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“Crying to the Doctor”: Phil Heath Admits He Didn’t Let Physical Limitations Get In Between His Achievements

Radha Iyer

Phil Heath Teams Up With Bodybuilding Veterans to Reveal His Choice of Mr. Olympia Winner This Season

Winning the Mr. Olympia once wasn’t enough for icon Phil Heath, who went on to dominate the scene for seven years straight. Known for his competitive spirit and onstage rivalry with many of his colleagues, he led a life full of inspirational stories for fans to learn from and remember. In a recent conversation with performance coach Ben Newman, he talked about getting over his shortcomings before bodybuilding.

Before he could begin with the sport that fans knew him for, Heath was a basketball player in college. Dreaming of a contract in the NBA, the only thing that held him back was his height in comparison to the rest of his mates. Standing at 5’9, he knew he already carried a disadvantage in the sport.

But that didn’t stop him from aiming big. Talking about his physical limitations to Newman, he recalled how he used to feel distressed about making a career in basketball.

“I always wanted to be the best. I knew that I was short and I remember crying to the doctor when they bring out the chart…saying ‘this is how tall you’re going to be’, and I was like ‘there’s no one that tall in the NBA’.”

But Heath knew he couldn’t give up easily and had to work hard to be able to score dunks. Something he noted about himself was once he saw someone like him achieve an impossible-seeming goal, he could visualize his way into changing his reality. He was extremely competitive and only wanted the best outcome in a competition.

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Growing up with athletes around him meant being familiar with the sports world as a whole. Even when Heath continued to pursue his academics, he wasn’t too far from training and growing muscles. He was introduced to bodybuilding coincidentally but knew he’d be a pro in that soon enough.

“When I was interviewed after I got my division one scholarship (in) my senior year to the University of Denver, I was interviewed by The Seattle Times…I said ‘well I don’t know about the NBA but I’m going to be a pro at something’.”

That set his vision forth towards bodybuilding. He was inspired by Ronnie Coleman and soon, was training to be a champion. He stood third in his Mr. Olympia 1993 debut and immediately rose to fame for his impeccable physique.

How did Phil Heath learn about bodybuilding?

Since his time away from the stage, Heath has still managed to keep up his structure and build with regular workouts. He had previously collaborated with GOAT Ronnie Coleman for an intense training session, where they both ended up bonding over nostalgia. They filmed a YouTube video together on Coleman’s channel, where they recalled several anecdotes from back in the day.

Speaking of how he learned about the sport, Heath admitted that Coleman and his primetime physique were responsible for piquing his interest. During one of his IT classes, he saw a wallpaper of Coleman on one of his classmates’ computers. Looking at how ripped and large one could grow, Heath knew his purpose and goal immediately.

Post Edited By:Brandon Gabriel Isaacs

About the author

Radha Iyer

Radha Iyer


Radha Iyer is a US Sports writer at The SportsRush. With a Master's degree in Media and Communication, and a background in content creation and production, sports journalism has been a part and parcel of her demonstrated history in the said field. Olympic sports hold a special place in her heart, and she is particularly interested in sports like track and field, gymnastics, and swimming. She also draws inspiration from legendary athletes like Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Simone Biles, and many more.

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