The Greatest Olympian of All Time

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mar52
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2012/08/09 01:07:14 (permalink)

The Greatest Olympian of All Time

What are your feelings on this?

Sure Michael Phelps won 22 medals and 18 gold (I may have the numbers wrong) but does that make him the World's Greatest Olympian?

He swims.  He's the World's Greatest Swimming Olympian.

I think you need to excel in more than one sport to be the World's Greatest Olympian...
More like the triathlons.

Phelps is the most decorated, not the World's Greatest.

Opinions....
#1

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    Foodbme
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 04:30:26 (permalink)
    I have mixed feelings since my daughter was a nationally ranked swimmer and went to the Olympic Trials in 1988 and to USC on a full scholarship. I know how hard swimmers have to train. I also know other athletes train hard too.
    Greatest Swimmer? No Question about it.
    Historically, The winner of the Decathlon has been dubbed "World's Greatest Athlete" ever since King Gustav, V of Sweden dubbed Jim Thorpe with that title in the 1912 Olympics 100 years ago. I'm not sure, but I don't believe anyone has ever won the Decathlon in back to back Olympics.
    Since the Decathlon events developed from the ancient Pentathlon and go all the way back to the Greeks, I guess I'll have to go with the Decathlon winner as the Worlds Greatest Athlete, at least for 4  years.
    #2
    saps
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 04:48:50 (permalink)
    A decathlete, then, would be the worlds greatest land Olympian in the sport of track and field. In winning the decathlon in 1976, Bruce Jenner actually only won 1 or 2 of the 10 events. It depends on what you want your criteria to be for greatest Olympian- Phelps very well could be the greatest Olympian to some, and not to others. I don't know why swimming would be considered any less athletic than other events, and the fact that Phelps not only excelled but actually won as many different swimming events is more than impressive.
    #3
    mayor al
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 07:42:50 (permalink)
    Not to begin a great debate, but IMHO the medal count is only one criteria for making a general statment like "greatest" or Best". 
        Trying to compare difficulty/complexity/challenging skill levels between sports like Swimming, Track. Sking, Wrestling, Gymnastics, etc  and then toss in team efforts like Vollyball and Soccer, makes the comparison almost totally 'Subjective'.
       I don't know how we can measure the Character, or Olympic Spirit of an athlete to add points to a potential candidates standing as "The Greatest"....but I wish we could.  I would add a bunch to the guy from So Africa running on his artifical legs. NO medals, but a giant score in "Spirit".
     
    Yeah Greatest is a difficult level to reach. Phelps has the medals, and that will have to be the measure for now, but there are those who bring other values to the criteria. These champions also deserve recognition in their own right.
    #4
    jmckee
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 13:07:42 (permalink)
    Interesting topic. My wife and I each had "I've had about enough of [add athlete's name]" moments this year. For her it was Phelps, and when the announcers kept talking about him as the greatest Olympian of all time she just about threw up. She says, "He's not all that. Plus maybe he shouldn't have been photographed with his bong." She found him arrogant and detached (I did note he was the only one who never took off his headphones until time to get in the water -- he looked kind of spaced out.....)
     
    For me it's "MistyMayAndCarrie" (one word). Sick of them. Hope they realize their time is done.
     
    #5
    iluvcfood
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 13:42:53 (permalink)
    Agreed 100%
    #6
    kland01s
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 13:43:30 (permalink)
    I'm leaning towards a Triathlon athlete or Decathlon athlete, not any one in particular,  though Jim Thorpe certainly stands out. My reason is that they have to master several athletic movements such as running, cycling and swimming with the Triathlon or the 4 track and 6 field events that require running, throwing and jumping of the Decathlon.  A swimmer swims, maybe several different strokes, but it's basic swimming with the lengths varying. Same with track. They run, the lengths vary and they may throw some hurdles in but it's basic just running.
    #7
    SeamusD
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 13:49:30 (permalink)
    saps

    A decathlete, then, would be the worlds greatest land Olympian in the sport of track and field. In winning the decathlon in 1976, Bruce Jenner actually only won 1 or 2 of the 10 events.

    I had 2 pairs of his sneakers when I was 7 or 8. Boy, they were ugly.
    #8
    Sundancer7
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 13:51:22 (permalink)
    That will probably be debated for a long time.  My personal thoughts are:
    1:  Being the most decorated does not make you the best olympian but it makes you the most decorated.
    2:  Anyone who wins the gold in any event means that they are the best in that particular venue than anyone else in the world on that day.
    3: Phelps has had the staying power but so has the ladies who did the three peat in beach volleyball.
    4:  I sure do enjoy the olympics and will be sad so see them over.
     
    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN 
    #9
    kland01s
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 15:18:25 (permalink)
    SeamusD

    saps

    A decathlete, then, would be the worlds greatest land Olympian in the sport of track and field. In winning the decathlon in 1976, Bruce Jenner actually only won 1 or 2 of the 10 events.

    I had 2 pairs of his sneakers when I was 7 or 8. Boy, they were ugly.

     
    And look where it got him, Mr Botox in the land of Kardasians.
    #10
    felix4067
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 15:18:51 (permalink)
    jmckee

    She found him arrogant and detached (I did note he was the only one who never took off his headphones until time to get in the water -- he looked kind of spaced out.....)

     

    I've seen this a LOT working with actors. It's a means of blocking out all the BS around you so you can concentrate on what needs to be done. I don't consider it detached so much as unplugging from the surrounding pandemonium so you can concentrate on the task at hand. Given his results, I'd have to say it works.
     
    As for the "greatest" anything, it's all subjective. Especially in a situation like the Olympics, where the athletes have to be stellar at what they do, in their individual sports. The greatest swimmer cannot hope to compete with the greatest runner, who cannot hope to compete with the greatest beach volleyball player, who in turn would be useless as a speed skater. Even the decathlon athletes I can't consider the "greatest", because they can still be beaten by others. And then, as has been mentioned, there's the whole "spirit of the Olympics" thing...to my mind, almost every single athlete who has risen to the top in their individual countries in order to compete at the Olympics is the "greatest Olympian." Purely by virtue of having made it, been there, competed, and even if they placed dead last, they still gave it everything they had on an international stage.
    #11
    mar52
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 16:19:44 (permalink)
    Watched the open water Women's marathon this morning. Six laps around a lake which took over 2 hours. I'd like to see Michael Phelps compete against those women. He could never do it... the World's Greatest.
     
    I loved Misty and Carrie but I was a volleyball player in school. Didn't you hear me yell?
     
    Never had the stamina to swim. 
     
    I don't think there's a World's Greatest.  There is a best of sport and most decorated.
    #12
    kland01s
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/09 17:01:37 (permalink)
    I watched the women's 6.5 mile open water swim this morning too and as I said above thread, the swimmers swim, the runners run but just at varying lengths. The triathlon and decathlon athletes have to master several sports to be successful.
    #13
    SeamusD
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/10 09:51:34 (permalink)
    kland01s

    SeamusD

    saps

    A decathlete, then, would be the worlds greatest land Olympian in the sport of track and field. In winning the decathlon in 1976, Bruce Jenner actually only won 1 or 2 of the 10 events.

    I had 2 pairs of his sneakers when I was 7 or 8. Boy, they were ugly.


    And look where it got him, Mr Botox in the land of Kardasians.

    I know, poor guy. I hear he's coming out with a new line of shoes though.
    #14
    Foodbme
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/10 11:21:07 (permalink)
    There are over 300,000 registered members of U.S. Swimming ranging from kids to seniors. There are more than 2800 swim clubs in the U.S.
    Out of that number, 23 men and 25 women made the US Olympic Swim Team.
    http://www.usaswimming.org
    Other sports have similiar ratios.
    The point being, regardless of the sport, you need to be very good at it to get to the Olympics.
    All members of the U.S. Olympic Team qualify as the greatest IMHO!
    #15
    jmckee
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/10 12:34:07 (permalink)
    Sundancer7

    That will probably be debated for a long time.  My personal thoughts are:
    1:  Being the most decorated does not make you the best olympian but it makes you the most decorated.


    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN 


    Good point, Paul, indeed. Remember, Pete Rose once said, "I never claimed to be the greatest hitter, only to have the most hits."
    #16
    mar52
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/10 18:37:10 (permalink)
    Foodbme: 
    All members of the U.S. Olympic Team qualify as the greatest IMHO!

     
    Exactly!
    #17
    iluvcfood
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/10 20:25:14 (permalink)
    Simply winning the most medals in ONE sporting event no-where near qualifies that person as being the best Olympian ever!  It simply means they are the best in their sport!
    The likes of Jessee Owens and Bruce Jenner just to name only two were in my opinion better ALL around athletes then Phelps!
    I'd love to see how Phelps would do in any other event other then swimming?  Not good I'll bet!
    #18
    mr chips
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/10 22:15:55 (permalink)
    Jim Thorpe. He won the Olypic decathlon and played major league baseball and professional football.
    #19
    Foodbme
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/12 05:30:34 (permalink)
    Usain Bolt is The Greatest Olympian of all time!
    Don't believe it???
    Just ask him, he'll tell you!
    #20
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/12 10:45:04 (permalink)
    There can never be a Greatest Olympian of all Time. Track composition has changed dramatically over the years, training methods have changed even more dramatically. Athletes are bigger, faster and healthier in all events. Equipment is better. And, there are different events. Today there are high schoolers who consistenltly beat Jesse Owens Olympic times in the 100 and 200.
     
    Things change. 
    #21
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/13 07:41:52 (permalink)
    Tie:  Jim Thorpe and Jesse Owens.
     
    Today, most U.S. Olympians are professionals who, like prospective pros in other sports, train in hope of the "big payoff".  Nothing wrong with that, but it is a simple fact in today's society.
     
    When he "hit the pool" in 2012 was or was not Michael Phelps already a multi-millionaire from sport?  Frankly, aside from an 8 figure net worth vs. a 9 figure, I cannot see the difference between him and his fellow gold medalist Kobe Bryant. 
    post edited by MetroplexJim - 2012/08/13 07:48:22
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    Tony Bad
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/13 08:29:42 (permalink)
    MetroplexJim

    Today, most U.S. Olympians are professionals who, like prospective pros in other sports, train in hope of the "big payoff".  Nothing wrong with that, but it is a simple fact in today's society.

    When he "hit the pool" in 2012 was or was not Michael Phelps already a multi-millionaire from sport?  Frankly, aside from an 8 figure net worth vs. a 9 figure, I cannot see the difference between him and his fellow gold medalist Kobe Bryant. 

     
    Here is an interesting read about a great Olympian...
     
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/02/sports/othersports/02oerter.html
     
    Of particular note to me... "in 1987, he quit elite competition for good, saying, “The drug culture had taken over.”
     
    and...  In his 60s, after a visit to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, he lamented what he saw as a culture of professionalism entering track and field. “I saw athletes in their 30s training full time,” he said. “That’s their life. What happened to the rest of it? I’m happy that I had a normal life, with a career and family. That makes a person whole.”
     
    In the 1980's he trained in the evenings, after his regular work, in a field behind our local library. Kids would help him and chase down his discus. Nothing against today's athletes, but they are competing in an entirely different olympics than the competitors of 30+ years ago. To me, the magic of events like the 1980 hockey team will never be duplicated by a bunch of highly paid professionals. 
     
     
    #23
    jmckee
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/13 09:49:40 (permalink)
    Al Michaels made a great point about this last night. He said that Michael Phelps, as a swimmer, had more opportunities to get a medal than many other athletes. He was in four Olympics -- no gymnast will probably ever hit that mark, for example -- and had had many more chances for a medal in each Olympics. My wife makes the point that pole vaulters can only win one medal per Olympiad, as a comparison.
    #24
    Foodbme
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/13 10:57:28 (permalink)
    It was not the Athletes that created professional olympic athletics, it was Corporate America. You're an amateur doing well in your sport - Nike comes to you and says, "If you endorse our products, we'll pay you a Gazillion Dollars." What would you do?
    The other partners in crime are the watchdogs of the sport. The Olympic Committees and the IOC. They allowed it to happen. Don't blame the athletes.
     
    On the flip side, athletes would never reach the levels of performance we're seeing today without financial support provided by sponsorships. If the goal is to reach the highest level of natural performance without outside influences like drugs, then the current support system provides that. 
     
    post edited by Foodbme - 2012/08/13 10:58:32
    #25
    kland01s
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    Re:The Greatest Olympian of All Time 2012/08/13 13:00:05 (permalink)
    Here is an interesting clip from an Olympic Timeline from the 1972 Winter Games. Things changed after Brundage left:
     
     
    "Retiring IOC president Avery Brundage threatens to disqualify 40 Alpine skiers for taking money from ski product manufacturers. He ultimately makes an example of just one skier, barring Austrian Karl Schranz.
    Adding to the controversy, the United States, the Soviet Union, and others have been routinely circumventing the IOC's amateur code for decades, with no consequences. The Soviets have been paying their athletes for jobs they never actually perform, while the Americans have handed out athletic scholarships to thousands of athletes.
    Canada boycotts the Games, in protest of Eastern European "state amateurs."
    Norway's Magne Myrmo becomes the last athlete to win a cross-country skiing event using all-wooden skis.
    The Soviet Union maintains its lock at the top of the Winter Games standing.


    Read more: Olympics Timeline: 1950s to the 1980s — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/spot/olympicstimeline2.html#ixzz23RcZ8fvB
    post edited by kland01s - 2012/08/13 13:01:17
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