Clarida will stick with the 212 as he begins the ascent of one of bodybuilding’s tallest mountains.
Reigning 212 Olympia champ Shaun Clarida usually wears his heart on his oversized sleeve. The athlete hasn’t been shy about sharing his bodybuilding goals and his next mission might be the superstar’s loftiest yet.
On Mar. 23, 2023, Clarida appeared on an episode of The Truth podcast with esteemed bodybuilding trainer Hany Rambod. As the pair discussed the two-time 212 Olympia champion’s (2020, 2022) future plans, Clarida didn’t mince his words: he wants to break James “Flex” Lewis’ 212 Olympia record of seven titles (2012-2018). The athlete will be primarily sticking with the 212 division for the foreseeable future in search of this hallowed ambition.
Clarida’s long-term 212 aspirations might come as a slight surprise, considering he most recently featured in the Men’s Open division at the 2023 Arnold Classic (AC). Despite the athlete being considerably smaller than his more massive peers, the bodybuilder took home a fifth-place finish at the contest.
Moving forward, in an approach that seems both realistic and training-efficient, Clarida didn’t necessarily rule out similar moonlighting Men’s Open appearances. However, he will otherwise keep his focus on the 212 division, as that is where he has shined the most in his career.
“I’m staying in 212 for sure,” Clarida explained. “The goal is to win multiple titles here [in the 212 division]. Of course, I like to dabble in a few smaller [Men’s] Open shows, maybe another Arnold Classic. But me just doing the Arnold Classic and doing well is not enough for me to just leave the 212 … I’m realistic. If I couldn’t win the  Arnold [Classic], then what’s the point of me moving on from there? If I had won maybe it would be a different conversation.”
Clarida is behind Lewis’ dominating streak by five titles, but if anyone can match or eclipse the icon in the current landscape, it’s the 5-foot 2-inch competitor appropriately referred to as “The Giant Killer.” Usually, that’s in reference to Clarida overcoming bigger peers en route to a victory. In this case, Clarida surpassing Lewis would be more like beating a living legend — a metaphorical “giant” of the sport.
Clarida’s teasing his pursuit of the 212 Olympia record makes the years ahead potentially some of the most exciting the division has ever seen.
“212 is my home, it’s in my heart, and I want to walk away as one of the best to ever do it,” Clarida said. “I love Flex Lewis to death but the goal is to beat his record.”
If Clarida were to unexpectedly hang up his posing trunks today, he’d already be remembered as one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. Full stop. However, vying for Lewis’ mark would likely place him amongst an elite handful of names, regardless of division. For someone accustomed to “killing giants,” it’d be quite a sight to see him repeatedly reach that 212 Olympia summit.
Featured image: @shaunclarida on Instagram