Greatest Athletes in Olympics
The Olympic Games are the greatest of all international sporting events in the world. Every four years, thousands of athletes from all the countries across the globe participate in these games, to translate their dexterity and efforts into medals for the respective countries that they represent. There are various kinds of competitions in the Olympics. The modern version of the Olympic Games originates from the ancient Olympic Games which dates back to the time frame of 8th century – 4th century BC, in Olympia in Greece, in honour of the Greek God, Zeus. Historians believe that the tournament was held for the first time in 776 BC, where the representatives of city-states of Ancient Greece participated. The modern version brings together people from more than 200 countries in team games, as well as individual segments. These tournaments exhibit the athletic talents that the countries nurture. Let us read about the Top 10 Greatest Athletes in Olympics History.
Top 10 Greatest Athletes in Olympics History
1. Michael Phelps
American swimmer Michael Phelps was nicknamed the Flying Fish because of his amazing ability to cut through the water. Legendary swimmer Mark Spitz once stated about him, “It goes to show you that not only is this guy the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time, he’s maybe the greatest athlete of all time.” Phelps is the winner of the highest number of medals in Olympic history with his 22 Olympic medals. He won 6 gold medals and 2 Bronze medals while setting 2 world records at 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. He achieved 8 gold medals while making a world record in all events he participated other than 100 meter butterfly in 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He again won 4 gold medals and 2 silver medals in 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He was honored with World Swimmer of the Year Award seven times by Swimming World Magazine.
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2. Larisa Latynina
Former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina is widely regarded as the best gymnast the world has ever seen. Her contribution to the development of gymnastics successfully established Soviet Union as a dominant force in Olympic. She won a total of 18 medals in her Olympic career which includes her still undefeated Olympic record of 14 medals in the individual event. She won 4 gold medals, 1 Silver medal and 1 Bronze medal in 1956 Melbourne Olympic. Larisa achieved 3 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 1 bronze medal in 1960 Rome Olympic. She again achieved 2 gold medals, 2 Silver medals and 2 bronze medals in 1964 Tokyo Olympic. Besides her Olympic career, she also won 9 gold medals, 4 silver medals and a bronze medal in World Championships. Larisa also won 7 gold medals, 6 silver medals and a bronze medal in European Championships.
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3. Nikolai Andrianov
Former Soviet gymnast Nikolai Andrianov is widely regarded as the best male gymnast of all time. His 15 Olympic medals established him as the third highest Olympic medal achiever of all time. He still holds the men’s record for most individual Olympic medals in Artistic Gymnastics. He won a gold medal, a silver and a bronze in 1972 Munich Olympic. While sitting on the peak of his performance, he won 4 gold medals, 2 silver medals and a bronze medal in 1976 Montreal Olympic. He again achieved 2 gold medals, 2 silver medals and a bronze medal in 1980 Moscow Olympic. Besides his Olympic journey, he also achieved 4 gold medals and 6 silver medals in World Championships and won 10 gold medals, 6 silver medals and 2 bronze medals in European Championships.
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4. Carl Lewis
American former track and field athlete Carl Lewis is the world record holder of indoor long jump, and his record has still remained unbeaten since 1984. He achieved below 10 second benchmark 15 times in 100 meters event, and achieved 20 seconds benchmark 10 times in 200 meters event during his career. He won 4 gold medals in 1984 Los Angeles Olympic, 2 gold medals and a silver medal in 1988 Seoul Olympic, and won 2 gold medals in 1992 Barcelona Olympic. Lewis again won a gold medal in 1996 Atlanta Olympic after which he retired. Besides his Olympic legacy, he also won 8 gold medals, a silver medal and a bronze medal in World Championships. He was voted the “Sportsman of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee. Lewis also named as the “Olympian of the Century” by the Sports Illustrated.
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5. Mark Spitz
American former swimmer Mark Spitz established world records in all seven events in which he competed in Olympics which is indeed another world record by itself. He was the most decorated athlete in the Olympic history for 36 years from the accomplishment till Michael Phelps surpassed it in 2008 Beijing Olympics. He won 2 gold medals, a silver medal and a bronze medal in 1968 Mexico City Olympic. Spitz again won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, which is one of the best performances by any athlete in any event of Olympic history. Besides Olympics, he also achieved 31 US Amateur Athletic Union titles, 8 US National Collegiate Athletic Association titles and 5 Pan American gold medals. He was inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1977.
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6. Paavo Nurmi
Former Finnish middle and long-distance runner, PaavoNurmi, still widely considered as the best long distance runner of all time even after his death in 1973. He was nicknamed the “Flying Finn” for his monopolistic domination of distance running in the early 20th century. He was undefeated for a world record 121 races at the event of 800 meters and above running. No one was able to beat him in cross country events and the 10,000 meters events throughout his 14 years of career. He won 3 gold medals and 1 Silver medal in 1920 Antwerp Olympic. Nurmi achieved 5 gold medals in his second Olympic appearance at 1924 Paris Olympic. He again achieved a gold medal and 2 Silver medals in 1928 Amsterdam Olympic. He was the lighter of the Olympic Flame at 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics.
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7. Jim Thorpe
The greatest and most versatile player of all time, Jim Thorpe, not only just succeeded in American football and baseball but also while participating in basketball matches and various events of Olympic. He was voted the “Greatest Athlete of the Twentieth Century” among several amazingly skilled and popular players like Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali in a poll conducted by ABC Sports for the sports fans. After being awarded with All-American honors for college football he participated in 1912 Summer Olympics in Sweden and won 2 gold medals for pentathlon and decathlon. Besides being the most skillful contender in every sport, he also won the 1912 intercollegiate ballroom dancing championship. He was inducted in various halls of fame for various sports and Disney also twice mentioned him in their 1973 film The World’s Greatest Athlete.
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8. Nadia Comaneci
Former Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci is widely regarded as the most perfect gymnast of all time. She participated in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montréal at the age of 14 and created a world record of a perfect score of 10 in Olympic gymnastics. As an interesting fact, before she reached the perfect ten, it was believed to be impossible by the authorities of Olympic committee. So they didn’t even ask the official scoreboard and watchmaker Omega to made one scoring board that could display 4 digits to mark a perfect 10.00, so her score was displayed as 1.00 instead. She won 3 gold medals, 1 Silver medal and 1 Bronze medal in 1976 Montréal Olympic. Nadia again achieved 2 gold medals and 2 silver medals in 1980 Moscow Olympic. Besides Olympic, she won 2 gold and 2 silver medals in World Championships and also won 9 gold medals in European Championships.
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9. Usain Bolt
Legendary Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is widely regarded as the fastest man in history. He was nicknamed “Lightning Bolt” for his amazing sprint of 100 meters within a world record of 9.58 seconds in Berlin 2009. After being amazingly successful in junior world championships, he started to participate in Olympics from 2008. He won 3 gold medals in 2008 Beijing Olympic and also won 3 more gold medals in 2012 London Olympic. Besides Olympic, he achieved 8 gold medals and 2 silver medals in World Championships and won the 4×100 meter relay recently at 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. He is one of the richest athletes of all time and also the highest paid athlete ever on track and field. He was named IAAF World Athlete of the Year five times and became Track & Field Athlete of the Year twice.
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10. Jesse Owens
Former American track and field athlete Jesse Owens was stated as “the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history” by the New York Times, while publishing the news about his death on March 31, 1980. His achievement of three world records within 45 minutes at the 1935 Big Ten track meet was named as “the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport” by Sports Illustrated. After showing his incredible skills in college championships while he was at Ohio State University, he participated in 1936 Olympic, which was officially opened by Führer Adolf Hitler. Owens won 4 gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympic and achieved a “top of the table” medal winner list. In the audience seating area which was used as a giant video screen to show footage of Owens running around the stadium was a main attraction in the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
Be it individual events like swimming, archery, etc., or the team games like basketball or hockey, the athletes give their best. Many players have won enormous fame and money, while some players have vanished completely after being one-hit wonders.
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