Roelly Winklaar skyrocketed to the top of professional bodybuilding from the amateur ranks beginning with the contest he turn pro at in 2009, the Arnold Amateur. Just a year later Winklaar took the title at the prestigious New York Pro (formerly the N.O.C.) his rookie season as a professional, and did so with what was his best package to date until just a few weeks ago. A year later at that same contest he had a disappointing appearance which resulted in many who follow the sport hastily writing him off, but Roelly has quickly changed the script during the 2013 contest season, and this weekend has only solidified his rise to the upper echelons of the sport.
Following his decisive win at the 2010 New York Pro, the hype machine had appropriately begun working in Roelly’s favor. The next year in 2011 his placings did not particularly suffer asides a less than stellar US Arnold Classic appearance, and Winklaar managed to continue placing well at the European professional events looking less than his best. It was agreed by most he looked subpar compared to his 2010 season at these contests, and many cited his placings as gifts based on geopolitics.
Though Winklaar’s placings overseas did not suffer, he was highly critiqued by the American component of the IFBB, and everything came home to roost at the New York Pro in 2011 where Roelly placed a disappointing 9th place, after winning the event just a year prior. The failures of the New York Pro were quickly overlooked overseas when in 2012 Winklaar yet again had a series of high placings that many attributed to geographic favoritism. These questionable placings during the European events carried over all the way to the Sheru Classic, where the placings provoked such instances as Toney Freeman’s infamous rant about the state of judging in bodybuilding at the time (as well as varying accounts of backstage confrontations between athletes).
Though at international events he continued to place high, at every American event Roelly had a disappointing showing during this span, that concluded with his 4th place showing in a relatively weak Tampa Pro lineup. If they hadn’t done so already, it was at this point many quickly sold their stock in Roelly and wrote him off citing his inability to get into contest condition while maintaining size, some going so far as to doubt if he ever could get in shape again. Winklaar quickly addressed these naysayers in 2013.
Due to the lack of well known names at the Tier-4 Chicago Pro, the contest and Winklaar’s win went largely overlooked, though it wasn’t for lack of depth, but instead because of a large international presence with a weak showing by competitors from the US (asides Bill Willmore’s 3rd place.) It was at this contest where Winklaar made his debut for the season, beating Essa Obiad and Lionel Beyeke, both professional champions as well, and qualified himself for this year’s Olympia.
Hands down the 2013 Olympia has been Winklaar’s best physique to date. Many were shocked, awed, and surprised by Roelly’s Olympia appearance, and it went so far that during the prejudging the commentators predicted him potentially toppling Jay Cutler for the 6th place spot, high praise for a man who couldn’t crack the Top-10 just a year prior. Though Winklaar ended up in the seventh place spot directly behind Jay, he has established himself as a force to be reckoned with yet again for years to come in the eyes of many. This has only been solidified this weekend at the European Arnold Championships in Spain where yet again Roelly has proved himself amongst the veterans of the sport with another dominant 6th place appearance, with only previous European Arnold Champion Victor Martinez taking the absent Jay Cutler’s spot above Roelly.
As guys such as Victor and Jay’s careers head into the twilight, there comes a new crop of fresh talent such as Ramy and Roelly who are chomping at their heels. While older competitors are doing everything they can to hold off this next generation, the one factor they and nobody else can control is time, which at this point is only working against them, while guys such as Roelly are developing into the future champions of the IFBB.