Sportco's undisputed list of the 10 Greatest Olympians of all time
"I stopped worrying about the start. The end is what is important." - Usain Bolt.
From the Jamaican all-time great Usain Bolt to the American starlet Micheal Phelps, the Olympics has witnessed some of the most eminent performances over time.
Over 25 editions of the biggest sporting event since its inception in 1900 has been the proud platform for producing some of the finest athletes and it still stands to be a token of honor for the players and Nations to win big at the event.
Today, at Sportco, we can take a look at the top 10 Greatest Olympians of all time who have managed to defy the odds and have their name cleaved to the Hall of fame.
1) Micheal Phelps (United States of America)
Inarguably, one of the greatest Olympians of all time if not the greatest, Micheal Fred Phelps II has a staggering 28 medals to his name which is by far the most by an Olympian to date.
Nicknamed "The Baltimore Bullet", Michael Phelps also holds the record for the most first-place finishes in a single Olympic edition by overhauling his fellow countryman Mark Spitz's record of 7 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In addition to his hunger for winning medals, the 36-year old also has a total of 39 world records under his belt, which includes 29 individual records and 10 relay records.
The best by some distance right?
2) Jesse Owens (United States of America)
The American sprinter may not stand out on his medal tally but there is a lot more to his achievement.
Owens was on a record-breaking spree at the 1935 Big ten track meet shattering three world records in a gap of an hour, the milestone that has never been achieved to date and is famously known as the greatest 45 minutes in sports history.
Ownes went on to win 4 Olympic gold medals at the track and field events held the very next year in Germany. His achievements still stand tall because of the politics that were clouded around the American sprinter and he played a crucial role in defying Adolf Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy.
Hence, to imagine what Jesse Owens has achieved during a tumultuous time in World History, the American is one of the greatest Olympians of all time in our opinion.
Sprinting is an extreme-strength exercise that tests muscle power, reaction and sprint speed. Just like Jesse Owens, every athlete who participates in Olympic running trains and fights hard to chase the medal. The running medal is also an important manifestation of witnessing their hard work and honor.
3) Larisa Latynina (Soviet Union)
The former Soviet Union Artistic gymnast made a huge impact in Gymnastics and she is credited with the honor of establishing the Soviet Union as a great force in Gymnastics over the years.
In addition to her remarkable achievement of achieving 14 individual Olympics medals, which includes 9 golds medals, the former gymnast has also been playing a crucial role in guiding the young gymnasts.
Larisa Latynina also holds the record for the most gold medals by a gymnast in both Male and female categories, with 9 gold medals to her name. Hence, Latynina deserves a place on our list of greatest Olympians of all time.
4) Usain Bolt (Jamaica)
The fastest man on the planet, Usain St Leo Bolt has made a name for himself on the sprint track. The retired Jamaican holds three world records to his name, namely in the 100 m, 200 m, and 4 x 100 m relay.
The 36-year old who knows nothing about coming second has won an astonishing 8 gold medals to his name and his record of 9.58 secs is certain to stand tall for at least a few years.
Which current sprinter do you think can beat the record?
5) Carl Lewis (United States of America)
Another American top the charts and this time it is the former track and field superstar Carl Lewis. With a career that spanned over 15 years, Lewis undoubtedly was a fierce hunter for medals.
Considered to be the “Olympian of the century” by various media establishments for his incredible achievements, Lewis was definitely the face of America in the ’80s.
The American is also only one of the three Olympians to have ever won a gold medal in the same individual event in four consecutive Olympic games.
Our list of the greatest Olympians of all time would be incomplete without the legendary sprinter from the U.S.A.
6) Mark Spitz (United States of America)
Former American champion swimmer, Mark Spitz has a total of 11 Olympic medals to his name which includes 9 gold. Spitz was the most successful athlete at the 1972 Olympics, in addition to the exemplary performance he also managed to win all the medals in a world-record-setting time.
Currently 71 years old, Spitz was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1977 and deserves a place on the top 10 list of greatest Olympians of all time.
7) Jackie Joyner-Kersee (United States of America)
Suffering from severe Asthma throughout her childhood, Kersee overcame the odds and went onto claim three gold medals at the biggest stage. With a total of 6 medals to her name in the heptathlon and long jump, she stands to be one of the greatest female athletes of all time.
Currently aged 59, she is an active philanthropist in various child-related activities and she is also playing a vital role in guiding young talents.
8) Teofilo Stevenson (Cuba)
“What is one million dollars compared to the love of eight million Cubans?”
The famous words by one of the greatest boxers to have ever contested in the Olympics, late Teofilo Stevenson, who turned down a 5-million USD deal to fight Mohammad Ali.
Teofilo Stevenson is only one of the three boxers to have ever won three gold medals. Any guesses on the other two legends? Well, it is Laszlo Papp of Hungary and Felix Savon of Cuba.
Stevenson never turned professional and ended his boxing career as an amateur boxer. It would have been really interesting had he turned professional as he was considered to be the best at the time and who knows, the Cuban may have made it among the biggest names of the sports.
9) Abebe Bikila (Ethiopia)
The first black-African gold medalist at the Olympics, Bikila created history by winning back-to-back gold medals at the Marathon. The Ethiopian made came to the limelight by winning his first marathon by running barefoot.
The greatest marathon runner had a sad ending to his career as his upper body was paralyzed after a fatal car accident and later passed away in the year 1972, at the age of 41.
The legend has many venues, stadiums, and schools named after him and he is still considered to be one of the greatest Olympians of all time.
10) Ray Ewry (United States of America)
After contracting polio at a very young age, Ray Ewry of the United States spent a few years of his childhood in a wheelchair.
With 8 gold medals to his name in the standing long jump event, Ewry, to date remains one of the greatest Olympians of all time with his sheer dedication combined with perseverance to overcome the odds still serves to be an inspiration for many.
Ewry’s eight gold medals for individual record stood all alone for more than 100 years until Micheal Phelps of the USA overhauled the tally by claiming 13 medals in his career.
Which of these famous Olympic athletes inspired you the most? Do you think we missed out on a big name on our list of the greatest Olympians of all time?
Do let us know in the comments, who are your favorite Olympic athletes and stay tuned with Sportco as we bring you exclusive content based on the biggest sporting event in the world.