Skip to comments.Michael Phelps not best Olympian ever? So says chief of London Olympics (Lord Sebastian Coe)
Posted on 08/02/2012 7:57:47 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Lord Sebastian Coe, two-time British Olympic gold medalist, revered British Olympic long-distance runner, and chief of the London Olympic organizing committee, has said the unthinkable.
Michael Phelps, in his estimation, is not the greatest Olympian of all time.
Later today, American officials are expected to announce the termination of all diplomatic relations with Great Britain, withdraw embassy staff from London, and issue a new deck of "most wanted" playing cards with Lord Coe as the joker.
For the record, his exact words, as reported by the Associated Press, were: "He is certainly the most successful. That goes without saying.... But whether he is the greatest? In my opinion, probably not."
How could Coe possibly say this? How do you argue with 19 medals especially when three more are certainly are not out of the realm of possibility here in London. On the all-time Olympic medal table, Phelps is threatening to lap the field.
Well, the argument goes something like this:
Imagine you are the best triathlete the world has ever seen. You win gold in every Olympics you enter, and you do it emphatically. You run faster, you cycle faster, and you swim faster than everyone else in the field. You compete, the world gasps, and your competitors are left to suck the fumes of your greatness.
In the end, you will win, what three gold medals, at the very most? On one very important level, you are equal with Phelps: You are the greatest athlete in the history of your sport. In the great medal argument, however, you are not even a bug on Phelps's windshield.
Coe, it would seem, would be particularly open to this argument as a runner in the 1500 meters not an event that allows athletes to pile up the Olympic hardware.
(Excerpt) Read more at csmonitor.com ...
I’ve gotta agree with him. Same goes for speed skaters in winter.
Totally ignorant a-hole, BUT media loves this stuff.
Anytbing critical of America or American values. Anything and anyone who wishes to go negative gets a megaphone.
He has a little bit of a point, actually. Both Phelps and Trey Hardee train here at UT, and if Phelps claimed he was a better athlete than Hardee, there would be a lot of raised eyebrows. But he hasn’t, so there is no need to try and take anything away from his amazing success.
Is it most medals? Is it by how much you beat your competitors? Is it the personal obstacles you overcame to become a champion?
I am sure there's other definitions out there, I just threw a few out there as a devils advocate.
Having said that.... Lord Coe is quite the doosh. Which, I don't believe, needs further defining.
He's right about swimmers having much greater opportunity to run up the medal count. Of course, he wouldn't bring it up if Phelps were a Brit.
Best Olympian is WAY too open to interpretation. Sheer number of medals may not be the best criterion. Nadia Comeneche (sp?) may not have won the most medals, but she was the first to score a perfect 10.0. That means a lot. Or, you can maintain margin of victory is important. Or breaking world records in categories that involve speed (track, swimming) or weight (weight-lifting).
I would also maintain that a pile of medals for swimming wouldn’t mean as much as a handful of medals for sports that require a variety of abilities such as a decathalon.
Finally, sports change over time, and we can’t really compare eras in some of these sports. I think it is foolish to ask who the greatest Olympian is/was. It is like asking who the greatest U.S. pro athlete was: Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan or Secretariat?
“Greatest” SWIMMER- Yes. Athlete, NO. Decathlon winners are the best ATHLETES. Bob Mathias won 2 at age 17 and 21
He’s right of course, some sports lend themselves easily to more gold medals, when one is at the top of their sport and their sport has a multitude of competitions they are going to win more overall medals. However, does that make the winner of the most medals the greated olympian ever? Certainly doesn’t have to.
I have to agree with him. If you have many variations of your main sport, you are bound to win more medals.
Swimmers, sprinters, distance-runners, etc... are specialists.
The decathlon winner is the best athlete at the Olympics (imho).
Jim Thorpe won the Decathlon (10 events) AND the Pentathlon (5 events). You can make a pretty strong argument that Thorpe was the greatest Olympic athlete ever.
this LORD SEBASTIAN COE is the rotten side of the David Allen Coe family.
Yes, but then again, how many people actually compete for the decathlon? I think sports with very few competitors—skeet, badminton, etc.—are eliminated just on that score.
If we’re talking about best athletes, it may well be that LeBron James is the best all-around athlete in the Olympics (but I wouldn’t credit him with being a best Olympian).
I think you might want to look for a combination of strength/speed/skill, with lots of competitors, that wins his/her competition running away, if you will.
I am a total non-sports person but you would seem to make a great point.
Carl Lewis competed in the long jump and numerous sprinting events. He has a pile of gold and world records over a long career.
Al Orter won 4 golds in the discus in the 4 summer Olympics he competed in. No athlete has ever won 4 golds in consecutive events. Also (something I know from experience), the sport is known to rip up a person's body from both form training (weight, speed, and form) and competing.
If you are making a list of best Olympians ever, Aleksandr Karelin has to be on that list. That guy was simply untouchable in Greco when at his peak. Even out of his prime he only lost the gold medal match in 2000 to Rulon Gardner based on a new and unpopular rule that was done away with shortly after the Sydney Olympics.
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