The IFBB pro delivered a clutch performance in Reno, Nevada.
Six months after suffering a scary setback that could have easily sidelined him for the rest of the competitive season, Charles Griffen showed the power of perseverance by completing his comeback story in championship fashion.
On Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, Griffen officially clinched a qualifying spot in the 2023 Mr. Olympia contest by outperforming the rest of the Men’s Open division at the 2023 Legion Sports Fest Pro in Reno, Nevada.
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With the Mr. Olympia contest — the biggest bodybuilding show of the year — scheduled for Nov. 2-5, the Legion Sports Fest Pro provided a pathway for hopeful contenders to secure some of the final few spots in the lineup.
Not only did Griffen ensure he’ll have a chance to wash away the memories of a 14th-place finish at the 2022 Olympia, but he did so despite dealing with the effects of a serious injury he sustained during a chest training session earlier this year.
The Minnesota native made social media waves back in April 2023 with a video that highlighted how everything can change in a split-second when heavy weights are involved. Griffen’s Instagram post showed him injuring his left pectoral muscle as he prepared to perform an incline dumbbell press with a pair of 170-pound (77-kilogram) dumbbells.
Even after sustaining a potentially career-threatening injury, he did not undergo surgery to repair the grade II tear. Facing a four- to six-week recovery period from the partial tendon tear, Griffen didn’t let the mishap break his physical or mental fortitude. Instead, the injury set the stage for a furious comeback that culminated in a clutch victory with Olympia-bound ramifications.
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What made his first-place finish at the Legion Sports Fest Pro even more impressive was the fact he earned a unanimous stamp of approval from the judges despite having a visibly torn pec. In a sport that values both muscle density and symmetry, Griffen’s win spoke volumes about his complete physique and elite conditioning.
Ultimately, his monstrous quads, well-developed back, and bulging biceps put him above the rest of a crowded field that included John Jewett, who will join Griffen at the ’23 Olympia in Orlando, FL to compete in the 212 division. Jewett’s performance in Reno certainly turned heads, as he earned a unanimous second-place finish in his Men’s Open debut.
Although it looked like Griffen’s victory brought some finality to the Olympia lineup, that didn’t exactly prove to be the case. Less than 24 hours after Griffen secured the last qualifying spot, Brett “The Butcher” Wilkin officially withdrew from the 2023 Mr. Olympia due to recent digestive issues which caused significant and unexpected weight loss.
With Wilkin, Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay, and 2023 Toronto Pro Supershow winner Iain Valliere all backing out for various reasons, the Men’s Open division lineup now features:
Griffen faces an arduous road to finish ahead of some big-name competitors with big-time physiques. With top contenders like 2022 Men’s Open runner-up Derek Lunsford, 2023 Arnold Classic winner Samson Dauda, and 2019 Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry all vying to take down reigning champion Hadi Choopan, it will be fascinating to see where Griffen places following a 14th-place showing a year ago and an Olympia debut of 13th in 2018.
Then again, with all the adversity he’s had to overcome in 2023, the three-time IFBB Pro League champion has already shown he’s capable of winning an uphill battle.
Featured Image: ProStudio1 / Instagram