each athlete transitioned to wheelchair life. The Wheelchair division was added to the Arnold Classic, the second-biggest bodybuilding show on the planet, in 2016. Harold Kelley has won the Arnold Classic title every year, except in 2022, when Gabriele Andriulli briefly interrupted his streak to claim the crown for that year.

The Wheelchair Olympia is usually held on the second day of the contest during the Olympia Weekend. It is the only contest at the Olympia, with just one round. The Wheelchair Olympia champ is announced during the morning session, while the other division champs are crowned in the evening.

Wheelchair Division Rules

According to NPC News Online, Wheelchair division aspirants “must primarily use a wheelchair for at least 99% of their daily ambulation,” and must have a permanent physical disability. The division is open to both men and women, and competitors are required to perform a series of mandatory poses.

The Wheelchair Olympia division has provided a platform for inspiring athletes to showcase their strength, determination, and dedication. It has become an integral part of the Olympia Weekend, highlighting the inclusivity and diversity of the bodybuilding community. The champions of the Wheelchair Olympia have left an indelible mark on the sport, showing that nothing can limit the pursuit of greatness.

As the Wheelchair Olympia continues to grow, it serves as a reminder that bodybuilding is not just about physical appearance, but also about the inner strength and resilience that athletes possess. The division is a testament to the power of the human spirit and the ability to overcome any obstacle.

The Wheelchair Olympia champions have become heroes and role models, inspiring others to push past their limitations and achieve their dreams. They have shown that with hard work, dedication, and a never-give-up attitude, anything is possible.

The Wheelchair Olympia division is a shining example of the inclusivity and diversity that exists within the world of bodybuilding. It is a celebration of the human spirit and the pursuit of excellence, regardless of physical limitations. The champions of the Wheelchair Olympia have proven that true strength comes from within and that the body is capable of achieving incredible feats.

As the Wheelchair Olympia continues to evolve and grow, it will undoubtedly inspire future generations of athletes to push the boundaries of what is possible. The division is a testament to the power of the human spirit and the unwavering determination to overcome any obstacle in the pursuit of greatness.

Stan Quinn
Stan Quinn
Stan Quinn, the founder of "The Body Builder" and formerly Body Guider, isn't just a business owner – he embodies the spirit of holistic fitness. With a degree in sports nutrition, Stan blends academic knowledge with practical expertise, ensuring that his gym members receive not just physical training but also nutritional guidance tailored to their unique needs. Over the years, Stan's passion for fitness has extended beyond the gym's walls. As a fervent sports enthusiast, he understands the intricacies of athletic performance and is dedicated to helping both amateur athletes and fitness novices achieve their goals. Under his leadership, "The Body Builder" has grown from a mere gym to a comprehensive fitness hub where every member feels empowered, educated, and inspired. Stan's commitment to excellence, combined with his in-depth understanding of sports nutrition, makes him a revered figure in the fitness community.

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