On the precipice of bodybuilding immortality, Lunsford wants to put his best Olympia foot forward this year.

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Derek Lunsford, a former 212 Olympia champion (2021), competed for the first time in the Men’s Open at the 2022 Mr. Olympia. After a sterling second-place finish to eventual champion Hadi Choopan, Lunsford certainly maximized his debut on stage in the sport’s flagship division. As the 2023 calendar year starts to unfold, Lunsford is already setting up his high personal expectations for the months ahead.

In a podcast appearance with Fouad Abiad Media on Jan. 1, 2023, Lunsford discussed his upcoming plans after his second-place result at the 2022 Olympia. Among the more notable tidbits was the athlete revealing he would not compete at the 2023 Arnold Classic this March as he will center a majority of his energy on capturing his first career Olympia title in November 2023.

With a bigger picture in mind, Lunsford is specifically forgoing a potential appearance at the 2023 Arnold Classic to improve aspects of his overall physique, like his chest and leg muscles. This plan generally falls in line with Lunsford’s singular Olympia approach from 2022. As a new year starts to roll along, he’s wasting no time getting after it in his training for the next Olympia.

“I’m right back at the gym training, getting ready for next year,” Lunsford said. “I just knew this was a new beginning for me.”

Lunsford had congratulatory words of appreciation for Choopan, who he knows had been chasing bodybuilding’s highest peak and coming up just short for years. At the same time, Lunsford noted how close the final result was and how grateful he was to have a chance to push the eventual victor.

“I’m happy for Hadi [Choopan], man,” Lunsford explained. “He’s been at this for so many years. People have argued that he should have had an Olympia title already. So, I’m happy for him, man. And me, coming in with my Men’s Open Olympia debut getting second, and it was really close. I think it was a one-point difference in prejudging. It was just awesome, man. I was just there to put on a show and have a good time.”

While Lunsford seemed satisfied with his Men’s Open debut, he alluded to understanding that there’s still a lot of work to do. Like many elite athletes before him, Lunsford put his crosshairs on improvement and finishing the job the next time around.

When one comes as close to victory as Lunsford did, it’s only natural to focus on where to fill in the gaps.

“Dude, you can’t complain coming into your Mr. Olympia debut getting second place and, like, arguably pushing for that title,” Lunsford said. “I was really on cloud nine, and I still am, to be honest. Then, I just talked to myself, ‘Okay, well, you’re this close. What do you need to get better?’. For me, how awesome is it to be this close to walking away with the title, and I know how many more improvements I can make? As I said, that’s where my mindset is. I’m one step away [from victory] in my first Olympia.” 

Featured image: @dereklunsford_ on Instagram

About Robert Zeglinski

Robert is a seasoned and adept editor and writer with a keen, passionate penchant for the writing craft. He’s been a leader in newsrooms such as SB Nation, USA TODAY, and WBBM Newsradio, with various other content and art production teams, and first made a name for himself in his hometown of Chicago. When not knee-deep in research or lost in a stream of consciousness for a thorough piece, you can find Robert inhaling yet another novel, journaling his heart out, or playing with his Shiba Inu, Maximus (Max, for short).

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