Analysis: Is Michael Phelps The Greatest Athlete Ever?

August 16, 2008



A person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility, and endurance, that are necessary for physical exercise or sports, especially those performed in competitive contexts.


It’s been hovering around him since the opening ceremony, and now after he has shattered six world records and won seven of his seven entered races, there is no question to many sports fans and journalists alike that Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete ever to set foot on Earth. He has the three key components of a true athlete: strength, agility, and endurance, and he happens to compete in a sport that demands each of those traits. But is he really the best? I beg to differ.

There is no disputing that Phelps is the greatest swimmer ever, but some people need to seriously contemplate making a statement like this, which in my opinion is very premature. The world has only seen this guy for less than a week, and whatever he has managed to accomplish is admittedly extremely impressive, but the world has simply seen better out of a human being. It seems like in all this excitement the world has forgotten the flawless performances that have been displayed thus far in the world of sports ranging from Kobe Bryant’s 81 point performance, where relentless scoring met grace and agility, to Michael Jordan’s illustrious career. And who can forget Walter Payton’s mesmerizing speed and toughness in the dirty sport of American football and Usain Bolt’s recent world records with arguably the best sprinting ever showcased. And what about Pele, Gordie Howe, Magic Johnson, and the many others who really were sports during their era. 

And we keep forgetting the unknown sports that really showcase the most challenging and athletic ability — Big Mountain Skiing, Biatholan, the marathon, horse racing, gymnastics, and (my favorite) — parkour.

So is Michael Phelps the greatest athlete ever? It’s very hard to tell, and it all comes down to a long and hard thought by a well respected journalist. So who is the greatest athlete ever? David Belle. Look him up.


5 Responses to “Analysis: Is Michael Phelps The Greatest Athlete Ever?”

  1. tim Says:

    Of course, what you really mean is “The Greatest American Athlete Ever”.

  2. pacer521 Says:

    ahhhhh — I really can’t say. In truth there is a class of athletes that are all above the rest, and you really can’t distinguish one of them yourself as the greatest athlete ever. My pick is David Belle, because of his amazing agility and sports IQ. But as far as the greatest American Athlete — MJ. Maybe by the end of Phelp’s career he will surpass him, but he’s going to have to win 8 gold’s a year to do that, truthfully. But that’s just my opinion.

    thanks for the comment

  3. supermom Says:

    I think this guy is absolutely phenomenal. Just amazing.
    I agree though..the best? How do you compare?
    For ME the greatest athlete is Natalie du Toit. Again though, how do you compare?

  4. pacer521 Says:

    Yeah, he is amazing. Do doubt an amazing athlete, and in that special group above the rest, certainly. But again…its all an opinion. Du Toit was very, very good, and its was heartbreaking to watch her swim both disabled and abled. And in that same sense, Oscar Pistorius, the “blade runner” over in S. Africa also is very amazing. But in the same sense, anyone could call du toit, pistorius, and phelps cheaters because of their suits and prosthetics. But then again you could call Einstein a cheater because he had a huge brain…it goes in many directions and to decide this would be so hard that its just not worth it.


  5. bryan Says:

    How about this question? Was he even the most impressive performer in Beijing? I say that title goes to Usain Bolt.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: