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Olympic Greats - The Best Olympians We Will Ever See?

Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps   The American swimmer has just completed in and won his last Olympic race before retiring from the sport. He won 18 gold medals in a career that spanned four Olympic Games and has been touted as the greatest ever Olympian but is being the best all about the haul of gold medals or are there other benchmarks we should consider before making the final decision?

 Four other Olympians could challenge Phelps for the title but for different reasons:

Carl Lewis
Carl Lewis   Carl Lewis competed in the 100m sprint and also the different discipline of the long jump. In all he won nine Olympic gold medals including winning the Olympic long jump a record four consecutive times. He also made a comeback after retirement to compete successfully in the Seoul Olympics before finally retiring after the games. He equalled and broke world records in his events during his illustrious career.

Nadia Comaneci
Nadia Comaneci   Named as one of the athletes of the century, Nadia Comaneci won five gold medals in her Olympic gymnastics career but she is best known for her score of a perfect ten at the Montreal Olympics when she was only 14 years old. The score board wasn’t able to show a ten so her score was flashed up as a 1.00 and, until the crowd realised what had happened, there was stunned silence in the arena.

Jessie Owens
Jessie Owens   Jessie Owens was already an enigmatic star when he competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The previous year he had set records in the long jump, the 220 yard sprint and the 220 yard hurdles but it was to be as a black man in front of one of the most anti-black leaders in history, that Owens laid his claim to be the greatest ever Olympian. He won four gold medals, against some of Hitler’s ‘Aryan’ athletes and immediately disproved Hitler’s theory that black people were inferior to whites. Sadly, his experience of racism even extended to his own country when, invited to a celebratory even, he had to use the goods lift as the main lift was reserved for whites only.

Ian Millar
Ian Millar   Ian Millar is one of Canada’s top equestrian riders and at London 2012 has competed in his tenth Olympic Games. He could have made it one more still but Canada boycotted the Moscow games denying him an eleventh games. He says he is still fit and claims to be better than when he started, hoping for an eleventh run in the 2016 Rio games.


Sir Steve Redgrave
  The British rower Sir Steve Redgrave is unique amongst Olympians in having won gold medals at five consecutive Olympics in an endurance event. He is the undisputed world’s best ever rower and is the third most decorated British Olympian.


Usain Bolt?

  We couldn't debate great Olympians without our most recent contender. Usain Bolt successfully defended his 100m crown last night and answered all those critics who wandered if his days as the world's fastest man had passed. He won in emphatic style setting a new Olympic record and covered the 100m sprint in 9.63 seconds, just 5 hundredths of a second slower than his world record time. He has fixed his name in Olympic and athletics history, but will we ever see anyone run faster?

There are of course others that could easily have made the list, so feel free to add your suggestions in our comments section below, let us know who and why you think they deserve a place on our list!
Phil Partridge
Posted: August 06, 2012 by Phil Partridge 0 comments
About the Author -

Travel writer, car rental guru, Phil has rented cars all over the world and shares his knowledge and experience on the Rhinocarhire.com Blog. Favourite country to visit: France.

Last updated: Tuesday, September 5, 2017
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