August 15, 2012
10. Usain Bolt – Usain Bolt holds the prestigious title of “the fastest man alive,” and wears the crown well. He is charming and fun, but most importantly, he is fast. He has 6 gold medals in the Olympics, and has personally rewritten everything that we know about human speed. Scientists thought that men could only run about 20 mph at top speed. They were wrong. Bolt has shattered everything that people knew about sprinters. At 6’5″, he towers over the heads of all the other sprinters whose sizes range from 5’8″ to 6′. Because of the length of his stride, he takes 4-6 less steps to cover the same distance as the other runners. Usain held the World and Olympic records for the 100M and the 200M dash after the 2008, then broke his own records by 2012. In this year’s Olympic 100M, Yohan Blake finished the race in 9.75, about 0.7 seconds off the Olympic record. He lost by more than a tenth of a second to Bolt who ran the race in 9.63. He is the only man to break the Olympic record for the 100 and 200 in history.
9. Michael Johnson – Michael Johnson ran like a machine. His upright form, and mechanical gait made him a perfect candidate for running middle distances, and he did not fail to impress in the Olympics. He swept the 200 and 400 in his first Olympics. Then, upon his return to the Olympics, he donned golden shoes, and repeated the feat. Johnson finished his Olympic career with 4 gold medals and still holds the Olympic and World records in the 400.
8. Jackie Joyner-Kersee – Jackie Joyner-Kersee was a symbol of women’s athletics in the late eighties and early nineties. She combined natural charm and grace with power and femininity. In the 1980 games, Joyner-Kersee won a silver medal, but then she won gold in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. She was the most dominant heptathlon athlete in Olympic history, and a role model for young women everywhere.
7. Greg Louganis – Louganis won his first medal in the 1976 Olympics at 16, but since the Americans did not participate in the 1980 Olympics, he missed out on his chance that year. When he returned in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics he won two more gold medals each time.
6. Jesse Owens – During the 1936 Olympics, Hitler was publicly propagating and praising the superiority of the Aryan race. Hitler planned to use the Olympics as a showcase for his politics. All Owens did was win all 4 of the 4 events that he was entered into by his coaches, a feat that had only been accomplished once at the time. Jesse Owen fought communism and racism by simply running and winning in front of the world.
5. Mark Spitz – Mark Spitz is the only Olympic swimmer that can be compared to Michael Phelps. He broke records and received the gold for every medal that he earned in the 1972 Olympics. Before Phelps broke his record of 9 gold and 11 total medals, Spitz was the most decorated American Olympian in history.
4. Larisa Latynina -Latynina’s dominance over the sport of gymnastics lasts for three different Olympics. She earned 9 gold medals and 18 total medals in the course of twelve years in sport. Until recently, Larisa Latynina was by far the most decorated Olympian ever to compete.
3. Nadia Comaneci – Comanechi, the Romanian gymnast, has won 9 medals in total, 5 of them being gold. Comanechi is the standard by which all gymnasts are measured. She was the first woman to ever have a perfect score during competitions and then did it six more times. She destroyed her opponents on the world’s biggest stage.
2. Michael Phelps – Michael Phelps is the quintessential swimmer. He has broad, powerful shoulders, a long torso, huge hands, and even webbed toes. He sets the prototypical standard and even fills a playful rumor about being part fish. He won 8 medals in 2004, 6 of them were gold. He went 8 for 8 in gold medals in the 2008 Olympic games, and Phelps’ new record of 22 total medals set here in 2012 may never be reached again. He has dominated his sport like no swimmer ever has before.
1. Carl Lewis – Carl Lewis never finished less than second in any Olympics, and that happened only once. He finished his career with 10 Olympic medals, 9 of them gold. He won the long jump 4 times in a row which tied the record for winning gold in any Olympic event. During his career, he set records in the 100, 200, and long jump. In fact, he was unbeaten in the long jump over the span of ten years, and his record for the indoor long jump has stood since 1984. During that 10 year period, Lewis had 65 consecutive victories in the event.