Greatest athletes to have graced the Olympics

michael phelps isnOver the years, the world has seen many great Olympians who have contributed immensely towards their respective discipline. Indian Sports News in a bid to pay tribute to these great ambassadors of sports has prepared a list of five athletes who have become synonymous to their sport. There are a lot many stars who deserve to fit in this illustrious list, but then we could have accommodated just five. This might not be the ultimate list and can be disputed and we would be more than happy to receive feedback on this.

Top five Olympians of all time:

Larisa Latynina (Gymnastics): No athlete has ever been so dominating than Larisa Latynina. Latynina who represented Soviet Union in gymnastics has won 18 medals in three Olympics including nine golds. She has won more medal than any athlete in any sport and was responsible for putting Soveit Union on the gymnastic map.Latynina received the Olympic order in the year 1989 and was also inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Michael Phelps (Swimming): When Mark Spitz won seven gold medals in 1972 Munich Olympics, nobody would have ever thought that someone would break his unmatchable record in the pool. But 38 years later, one of his fellow countrymen came up with the astonishing feat and finished up with eight gold medals in Beijing Olympics. Michael Fred Phelps, with an overall medal hauls of 16 medals -- including six gold medals and two bronze at Athens in 2004 and eight gold medals at Beijing in 2008 – undoubtedly deserves a place in the top 10 great athletes of all time. His rare feat made him most successful athlete in the pool at the Olympic Games.

Phelps's international titles and record breaking performances have earned him the World Swimmer of the Year Award six times and American Swimmer of the Year Award eight times. He has won a total of sixty-six medals in major international competition, fifty-four gold, nine silver, and three bronze spanning the Olympics, the World, and the Pan Pacific Championships.

Usain Bolt (Athletics): We never saw Jesse Owens sprint, but this generation has been fortunate to see the thunder called Usain Bolt who eclipsed all the records at one go in Beijing Olympics. The Jamaican sprinter’s performance at the Beijing Games was one of the most remarkable in history. It was there that he set the Olympic and world records for the 100 metres at 9.69 seconds (even though he slowed down at the finish to celebrate), the 200 metres at 19.30 seconds, and also the world record for the 4x100 relay, making him the first man to win all three events at a single Olympics since Carl Lewis in 1984, and the first man in history to set world records in all three at a single Olympics. That he set these records without seemingly trying makes it all the more unbelievable.

He became the first junior sprinter to run the 200 m in under 20 seconds with a time of 19.93 s. His 2008 season began with his first world record performance a 100 m world record of 9.72 s—and culminated in world and Olympic records in both the 100 m and 200 m events at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. He ran 9.69 s for the 100 m and 19.30 s in the 200 m, and also set a 4×100 m relay record of 37.10 s with the Jamaican team. The following year he further lowered his own 100 m and 200 m world records to 9.58 s and 19.19 s respectively at the 2009 World Championships. This made him the first man to hold both the 100 and 200 m world and Olympic titles at the same time.

Mark Spitz (Swimming): Mark Spitz’s seven gold medals at the Olympics was a benchmark for all the swimmers of the subsequent eras and was only seen overtaken by his fellow countryman Michael Phelps in Beijing 2008. Spitz has got 11 Olympic medals including eight golds, a sliver and a bronze to his credit. He won seven gold medals at the 1976 Munich Olympic. He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in the year 1977. 

Nadia Comaneci (Gymnastics): Nadia Comaneci is a Romanian gymnast and has won five gold medals in Olympics (three in 1976 Olympics and two in 1980 Olympics). Comaneci also won three silver and one bronze in Olympics (one silver and bronze in 1976 and two silver in 1980) and was also the first female gymnast to have been awarded perfect 10 in an Olympic. Comaneci received the Olympic Order, the highest award given by the International Olympic Committee, in 1984 and 2004. She is the only person to receive this honour twice, and was also the youngest recipient. She has also been inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame and in 2000 Comaneci was named as one of the athletes of the century by the Laureus World Sports Academy

By Indian Sports News Network