Monday, August 18, 2008
I am going to make a pretty bold statement, but its one that I believe many Americans can agree with. Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete of all-time. Period. Not only the greatest swimmer, not only the greatest Olympian, but the very best athlete the world has ever seen.
11,028 athletes traveled to Beijing to compete, but none of them faced the pressure Michael Phelps encountered. Phelps didn't just handle the pressure, he thrived in it. Phelps didn't just dominate, he captivated the entire country. After the 4x100 relay, amidst the high fives and the "U-S-A" chants, I realized how special Phelps's performance was.
The most impressive feat by Phelps was his extraordinary comeback to win the 100m butterfly by just .01 seconds. To me, a legend was born at the end of that race. That was one of several dramatic finishes, and Phelps owes a lot of credit to his teammates. Something that the humble Phelps will gladly do.
As Phelps captured his eighth gold of the Beijing games, I tried to brainstorm a list of the greatest athletes of all-time. To me, Phelps sits atop that list. Heres what I came up with, in no particular order:
You can make a case for any one of these athletes, but nobody (maybe with the exception of Spitz) displayed the type of dominance Phelps just did. Of course, we are comparing apples to oranges here, and it is quite possible that there is no 1 single "best athlete of all-time". However, all things considered, I'm sticking to my guns. Michael Phelps is the greatest ever.