As the curtain closes on yet another fascinating Olympic Games, this time hosted in the vibrant and colourful city of Rio de Janeiro, we say good-bye to arguably the two greatest Olympians in recent memory, if not in the history of the Olympiad. Yes, with 37 medals between them (32 of them Gold) Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt have evolved into living legends, their names etched indelibly in the history books, and key household names world-wide. So who is the greatest Olympian?
In a fortnight where the best athletes in the world gathered to compete, with some incredible performances on show, yet again it was U.S aqua-man Phelps, and the Jamaican God of Speed Bolt that stood tall above all others, with the former claiming 5 Golds and 1 silver out of his 6 events (still only his third most successful games, mind) and the latter claiming the historical “treble treble”. What Rio taught us is that these two astonishing athletes are undoubtedly the best their sport has ever produced, and quite possibly the best we will ever see, and their legend status is irreversibly secure.
However that does not prevent us from asking the impossible question: which of them is the greatest Olympian of all time, if that is indeed the case?
To answer this, I have structured my article in line with some key headings to consider, such as longevity, level of dominance, level of success, personality, and where they compare to the other greats of the sport, before reaching a judgement. So please, sit comfortably, get that cup of tea ready and read on….