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Make or Break: Kai Greene, Arnold Classic 2016

Make or Break: Kai Greene, Arnold Classic 2016

Back in 2009, a very talented, yet relatively untested Kai L. Greene stepped onto the Arnold Classic stage, delivering what was arguably one of the top three performances in the show’s storied history. Even drawing arise from the Austrian Oak himself who marveled at Kai’s level of detailed muscularity, and a posing routine that electrified everyone in attendance. Up until that point, Kai’s pro career had been a relatively mixed bag of results. While he did already have two wins to his credit – the 2007 Colorado Pro and 2008 New York Pro – he was a far cry from the perennial Olympia contender and international superstar that he’s gone on to become. Looking back now, the 2009 Arnold Classic was a catalyst for a professional career that had teetered on the edge of both greatness and disaster for the first four and a half years of its existence.

It was a turning point in Kai’s career, and had he not won, the chapters that followed in the biopic of one of the greatest athletes of his generation would have been altogether different. Now, seven years after he launched himself into the stratosphere of superstardom, Kai Greene returns to the Arnold Classic stage, facing a situation that bears an eerily similar resemblance to where he found himself sitting in the not too distant past, with similar stakes.

The 2016 Arnold Classic is going to mark a turning point of another kind for the Kai’s career. Kai enters into the show as the prohibitive favorite, after a less than spectacular weekend at the 2014 Olympia – one that saw him mired in controversy following a series of bizarre and out of character events – and the last-minute announcement that he was prohibited from competing at last year’s Olympia. The last two years have very much been shrouded by a haze of confusion that has cast a bit of shade on an otherwise hall-of-fame worthy career. Very similar to what he faced in 2009.

Kai Greene_2009_Arnold ClassicWith a win, Kai reignites the conversation as to whether or not this will be the year he unseats reigning champion Phil Heath. However, a loss at this year’s event would essentially put the final nail in the coffin of his title hopes, essentially burying his last shot at etching his name in the history books alongside the other iconic figures in the sport’s history who’ve garnished the title of Mr. Olympia. Without question, Kai Greene has been the standard bearer of next level muscularity for his era. For all of the wins and all of the momentous career achievements, the legacy of Kai Greene can’t be written without telling of what he hasn’t done on the Olympia stage.

With three runners-up and two third-place finishes on his Olympia resume, at the moment, Kai finds himself lumped into a club alongside the Shawn Ray’s, Kevin Levrone’s, and Flex Wheeler’s of the world, as a generational talent who was never able to capture the sport’s highest honor. While being mentioned in the same breath of some of the most iconic physiques of all-time is great, ‘the greatest to never win a championship’ is a title that no athlete in any sport is eager to attach themselves too, which is one of the many things that makes this Arnold Classic so intriguing. For Kai Greene, this is either going to be the start of the next chapter, or the beginning of the conclusion of one of the sport’s great careers.

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