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Michael Phelps-Greatest Athlete of All Time?

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Deeper_Background, Jun 15, 2007.

  1. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I think there is a reasonable argument to be made that he is.

    What he did in Australia this year exceeded what Spitz did in Munich.

    Biondi isn't even in the argument, nafselon.
  2. Claws for Concern

    Claws for Concern Active Member

    I'd even give water polo players as much if not more consideration for best athlete in the pool.
  3. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    How time flies. A day after Michael Phelps confined Ian Thorpe to history over 200 metres freestyle in 1 min 43.86sec and on a night when a further three world records fell at the Rod Laver Arena, the 21-year-old American won the 200 metres butterfly in 1:52.09, the biggest improvement — 1.71sec — in the world record in that event for 48 years.

    In 1972 in Munich, on his way to winning a record seven gold medals, Spitz took the 200 metres titles in world records of 2:00.70 in the butterfly and 1:52.78 in the freestyle. Not only is Phelps faster in the butterfly than Spitz was in the freestyle, he would have made the Olympic 200 metres freestyle final in the butterfly at all Games up to and including Los Angeles 1984.

  4. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member

    Swimmers are in the pool for a matter of a few minutes for their events.

    Plus, there is no secondary skill to go with the sheer athleticism (throwing a ball, hitting a ball, catching a ball and holding on when you are hammered by a LB, etc.)

    Hard for me to buy that one.
  5. MartinEnigmatica

    MartinEnigmatica Active Member

    I'll offer Jim Thorpe or Bo Jackson as alternatives to the greatest athlete of all-time, just off the top of my head. Sure it was a different time, but for crying out loud, Thorpe did the Olympic decathlon, pro football and baseball. Maybe Phelps could hurl a javelin longer than Thorpe did, but he's never tried.
  6. Huggy

    Huggy Well-Known Member

    Don't know what this has to do with this discussion but back when Dan Jenkins was writing his sports column for Plyboy in the 80s, he did one on the World Cup (I think it was '86). He encountered a Maradona fan who claimed that his man was the greatest athlete in the world. To which Dan wrote, "Not in my country he's not. At 5'5" he'd be a second baseman. Or a jockey."

    Carry on.
  7. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Not defending him as the Greatest Athlete, Simon. Simply pointing out that he's possibly the greatest swimmer. Better than Spitz? Demonstrably.

    Let me ask this, though, as I always do when these threads arise: How are we defining 'greatest?' And why do you think we have to include a stick or a ball to do so?
  8. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member

    I base it on athleticism plus my perceived difficulty of game/sport.
  9. Mayfly

    Mayfly Active Member

    I would like to see Jim Thorpe swim in a pool

    In all seriousness, Michael Phelps needs to be considered the greatest athlete of possibly this decade, not of all-time. Phelps has won countless golds at the different levels of his sport, and will continue to for some time. By the time the next Olympics rolls around, I expect him to have a couple more. The Phelps-Thorpe was one of the best mano-a-mano rivalries in all of sports, considering the essence of competition.
  10. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Swimming is basically the oldest sport in the history of time. It is more of a sport than baseball or basketball could every dream to be. Every culture in human history had swam to find food, find shelter and safety and to survive. To say "he doesn't have a secondary skill" is irrelevant. It's not a sport? You can make an interesting argument it's thee sport.

    And part of what makes Phelps so incredible is that he's both a sprinter and a mid-distance guy. And he's incredible in a variety of strokes. If he were just a backstroker like Piersol or a breaststroker like Brendan Hansen, it would be one thing. But Phelps, if you spread a program out over several weeks, could literally medal in just about every event except the major distance ones.
  11. Deeper_Background

    Deeper_Background Active Member

    Or Wilt, who was a good high jumper, triple jump and volleyball player.
  12. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Jim Brown: one of the top 2-3 all time in football and lacrosse.
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