The Worlds Greatest Olympian?

Firstly, I just want to say what a fantastic job the chinese did on the opening of the olympics. Full of colour and spectacle. I hate openings, but this one was truly stunning.

A huge well done to Michael Phelps for winning yet another gold medal and becoming the winner of the most gold medals in the history of the olympics. He is without doubt a phenomenal athelete and deserves every accolade… every accolade that is except greatest ever olympian.

Now I’m not saying he is, or he isnt, he certainly has a very very good claim on it, but I think he’s not there yet. Lets be honest, in the top 100 of the most olympic medal winners, there are a lot of Swimmers. Could it be that the are more opportunities to win olympic golds?

Let me just put forward a few issues I have and mention a few other names for consideration.

Just to show that I am not being anti-american in this, lets start with Carl Lewis… winner of 9 golds and 1 silver medal. The 100m, 200m, 4x100m and long jump equalling Jesse Owens record in 1936. He then did the same thing again 4 years later. Breaking world records in all 8 competitions. After a hiccough in 92, he went on to win his final two medals in 96. This is a fantastic tally in a very difficult event

And what about the russian Gymnast Larissa Latynina, 9 gold medals, 5 silver medals and 4 bronze medals across three olympic games. She never entered a competition that she did not win a medal in, and still hold the record of most medals won.

Then theres the italian Edoardo Mangiarotti. In 2003, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) awarded him with a Platinum Wreath, with a document which stated that: Edoardo Mangiarotti’s total of 39 medals (6 olympic golds, 5 slivers and 2 bronzes), in Olympic & World Fencing Championships not only earns him the distinction of being the greatest Fencer in that sport’s history, but also distinguishes him as the most decorated athlete in ALL Olympic Sports in the history of the Olympics.

What about German canoer Brigit Fischer, winner of 8 gold medals in the K1, K2 and K4 events. The first in 1980, and despite retiring in 2001 she went on to win her last in 2004. She would have won more except for the eastern bloc boycott of 1984.

Or perhaps a nod should go to Bjorn Daehlie, winner of 8 gold medals and 4 silver medals in the extremely hard cross country skiing event during 92′ to ’98 (to be fair there were 3 olympic events here), this is a most impressive tally in an endurance event.

I’m a brit though, and I cant help but add our own hero Steven Redgrave, 5 gold medals in 5 consecutive olympic games from ’84 to 2000. Unlike other sporting events such as swimming or running, fencing or gymnastic, rowing is not a well supported event. It doesnt have 37 different medal winning opportunities. Its one race, one chance. And Redgrave was at the top of the sport for a fantastic 16years. And If you have ever tried rowing yourself, you will know that its an absolute killer of an endurance event.

I am really pleased that once again we have a fantastic olympian in Michael Phelps, and if he is still getting golds in 8 years time, I will concur that he is in fact the greatest olympian so far. Just not yet.

~ by eggplantinspace on August 14, 2008.

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