Derek Lunsford is the reigning 212 Olympia champion from 2021, but it surely seems he is not going to defend his title this coming December. On Sept. 15, 2022, Olympia LLC posted an Instagram announcement revealing Lunsford has acquired a “special invite” to compete for the 2022 Mr. Olympia title. The information follows a latest request from the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Pro League athlete to change divisions. 

“Lunsford submitted a formal request to receive a special invitation to compete in the open division this December,” the announcement wrote. “… After careful consideration, the Olympia promoters and the IFBB Professional League have granted Lunsford a Special Invitation.  The addition of Lunsford further bolsters what many are calling ‘one of the best lineups’ in the history of the event.”

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Lunsford’s official shift to the Men’s Open division, or vying for the Mr. Olympia title itself, comes on the heels of some latest now-clear hints of the bodybuilder’s future.

The athlete reportedly guest-posed at 257 kilos on the 2022 Pittsburgh Pro in May. Later, in a mid-July 2022 version of Olympia TV on YouTube, Chief Olympia Officer Dan Solomon advised Lunsford was “nowhere near 212 [pounds] at this point.” At the time of Solomon’s feedback, Lunsford didn’t deal with the emotions in public, however the writing appeared to already be on the wall. 

“Earlier this year, Derek Lunsford revealed a jaw-dropping new version of his championship physique when he made a surprise appearance in Pittsburgh,” the Olympic LLC continued. “The reigning ‘212 champ’ went toe to toe with some of the biggest and best in the world. The photos and videos had the global bodybuilding scene buzzing with excitement.”

Not lengthy after his Pittsburgh Pro cameo, Lunsford apparently filed his Open division request as his bulking diet filed go well with. 

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Lunsford’s new aggressive job in 2022 is overcoming lots of the similar elite athletes he featured alongside in Western Pennsylvania.

Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Ellsbiay is the two-time reigning champion (2020-2021). However, established challengers just like the ascending Nick Walker, former winner Brandon Curry (2019), and Hunter Labrada might all discover themselves in prime positions for the 2022 Olympia title. Former 212 winner and 2021 runner-up Shaun Clarida may be an element within the Open class. At the time of this writing, Clarida has not confirmed whether or not he’ll compete within the 212 or Open division in December.

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It’s a stacked subject for Lunsford in his forthcoming Open debut. In the occasion he captures the Mr. Olympia title, Lunsford could be the seventeenth distinctive winner of the championship. In addition, he’d be the primary IFBB Pro League competitor to ever win the Olympia in two divisions. The star bodybuilder should overcome a cadre of elite friends, however his potential historical past actually isn’t out of the realm of chance. 

Featured picture: @dereklunsford_ on Instagram