2024 Arnold Classic Men’s Open Preview

In the realm of bodybuilding, where muscle meets artistry, the anticipation is building for the 35th annual Arnold Classic set to unfold in Columbus, Ohio from February 29 to March 3.

This prestigious event, the brainchild of bodybuilding icon Arnold Schwarzenegger, serves as a battleground for the Men’s Open division—a showcase of raw power, sculpted physiques, and unparalleled dedication.

As we stand on the cusp of this monumental competition, let’s delve into the riveting world of the top contenders, dark horses, and the unfolding narratives that promise to captivate bodybuilding enthusiasts worldwide.

The Arnold Classic Legacy: A Glimpse Into History

The Arnold Classic, a fixture in the bodybuilding calendar since 1989, has etched its name as the second most coveted title in the sport.

From Rich Gaspari’s inaugural triumph to the modern era dominated by athletes like Jay Cutler and Dexter Jackson, the event has been a proving ground for the elite.

The 2024 edition marks the 35th milestone, a testament to the enduring legacy that continues to shape the trajectory of bodybuilding careers.

The Gladiators of the Arena: 2024 Arnold Classic Open Bodybuilding Competitors

Before the first pose, the battle lines are drawn. Let’s take a glance at the formidable lineup that will grace the stage in Columbus:

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A diverse array of talent converges, each athlete bringing a unique blend of strengths, aesthetics, and determination.

The roster is a melting pot of experience, with seasoned veterans and rising stars poised to leave an indelible mark on the Arnold Classic legacy.

The Maestros of Muscle: 2024 Arnold Classic Top Contenders

Samson Dauda: Defending the Throne

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The reigning champion, Samson Dauda, enters the fray with a target on his back and a hunger to cement his status as a dominant force in the Men’s Open division.

Fresh off victories at the Romania Muscle Fest Pro and EVLS Prague Pro, Samson Dauda’s activity and consistent improvement make him a formidable contender.

Having shared the stage with Hadi Choopan at the last Olympia, Samson Dauda is poised to use the Arnold Classic as a springboard toward claiming the coveted Sandow trophy.

Hadi Choopan: The Persian Sensation

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via hadi choopan instagram

Hadi Choopan, a former Mr. Olympia winner, makes his Arnold Classic debut, bringing with him a reputation for jaw-dropping conditioning and hard muscularity.

Hadi Choopan‘s resolve is fueled by a runner-up finish in the last Olympia, a result that left him walking off stage during Derek Lunsford’s victory.

With a chip on his shoulder, Hadi Choopan eyes the gold in Ohio, inching closer to reclaiming the prestigious Sandow trophy.

Rafael Brandao: The Brazilian Virtuoso

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Rafael Brandao, hailing from Brazil, emerges as a frontrunner with a physique characterized by symmetry, shape, and completeness.

A victor at the 2022 Arnold Classic South America, Rafael Brandao is no stranger to competing at the highest echelons. Despite a setback due to Dengue Fever, his return promises added size and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

As an IFBB Pro with a solid reputation, Rafael Brandao is set to showcase his best on the Arnold Classic stage.

Marcello De Angelis: ‘Horse MD’ Charging In

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Known as ‘Horse MD,’ Marcello De Angelis has undergone a remarkable transformation, adding both size and detail to his physique.

Trained by Milos Sarcev, De Angelis has seamlessly transitioned from the Classic Physique division, securing a third-place finish at the 2023 Romania Muscle Fest Pro.

His proportions, conditioning, and vascularity give him a unique advantage as he vies for supremacy in the Open class.

James Hollingshead: The Towering Force

James Hollingshead bodybuilder
via james hollingshead instagram

James Hollingshead, standing tall and powerful, seeks redemption after utilizing 2022 as an extended off-season to refine his physique.

As one of the tallest competitors on the roster, James Hollingshead’s density presents a formidable challenge. Sneak-peek progress photos hint at an imposing package, with pronounced hamstrings and a massive chest.

The Arnold Classic marks James Hollingshead’s debut in the competition, and he aims to make an unforgettable entrance.

Jonathan De La Rosa: The Wildcard

Jonathan De La Rosa, armed with over a decade of experience as an IFBB Pro, steps into the Men’s Open ranks as a wildcard.

His journey includes consecutive second-place finishes at the 2023 Chicago Pro and the Tampa Pro, showcasing a commendable blend of size and experience.

Battle-tested and focused, Jonathan De La Rosa aims to make a significant impact in the first call-out.

The Dark Horses: Unleashing the Unexpected

Beyond the spotlight, a group of dark horses awaits, poised to disrupt expectations and leave an indelible mark on the competition:

Antoine Vaillant: The Electric Canadian

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via antoine vaillant instagram

Antoine Vaillant, a dynamic force from Canada, injects electric energy onto the stage with his charismatic posing skills.

Overcoming a mysterious heart condition, Antoine Vaillant has meticulously crafted his physique, making meaningful improvements to his aesthetics.

Having last competed at the 2022 Mr. Olympia, Antoine Vaillant is eager to showcase his evolution and stake his claim among the sport’s elite.

Mohamed Shaaban: The Prodigal Return

mohamed shaaban arnold classic
via mohamed shaaban instagram

Mohamed Shaaban, a seasoned Pro and bodybuilding veteran, embarks on the 2024 Arnold Classic with ambitious plans.

Taking time away from the stage to refine his physique, Mohamed Shaaban, known for his proportions and symmetry, aims to reestablish himself as a force in the Men’s Open class.

With minimal online presence, Mohamed Shaaban emerges as a dark horse capable of making waves on the grand stage.

Akim Williams: ‘The Beast’ Reloaded

akim williams arnold classic 2024
via akim williams instagram

Akim ‘The Beast’ Williams, despite contemplating retirement in the coming years, refuses to let up on his training intensity.

A formidable presence, Akim Williams showcased his resilience at the 2023 Arnold Classic, earning sixth place despite battling an injured shoulder.

Now, fully recovered, Akim Williams asserts that he will be an even more formidable force. As a proven contender, Akim Williams is a wildcard worth watching.

Justin Rodriguez: The Fearless Competitor

justin rodriguez arnold classic
via justin rodriguez instagram

Justin Rodriguez, no stranger to the bright lights, returns to the Arnold Classic with a reputation for fearlessly competing often.

With the highest placement of fourth at the event, Justin Rodriguez poses a crafty challenge when his conditioning aligns with his muscular density.

Fresh from the 2023 Legion Sports Fest Pro, where he secured third place, Justin Rodriguez aims for a major showing with a revamped package.

The Spectacle Unfolds: Don’t Miss the Action

As the countdown to the Arnold Classic ticks away, anticipation reaches a fever pitch. The grandeur of the event, coupled with the storied history of the Arnold Classic, sets the stage for an unforgettable spectacle.

Bodybuilding aficionados and enthusiasts alike are poised to witness the clash of titans in Columbus, Ohio from February 29 to March 3.

The legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger himself has confirmed that the live stream will be free on the official Arnold Sports Website, ensuring that fans from around the world can partake in the excitement.

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