The first Ms. Olympia was held in 1980 (actually she was called “Miss” Olympia back then). Modern female bodybuilding had only started in 1977, just three years earlier, so this was still a kid sport. It takes several years to build a true bodybuilding physique, but none of the early Ms. Olympia competitors trained seriously for more than a few years, and their training goals and expectations weren't that high. They certainly had no muscular female role models to set standards against, which they should aspire to.
In sports, athletes often don't reach certain levels of performance until someone else does it first. It took a long time for a runner to complete a four-minute mile, and once that was accomplished, many more followed. Today, high school runners can pull off that kind of feat. All the gymnasts did a double until one of them could do a triple. Then they all had to do it. Golf was primarily considered a "sport of skill" until Tiger Woods showed up, flexed his muscles and got everyone else working out in the gym. w, many golf pros have physiques that obviously owe a lot to strength training.
The first Ms. Olympia bodybuilding competition didn't have much muscle mass by later standards, so this was primarily a dieting competition. This was a physique competition involving women who were dieting to achieve maximum definition, something that had never been done before. The women were short but torn and defined.
Just before the Ms. Olympia competition, there was only one female bodybuilder that the public knew anything about: Lisa Lyon. Lisa had been on television, Playboy and the subject of a photo book by renowned photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Lisa wasn't very muscular or toned, but she was shapely and athletic. And she was an excellent photo model. But their image was not conducive and publishers like Joe Weider were looking for someone to present to the general public.
Then came Rachel McLish. Rachel was sexy and exotic (actually Hispanic - McLish was her married name). The preliminary round took place in private backstage in 1980, with the judges sitting at a table a few feet away from the women.
Rachel won the Ms. Olympia in 1980 and later was often featured in Muscle & Fitness, Flex and other major bodybuilding magazines. She has appeared frequently on television talk shows, published a popular book called Flex Appeal, and has appeared in several action films.
Rachel McLish appeared in the 1985 documentary Pumping Iron II: The Women, which focused on her participation in the 1983 Caesar's World Cup. She also starred in the films Getting Physical (1984), Aces: Iron Eagle III (1992), and Raven Hawk (1996). This included her playing the role of a physically strong woman. She was one of the first women to take on such a role. She was also a star in Herb Alpert's "Red Hot" music video. She starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the fitness instructional video Shape Up (1982).
In the 1980s, women emerged who were genetically more muscular and had trained harder and longer. While Rachel remained very much the "face" of female bodybuilding and a great inspiration for a new generation of muscular competitors, she had neither the desire nor the physique to continue in competitive bodybuilding. But given the extent to which her popularity had contributed to the popularity of the sport in general, she was the best thing that could have happened to women's bodybuilding at this critical time.
Male bodybuilding was boosted by the popularity of Steve Reeves in the 1950s and Arnold in the 1970s. Equally, women owe Rachel McLish the credit for bringing women's bodybuilding to the public eye and creating an initial fan base that grew the sport to the achievements it had achieved.
History of the Rachel McLish Competition
· 1984 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 2nd Place
· 1983 Caesars World Championship - 3rd place
· 1982 IFBB Ms. Olympia - 1st place
· 1982 World Pro Championships - 1st Place
1981 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 2nd 1980 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 1st
1980 Frank Zane Invitational - 2nd Place
· 1980 US Bodybuilding Championship - 1st Place