Top 10 Greatest Olympians of All Time

The Top Ten
1 Michael Phelps Michael Fred Phelps II (born June 30, 1985) is an American former competitive swimmer and the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals. Phelps also holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals (23), Olympic gold medals in individual events (13), and Olympic... read more

By the end of the 2012 Olympics, he will have the most Olympic medals ever. Mark Spitz and Eric Heiden were fantastic athletes, but Phelps is in a league of his own.

Easily the best. 5 time Olympian, more gold medals, let alone medals, than anyone in history, countless records, and who can forget going 8 for 8?...need I say more?

He is the best athlete in the world. He is my role model, and hopefully someday I can be just as good as him! Truly an inspiration.

2 Usain Bolt Usain St Leo Bolt is a Jamaican retired sprinter, widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time. He is a world record holder in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay... read more

Okay, he's only competed in one Olympic Games. But sport is an entertainment, and he stunned audiences around the world like no other.

Sport is also about achievement, and to be the fastest moving human being that has ever lived... well, make your own mind up.

He is insanely talented.
Not even in the same league as the rest of the world.

3 Jim Thorpe James Francis "Jim" Thorpe was an American athlete and Olympic gold medalist. A member of the Sac and Fox Nation, Thorpe became the first Native American to win a gold medal for the United States.

Athletes can only be compared to other athletes of their time period. Training, diet, and modern facilities give athletes of modern times a considerable advantage. That being said in my opinion Jim Thorpe is the greatest athlete of all times!

Now contest! Read the history books and you know he was and still is by far the greatest athletes to ever live...

4 Michael Jordan Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player.
5 LeBron James LeBron Raymone James is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. LeBron has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and the Lakers.
6 Jesse Owens James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and field athlete and four-time gold medalist in the 1936 Olympic Games.Owens specialized in the sprints and the long jump and was recognized in his lifetime as "perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in... read more

Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 - a remarkable achievement in itself, but even more so when you consider that the black athlete achieved his victories in the swastiker-clad heart of Nazi Germany.

Jesse Owens moved America a step closer to equality for all and showed the world the fallacy in Hitlers super race ideas that were gaining popularity. May we never forget.

Defied prejudice, racism, and a master race.

7 Cassius Clay Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist, entertainer, poet, and philanthropist. Nicknamed The Greatest, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sporting figures of the 20th century, and... read more
8 Steve Redgrave Sir Steven Geoffrey Redgrave is a retired British rower who won gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games from 1984 to 2000. He has also won three Commonwealth Games gold medals and nine World Rowing Championships golds.

Better than Michael Phelps. Easy to win swimming golds, as there are way more events whereas in rowing you can usually only do one. A truly great athlete. For almost 20 years he completely dominated, not to mention fighting diabetes.

Five Gold medals in a power/strength/endurance event in five consecutive Olympics makes him the greatest Olympian ever, much more so than the sheer number of gold medals won by Phelps, as great as his own achievement may be.

Consistency, being a gold medalist for 20 years. A perfect career in a sport that you can't be a professional and can't have many sponsors. Respect.

9 Carl Lewis Frederick Carlton "Carl" Lewis is an American former track and field athlete who won nine Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal, and 10 World Championships medals, including eight gold. His career spanned from 1979 to 1996, when he last won an Olympic event.

For what he did in one Olympic 1984 - 4 Gold, and 4 Gold in 4 consecutive Olympics in the Long Jump, for his durability over 4 olympics, and 1980 he would have made the team but there was a boycott (so he was denied a 5th olympics) an

10 Michael Johnson

'The only person who could beat Michael in his day was Michael Johnson.' Johnson was virtually unbeatable.Going into the 1996 Olympic games Johnson had won 54 straight finals at 400m, and had remained unbeaten for seven years.

The Contenders
11 Nadia Comaneci

Nadia was so ahead of her time that it was ridiculous.

She was doing aerials, 2 of them on the beam alone with three flip flops. She dismounted beam with a double twist when her rivals did single twists. Aerials are still rated a D in today's much harder scoring system.

She even has an E rated release move on her UB routine named after her. E rated skills still have among the highest rating under today's scoring system).

She was doing 2 double backs in 1976 when the floor mat had no springs. Today's floor mats have a ton of springs, yet even in the Elite group, many of today's gymnasts had a hard time ending their floor with another double back. Comaneci did that in 1976... That's almost 40 years ago!

Mark Spitz won SEVEN gold medals at his Olympics. But check out his time comparing to Michael Phelps!

Comaneci was the Queen of all the Olympics. There is no King.

12 Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist, entertainer, poet, and philanthropist. Nicknamed The Greatest, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sporting figures of the 20th century, and... read more

Muhammad Ali has become one of the most infamous Olympians ever, as much for what he did outside of the boxing ring as what he did with the gloves on.

He is the best because no one expected it and it isn't always about the number of medals. In some sports you can't win more than a couple of medals.

13 Larisa Latynina
14 Mark Spitz Mark Andrew Spitz is an American former competitive swimmer, nine-time Olympic champion, and former world record-holder in seven events.

There were two things swimmer Mark Spitz wasn't short of: confidence and medals. Before the 1968 Olympics he boasted that he would win six gold medals - he took home only two

15 Emil Zatopek

Should be way higher. Wins the marathon the first time he ever competed--after he already won the 5 and 10K

16 Aleksandr Karelin
17 Fanny Blankers-Koen
18 Leonidas of Rhodes
19 Michelle Kwan
20 Bruce Jenner
21 Nikolai Andrianov

The third greater Olympian with a total of 15 medals, 7 of them gold.

22 Eric Heiden

How is a guy who won 5 gold medals in a single games competing at totally different distances not #1 let alone even on this list. Can you imagine Usain Bolt winning his events and then 1500, 5000 and 10000 m?!

23 Ray Ewry

American track and field athlete who won 8 gold medals at the Olympic Games and two gold medals at the Intercalated Games. This puts him among the most successful Olympians of all time.
He took part in three Olympic Games (1900-1908) winning the standing long jump, triple jump and high jump in the first two and the standing long and high jump in the last one.

24 Theagenes of Thasos

Theagenes of Thasos was an ancient Greek Olympian, typically spelled Theogenes before the first century AD.
He became distinguished in every kind of athletic contest, and gained numerous victories at the Olympian, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian games. Often described as an extremely strong, muscular, and tall man, Theagenes went on to win two Olympic titles, in boxing in 480 because and pankration in 476 because. In addition, he won three times in the Pythian Games, nine times in the Nemean and ten times in the Isthmian. According to ancient sources, Theagenes competed for 22 years in every major combat competition of his time (boxing, pankration, wrestling), winning various titles all across the ancient world. Greek historian Pausanias claimed that he won an estimated 1,400 fights; about 1,200 more victories than Willie Pep, who, with 229 wins, is considered the most successful boxer of our day.

25 Milo of Croton

Milo of Croton was a 6th-century because wrestler from the Magna Graecian city of Croton, who enjoyed a brilliant wrestling career and won many victories in the most important athletic festivals of ancient Greece. Milo was a six-time Olympic victor. He won the boys' wrestling (probably in 540 because), and thereafter five men's wrestling titles between 536 and 520 BCE. He also won seven crowns at the Pythian Games at Delphi (one as a boy), ten at the Isthmian Games, and nine at the Nemean Games. Milo was a five-time Periodonikes, a "grand slam" sort of title bestowed on the winner of all four festivals in the same cycle. Milo's career at the highest level of competition must have spanned 24 years.

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