Seven-time Olympia 212 Champion bodybuilder James “Flex” Lewis has formally announced that he will not compete in 2021, Mr. Olympia. The “Welsh Dragon” announced the news in a video on his YouTube channel that was posted late in the evening on July 8, 2021.
This marks the second year in a row that Lewis has dropped out of Mr. Olympia. After a dominant reign in the 212 division, Lewis announced his intention to compete in the Open division — a move lauded by fans. He has yet to step on stage since 2018. The announcement begins at the 4:10 mark in the video below
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“I feel really good. That time off last year from competing, did it mentally f*** me up? Yes, it did, because I knew what I look like, and I know I could be doing damage up on that stage,” Lewis says in the video above. “So now this year has come, and there are a wide variety of things that have happened this year.”
Lewis talks about his family’s move to Las Vegas, NV, the opening of his new gym, the Dragon’s Lair Gym, and he reveals a more intimate reason for why he’s choosing to opt-out of this year’s O.
“The main reason, which I didn’t really want to get into, is that myself and my wife are trying for another kid. Bodybuilding has always been a part of my core being. As I’m getting older, my family has replaced what was once first in line, and that was bodybuilding.”
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Lewis won the 212 Olympia title every year from 2012 to 2018 and is one of the greatest non-heavyweight bodybuilders of all time. He retired from the 212 division after his 2018 victory and took off 2019 focus on preparing to compete in the Open division. Then, Olympia President Dan Solomon sent him an invite to compete at the 2020 Mr. O. Lewis accepted the invite but withdrew from the contest to receive stem cell treatment for a shoulder injury. His invite was extended to Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay, who won the title from then-champion Brandon Curry.
Lewis had not formally received a special invite to compete at this year’s contest, currently scheduled to occur October 7-10 in Orlando, FL. As a 212 champion, Flex can enter that contest any year he chooses. However, he needs to qualify or accept an invitation to compete in the Open division (or any other division). Lewis didn’t share specific plans for 2022, but he did emphasize that fans would see him compete again.
“I appreciate everybody’s support. I’m not retiring. There’s still so much burning desire and ambition for me to fulfill my bodybuilding dreams, and, God willing, injury-free, I will be on that bodybuilding stage next year.”