Is Michael Phelps the Greatest Athlete of All-Time

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.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

38 Comments on "Is Michael Phelps the Greatest Athlete of All-Time"

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

I really like Michael Phelps. And I consider him amongst the greatest athletes but I could never think of calling him the greatest athlete of all time. Olympian yes, but we know that term is dubious because it is frankly impossible to quantify the differences between sports other than medal count.

Babe Ruth looks a little like Gumby Ruth

Martin Zubero

In my opinion, Michael achieved the pinnacle of athletics four years ago in China winning eight gold medals. Lucky in the 4 x 100 free relay and 100 fly…..maybe. So what he won eight.

What he did in London might not have lived to other peoples expectations but a three peat in two events is unprecedented period. Eight golds in one Olympiad puts Michael in another stratosphere. The bar has been set at an extremely high level that will be hard to surpass. Spitz set the bar, Phps broke it and someone else will down the road. Michael we will miss you.


About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

Read More »