The Ms. Olympia contest debuted at the Superbowl of Bodybuilding — Olympia in 1980. Notably, it took the Olympia owners 15 years to launch the women’s bodybuilding division after they started Mr. Olympia in 1965.
However, it wasn’t the only time the Ms. Olympia contest received a step-motherly treatment. Ms. Olympia was discontinued in 2014. Waning fan interest and plummeting ticket sales were the reasons cited by the Olympia management for bringing down the curtains on the apex women’s bodybuilding contest.
The first few Ms. Olympia winners looked significantly different than the four-time and reigning Ms. Olympia champ Andrea Shaw. You could compare Rachel McLish (Ms. Olympia 1980 and 1982) to the present Bikini Olympia contestants. Whether it is a good thing or bad is for you to decide.
“Besides the Men’s Open division winner who receives the Mr. Olympia title, there’s also a Ms. Olympia champ. The Mr. Olympia contest had started in 1965, but the Ms. Olympia division wasn’t added until 1980″. So, of course, the men’s division has overshadowed women’s bodybuilding over the past decades.
To the point that in 2014, the IFBB Pro decided to put a halt on the Ms. Olympia class. They claimed a loss in fans’ interest and a sharp decline in ticket sales. Fortunately, Jake Wood, a promoter, overtook the management in 2020 and returned the Ms. Olympia division to the Super Bowl of bodybuilding.
Since 1980, there have been 12 Ms. Olympia winners, with Rachel McLish being the original Ms. Olympia. Just as the physiques of the Mr. Olympia champs have evolved over the years, the same can be said about the women’s division. This article will breakdown all the faces of Ms. Olympia’s champions.
This article goes over the history of the Ms. Olympia contest, the different eras, and the 12 women who have worn the Ms. O crown over the past four decades.
What is the Ms. Olympia Competition?
To put it simply, the Ms. Olympia is the female version of the Mr. Olympia. Women are judged on size, shreds, posing, and many of the same things that the men are judged on. It is the most prestigious bodybuilding competition.
|Rachel McLish||1980, 1982|
|Lenda Murray||1990-1995, 2002-2003|
|Iris Kyle||2004, 2006-2014|
Rachel McLish (1980, 1982)
Ritva Elomaa (1981)
Carla Dunlap (1983)
Corinna Everson (1984-1989)
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Kim Chizevsky-Nicholls (1996-1999)
Kim Chizevsky-Nicholls stopped Lenda Murray in her tracks in 1996, overthrowing the six-time defending champ not once but twice. She beat Murray to gold again in 1997 (Murray got second) and continued her streak through 1999.
Andrulla Blanchette and Valentina Chepiga (2000)
Up to this point, Mr. Olympia and Ms. Olympia were held at separate times. But in 2000, the two competitions joined forces. In addition, the division was split up into lightweight and heavyweight. Because of this, the two 2000 winners never had to go ahead-to-ahead, making both Andrulla Blanchette and Valentina Chepiga the only same-year Ms. Olympia champs.
Juliette Bergmann (2001)
From 2000-2005, Ms. Olympia maintained its two separate divisions (lightweight and heavyweight), but it also made room for an overall winner. Although Iris Kyle was the heavyweight winner, the lightweight champ, Juliette Bergmann, won the overall title in 2001. This was the only time over the five-year division weight split that a lightweight contender beat out a heavyweight contender for the overall prize.
Iris Kyle (2004, 2006-2014)
It was a long hard fight between two contenders, the dominant former champ Lenda Murray and Iris Kyle. Ultimately, it was Iris Kyle’s time in 2004 when she won both the heavyweight class and overall title. Although Kyle couldn’t defend her throne in 2005, she collected 10 Olympia titles, which is the most by any Olympia competitor (including after Ms. Olympia was abandoned in 2014).
Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia (2005)
Further changes were implemented in the Ms. Olympia division in 2005. First, the IFBB Pro got rid of the two separate weight classes and put in place a “20-percent rule,” meaning competitors needed to come in 20% smaller if they wanted a shot at the title. This new rule paved the way for the three-time Ms. Olympia heavyweight bronze medalist Yanexi Oriquen-Garcia to claim the Ms. Olympia title.
Andrea Shaw (2020-2023)
Ms. Olympia was abandoned in 2014, which is why there’s a winning gap from 2014-2019. When the division reemerged, Andrea Shaw was the modern Ms. Olympia and is currently the reigning champ. She has been seen working out with some great athletes such as Shaun Clarida, getting in intense training sessions, and solidifying why she is the Ms. Olympia champ.
Ms. Olympia Winners Wrapping Up
“The Ms. Olympia division has undergone many changes throughout Olympia weekend’s history. It’s seen waves of growth, rapid declines, and reemergence. Despite the lack of prominently it receives compared to the men’s division, it’s progressed”. It has seen the evolution of women’s physiques and the faces of many great women bodybuilding champs.
We hope for continued growth and support of the Ms. Olympia division, seeing some great talent in the division at this year’s Olympia, and look forward to all the great female competitors walking the stage in Vegas next year. The question is: will Andrea Shaw continue her domination since the resurgence of the Ms. Olympia division? Or will a former champ of a new face come and oust her?
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