Valliere thinks there’s no point in continuing the class.
From late 2022 to early 2023, various notable figures in and around bodybuilding have been openly reflecting on the state of the sport. There was the iconic Arnold Schwarzenegger, who expressed his enthusiasm for reigning four-time Classic Physique Olympian Chris Bumstead, while noting that the division should be the main event of the Olympia weekend. In 1983, Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout complained that the Olympic qualification was not rigorous enough and allowed too many competitors. Now, Iain Valliere, an active bodybuilder, shared some powerful thoughts on a prominent modern competitive category.
On February 2, 2023, Valliere appeared on a podcast episode with Fouad Abiad Media, discussing some of the latest hot bodybuilding topics such as the 2023 Arnold Classic. Some of the more notable revelations included the 2022 Vancouver Pro Champion believes that Division 212 should no longer be a viable professional division.
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As the standards of training and quality nutrition continue to rise, Valliere stated that he sees no place for 212 bodybuilders in the long run. He claimed that recent successful examples of 212 competitors like Derek Lunsford and Shaun Clarida making the move to the Men’s Open and doing well there show that there is no longer much need for the 212.
Therefore, the athlete said that the division’s existence was redundant and that it should be included in the Men’s Open.
“If a 175 or 180 pound Shaun [Clarida] comes in and bangs 290-pound, 6-foot guys, you really don’t have any [expletive] case for retaining the 212 [division]To be honest,” Valliere said. “Because I still think the boys really are [expletive] driven to be the best would last a few years [expletive] if you believe in your heart. Like the Dereks (Lunsford) of the world who would hold on to it [expletive] eliminated and been to the Men’s Open and would have ended up where they are.
After receiving rebuffs and counterarguments from his podcast peers, including retired 212 bodybuilder Guy Cisternio and retired Men’s Open competitor Fouad Abiad, Valliere made a reasonable analogy between basketball and bodybuilding, pointing out that the cream usually rises to the top without adjustments.
“It’s the same as saying that guys who are like 5-foot-10 shouldn’t play basketball and that we should make a shorter net for the guys who are shorter. It’s stupid.” Valliere explained. “At 212, I just think a lot of these guys could end up in the US [Men’s] Open up like you used to and have a good time.”
Ultimately, for Valliere, nixing the 212 division is all about the more talented athletes winning and allowing them to compete in the most elite of circumstances.
“No matter how much I train, I won’t get as tall as Ramy [Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay] or as fast as Usain Bolt,” Valliere said. “Some guys aren’t going to be as good as Derek [Lunsford]some boys won’t be as great as Yao Ming, it’s just that [expletive] Reality. Humans are not all created equal, and just because they aren’t doesn’t mean we should fill the void.”
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Valliere may be right to have his strong opinion on the future of the 212, but at the time of writing, competition organizers don’t seem to have any meaningful plans to keep up with his idea.
As for Valliere’s individual exploits, the Men’s Open bodybuilder is ranked 11th at the 2022 Mr. Olympia. According to NPC News Online, the result was the second-lowest of his career, with 14th place at the 2018 iteration being considered his worst. To date, Valliere’s best Mr. Olympia performance has been a consecutive seventh-place finish in 2020 and 2021.
With the 2023 competitive season still in its early stages, if he qualifies for the competition he will no doubt be looking for some respite during the 2023 edition on November 3-5 in Orlando, FL.
Featured image: @iainvalliere on Instagram