King Ronnie

In a wild and raucous evening show, 296-pound Ronnie Coleman grabbed his seventh consecutive Mr. Olympia title and a piece of history.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger informed the Mandalay Bay crowd, his victory tied him with the Governator for second most wins in Olympia history, right behind Lee Haney's eight.

Ronnie tightened up a bit from the day show and, to the surprise of most in attendance, managed to win a few ab-and-thigh poses in the new Challenge Round, most notably against Dexter Jackson, who ended up in fourth place with 12 points to Ronnie's 24.

Going into the Challenge Round, which included the top six finishers based on point totals from the previous three rounds, were Gunter Schlierkamp in 6th with one point, Markus Ruhl in 5th with two, Gustavo Badell in 4th with three, Dexter Jackson in 3rd with four, Jay Cutler in 2nd with five, and Ronnie Coleman in 1st with six. Then the fun began.

With Triple H at the microphone, Gunter stepped to the front of the stage and made the first Challenge Round callout in history. It was a back double biceps shot against Markus Ruhl. A buzzer sounded to signal the competitors to begin posing; the two men hit their poses; another buzzer signaled them to stop, and all eyes turned to the onstage electronic scoreboard. Markus took the pose and the two points that went along with it and 29 challenges between the 6 athletes followed.

While four of the six contestants finished the day with the placings they inherited from the three prior rounds, the fortunes of Dexter Jackson and Gustavo Badell reversed during the showdown phase. In what may have been the evening's turning point, Big Ron was awarded an ab-and-thigh challenge over Dexter which, coupled with the Blade's earlier loss to Gustavo in the most muscular pose, sent Jackson down a notch to fourth and Badell up one to third.

The show's final posedown was between, appropriately enough, Ronnie and Jay in what the big man called his "rear lat, lights out spread." And with that body blow the defending champ scored his final knockout of the evening and his seventh consecutive Sandow.

The Challenge Round brought an unprecented level of excitement to the event, with each competitor's fans screaming their approval as their athlete picked up points, and their dismay as they didn't.

In the end it seemed that the vast majority of attendees were in agreement that the biggest man in the show was also the best, and a deserving winner.

The evening was finished off with a free-for-all in which all 19 competitors were invited back onstage and allowed the chance to let their hair down, which they did by running amok through the audience.

It was a night/day/weekend to remember. It was history in the making. And it was only the beginning. To paraphrase the other 7x Mr. Olympia, "We'll be back," next year, for the new, improved Mr. Olympia's 40th anniversary celebration. Better believe another 40-year-old will be back to celebrate with us. Congratulations Big Ron!

Following are the final placings of the 2004 Mr. Olympia competition.

1. Ronnie Coleman- 24 pts.
2. Jay Cutler- 21 pts.
3. Gustavo Badell- 13 pts.
4. Dexter Jackson- 12 pts.
5. Markus Ruhl- 5 pts.
6. Gunter Schlierkamp- 1 pt.
7. Chris Cormier
8. Dennis James
9. Victor Martinez
10. Darrem Charles
11. Pavol Jablonicky
12. Kris Dim
13. Ahmad Haidar
14. Johnnie Jackson
15. Troy Alves
16. Craig Richardson
17. Mustafa Mohammed
18. Richard Jones
19. Claude Groulx

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