Labrada didn’t mince his words at falling short, but vows to return better than ever.
Written by Robert Zeglinski
Entering the 2022 Mr. Olympia, bodybuilder Hunter Labrada understandably set high expectations for himself. After he notched a fourth-place finish at the 2021 edition of the contest, Labrada aimed for the main throne in Las Vegas, NV, hoping to topple the mountain of a man in former two-time defending champion Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay. Instead, Labrada not only failed to beat Elssbiay (that successful task ultimately came to eventual first-time champion Hadi Choopan), he fell off to seventh place in a disappointing finish.
On Jan. 9, 2023, Labrada appeared in a video on Iron World’s YouTube channel to personally recap his 2022 Olympia journey. Amidst a performance he clearly wasn’t happy with, Labrada discussed the emotions behind it and alluded to what’s next as he looks to rebound in 2023.
Labrada’s seventh-place result at the 2022 Olympia bothered him so much that he maintained he was staying away from social media platforms to avoid getting caught up in any discussion about the contest. In addition, the athlete usually makes a point to regularly share some sort of training or nutritional video on his YouTube channel. At the time of this writing, he has not posted anything there since Dec. 23, 2022.
“I have been off social media,” Labrada said. “I haven’t been shooting YouTube videos. I have been seeing my family and friends and keeping to myself because it shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of y’all by now, but I did not do what I was planning on doing at the Olympia this year. This is going to be the first time I kind of unpack that.”
Because he placed in seventh, and with the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness’s (IFBB) recent changes to its qualification system, Labrada no longer has an automatic berth in the 2023 Olympia. As a result, he shared that he expects to compete in at least two sanctioned IFBB Pro League contests before the next Olympia to try and earn his keep. He did not share which competitions he will aim to participate in before the 2023 Olympia occurs sometime in Nov. 2023 in Orlando, FL.
Perhaps more importantly, Labrada disclosed he’d use the new competitive opportunities to try and figure out where he stands physically after apparently messing something up in his final Olympia prep.
” … Regardless, if I win the first one [contests), which I am going to do,” Labrada said. “The fact of the matter is I need to figure my peak out. We have a very good idea of where we went wrong in those final five days.”
Despite his most recent shortcoming, Labrada seemed optimistic about the future. As much as his 2022 Olympia performance bothered him, he has his eye on the prize in 2023.
“I’m really confident heading into this year,” Labrada said. I”n addition to that confidence heading into this year, I’m [expletive] pissed off, man. I put this timer up in my gym and worked every day for 342 days from last year’s Olympia  to this Olympia. I came up short. Plain and simple. I came up short of what I wanted to do. At the end of the day, this is something I’ve always really preached throughout my preps, is to keep your peace of mind.”
Regardless of what happens next for Labrada, his positive mindset will likely serve him well. He might even channel his apparent shame over what happened at the 2022 Olympia into focused, quality energy as motivation.
“How you respond to adversity is what really makes you,” Labrada said. “I will never forget that [expletive] feeling of that first callout being called and me not being in it. It was in front of God knows how many people.” ” … I’m going to show you a much different Hunter at the two Pro shows I do and at the Olympia because I am going to qualify this year.”
Featured image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram