It’s Olympic season! In the midst of the winter games, several athletes take the world’s biggest stage. Some for the first time, and some for the last time. Between the Summer and Winter Olympics, the world has seen a great deal of talent from various countries over the years. Thus raises the question, who is the greatest Olympian of all time? The DC Sports writers each have their takes:
As the most decorated Olympian of all time with a whopping 28 medals, 23 of which are gold, I can safely say that Phelps is a pretty easy pick. To put into perspective how crazy that is, the closest Olympian to Phelps’ 28 career medals is former Soviet Union gymnast Larisa Latynina with 14. Phelps dominated his competition in a way that no one will ever forget. Whether it was the 200m butterfly or the 400m medley, Phelps routinely grabbed gold medals like he was taking candy from a baby. This wasn’t just a few years of greatness either, as the swimmer had an absolutely legendary Olympic career from 2000-16. If you want to put a picture in the dictionary next to greatness, Phelps is a top contender for that spot and nobody can deny that.
Did you really think that I was going to leave out the greatest sprinter of our time? Bolt, the Jamaican sensation, participated in three Olympic games and impressed the crowd every time he did. Whenever he participated in an Olympic sprinting event, you knew Bolt was going to win it, as proven by his perfect record. He suffered only one disqualification on the 2008 4×100 team, but won gold in every other event he participated in. There’s no other person in history that will be as successful as he was, especially since he’s the only person to win the 100 and 200 meter dashes in three Olympic games. His trademark pose following every race will go down in history as one of the best of all time. If Michael Phelps is the legend of the Olympic sea, then Bolt is the legend of the Olympic land.
When asked to pick my favorite Olympian of all time, how could I not go with Shaun White? The Michael Jordan of the halfpipe, this guy has been to five Olympic Winter Games, and every time he’s hit the podium he’s been on top. Like Phelps and Bolt, he is must-watch television when he takes the stage. After a brutal fourth place finish in Sochi in 2014, he came into Pyeongchang with a vengeance, landing back-to-back 1440s in his final run to take home his record third halfpipe gold. Outside of the halfpipe, White is a legend as well, with his iconic line “I’m talking Mountain Dews, baby!” delivered when asked about getting drinks to celebrate his first medal. While we’ve just seen the last of White at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, he will forever remain my favorite Olympian of all time due to how he transcended snowboarding.
It is difficult to decide who my favorite Olympic athlete of all time would be because in the past, I have had the pleasure of seeing many great athletes represent the United States. However, my pick is someone I did not get to witness live, but was fortunate enough to get to read about and watch videos of his greatness in the boxing ring — Muhammad Ali. As someone who transcended the sport of boxing, Ali reached people as a role model and hero. Also known as Cassius Clay, Ali went to the 1960 Rome Games at only 18 years old and competed in the light heavyweight division. He won all four of his fights easily defeated three time champion Zbigniew Pietrzykowski in the final to win the gold medal. After competing in the Olympics, Ali turned professional and won the heavyweight championship in 1964. In 1996, Ali was chosen to light the flame during the Opening Ceremony of the Atlanta Olympic Games. Even though he has passed away, his contribution to the world and the sport of boxing will live on forever.
Joseph Cirrito IV
Being asked to pick my favorite Olympian of all time was not an easy task. In the end, I had to pick one of the greatest downhill skiers to hit the slopes. Lindsey Vonn was fascinating to watch during her performances, not only at the Winter Games but throughout her entire career, collecting many World Cup titles, world championship medals and Olympic medals. Watching highlights from the start of her career in 2000 at the age of 16 is still exhilarating to this day. Although she suffered multiple scary injuries throughout her career, she stayed resilient and continued to fight for the many titles she earned. Her feel-good career story, along with her three Olympic medals, cements Vonn as one of the greatest skiers of all time and with that, one of the greatest Olympians to grace the sport of skiing.