Michael Phelps won his 18th Olympic gold medal in the men’s 4×100 medley relay, bringing his career-haul to 22 Olympic medals overall. 18 gold medals more than doubles gymnasts Larisa Latynina’s career performance.
Is Michael Phelps the greatest athlete of all-time?
Sports analysis can do the math however they choose. Yes, Carl Lewis dominated track and field for a dozen years, and speed-skater Eric Heiden went five for five at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, and Jesse Owens prevailed in-front Hilter at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany…but their achievements, by the numbers, do not compare.
Phelps deserves a seat beside the greatest sports icons of last 100 years: Babe Ruth, Jack Nicklaus, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali.
Sadly, Phelps could add more to tally. He’s 27. Swimmers have won medals into late their 30s and early 40s, like Jason Lezak and Dara Torres. Phelps has at least three to four more medals in him. He could certainly medal at the 2016 Olympics in the 100 butterfly, 200 IM, and the 4×100 medley relay.
Phelps put a big exclamation point on his career today, and if you judge an athlete’s greatness by their dominance in their sport, then Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete that has ever lived.