Mr. Olympia championship returns to The Orleans for the fifth time

Here, average person who tries to make it to the gym a few times a week, is something you have in common with three-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler: Some days he doesn’t feel like working out, either.

And here’s something you don’t have in common with Jay Cutler: Everything else.

Seriously. Look at him.

On the upside, we average guys and occasional gymgoers still can watch Cutler this weekend as he defends his current Mr. Olympia title and shoots for a fourth during the 2010 Mr. Olympia finals at the Orleans Arena.

It’s the fifth visit to The Orleans for the Mr. Olympia championship, which is conducted by the International Federation of Bodybuilders Professional League. The world’s best bodybuilders — among them Cutler, Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Dexter Jackson and Branch Warren — are scheduled to compete.

The weekend’s slate of events also will include Ms. Olympia, Ms. Fitness Olympia and Ms. Figure Olympia events, in which, respectively, Iris Kyle, Adela Garcia and Nicole Wilkins-Lee will defend their titles.

This weekend also will see the first IFBB Pro League Bikini Olympia championship as well as a slate of other bodybuilding-oriented events at the Orleans Arena and Las Vegas Convention Center (for a full schedule, follow the "event schedule" link from www.MrOlympia.com).

A Cutler win this weekend will mark yet another accolade in a competitive career that began when he was 19.

Cutler, now 37 and a Las Vegas resident since 2001, has noted a number of changes in his sport over the years. For one thing, pro bodybuilders today actually can be true, full-time professional athletes.

As recently as 10 years ago, "a lot of people worked jobs and were bodybuilders," he says.

And even during the years when seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger was competing, "Mr. Olympia prize money was $1,000 for first place," Cutler notes, versus $200,000 for first place now.

Also, Cutler says, endorsement deals and sponsorships now allow the athletes to "focus solely on training for competition." Throughout most of the year, from October through June, Cutler’s own schedule takes him all over the world. Then, for the remaining months of the year, Cutler devotes all of his time to training for Mr. Olympia, which remains the most prestigious competition, and most sought-after title, in bodybuilding.

Cutler admits that there are days when, just like the rest of us, he’d rather do just about anything than go to the gym.

"I give 14 weeks to prepare for this competition," he says. "So, I cut pretty much everything out of my life. I eat, sleep and train.

"You make a lot of sacrifices and hinder a lot of relationships — family, friends, marriage, everything — but, in the end, when you’ve had great success like myself, you look back and say, ‘That was hard work, but everything paid off and it wasn’t so bad.’ "

What’s the appeal for fans of bodybuilding? Cutler says it’s largely an appreciation for "the discipline, the passion, the commitment, the dedication and the perseverance" it takes to compete at an elite level.

And, for his own fans, Cutler suspects it might have something to do with how hard he has worked to get to the elite level where he now resides.

"I was always kind of an underdog," Cutler explains. "I was runner-up five times before I became three-time champion."

So, Cutler says, fans "see me as a guy who’s always fighting. When I finally broke through, it really didn’t change my persona. It’s always been (about) hard work and the nose to the grindstone and just doing whatever it takes to win."

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal. com or 702-383-0280.

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