Comments for en-gb 30 Thu 18 Dec 2014 05:26:52 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at polyharmonic The other point that keeps bearing in mind is that swimming has far too many events where the distances aren't different enough to require different types of skills or physiques resulting in the same people winning multiple events ALL THE TIME.The last person to win 100m/200m was Lewis in 1984. The ONLY person to win 200m/400m was Johnson in 1996.We only need to however to look back as far as 2004 to see many multiple gold medal winners:200m/400m Freestyle Gold: Ian Thorpe100m/200m Backstroke: Aaron Peirsol100m/200m Breaststroke: Kitajima100m/200m Butteryfly: Phelps100m/200m Medley: PhelpsSwimming simply has too many events that don't require skills and abilities that are very different from one another and thus leads to medal inflation. Fri 22 Aug 2008 22:37:46 GMT+1 end2endgame Flyboy84 - As a Sprinter I'm surprised you're making these comments about top athletes being abe to win 8 gold medals in as many days. I am also a runner ( not sprinter but long distance) and in case you hadn't noticed, running is a weight bearing sport whereas swimming is not. If Phelps tried to apply what he's achieved in swmming to running he simlpy wouldn't be abe to do it - not because he wouldn't be good enough (don't know what his runing is like? ) but becuse it is imposible to accomplish such a feat- your body would break down after day 4, and that's if you get that far. So to compare running with swimming is a non starter. Its better to compare swimmers with cyclists - but even this is fraught with complications. Anyway, am getting away from the title of this thread, but felt I needed to clear things up where comparisons between two sporting disciplines are concerned. Fri 22 Aug 2008 10:05:37 GMT+1 polyharmonic The fact of the matter is that medals from one sport or event is not equivalent to those in another sport. Therefore to compare athletes solely on the basis of gold medals or number of medals is rubbish. Put it another way, is a single gold medal by a swimmer equivalent to a single gold medal in decathlon? I think not!The point that Flyboy84 and others are missing isn't that Mark Phelps attained 8 golds, it is that in athletics it is not possible to even compete in 8 events competitively never mind winning them. With the wear and tear on the body long recovery times, there is no way that a track athlete could compete in 8 races. That is not to mention that the different athletic races are quite different from one another. A sprinter's body looks quite different from a middle distance runner to a marathoner.The same is the case in other events like rowing where no athlete could ever consider rowing in more than one event due to the near exhaustion. Phelps is perhaps one of the greatest SWIMMERS of all time. But to simply say he is the best Olympian of all time ON THE SOLE BASIS of his medal haul is ridiculous. Thu 21 Aug 2008 23:14:06 GMT+1 marksgilbert Can everyone just take a step back and remember the basic tenants of athletics? FACT: The winner of the decathlon is the best athlete in the world - he has speed, power, endurance, agility, versitility and must be hard as nails to survive their uniquely-brutal training regimen! Thu 21 Aug 2008 13:14:41 GMT+1 Flyboy84 Just to clarify to a few people comments about sprinters being able to do 8 events as i can see people are getting pretty hit up about it.I am not saying it would be easy for an athlete to do 8 events, i would near enough be impossible (for most), but i bet thats what people in swimming said before mark spitz won his 7 medals and if it wasnt for him, Michael phelps wouldt have gone for it. I also being a sprinter myself understsnd it is very tough for the demands of eight events with sch high intensity, but as said before, the 400m run is the same as a 100m swim, phelps coped ok with that. the arguement of the hurdles using different muscles groups is a rubbish one as any swimmer will know each stroke uses different muscle groups that they ahve to train. I just think athletics are taking the easy ruoute saying there is no way they could win that many medals. albeit she was on drungs but marion jones did 5 golds in sydney. I still beilive there could be someone in athletics to do that amzing feat. I understand training for sprints is hard and more pounding but you think trainign for a 100m, 200m and 400m swim is easy, i gurentee durign a hrd trainign phase phelps was in agony days at a time untill getting prepared and tapering for the big meet. Its all about whether you are willing to get up at 4am, then traina nother 2 times per day. But please do not think i am getting at athletics i love the sport just disagree with the idea there could never be a micheal phelps of athletics. Thu 21 Aug 2008 11:15:41 GMT+1 end2endgame Some people who've posted here seemed to have blurred the Greatest Olympian ever with the Greatest Sportsman/woman ever. The two are very different from eachother. Bradman, Woods, Schumacher - all greaTsporting heroes but since when were Golf and Cricket Olympic sports? since none of them ever competed at an Olympics and as the title of this thread is 'Best Olympian' and not 'Best Sportsman' ever their names shouldn't be being banded about on here. I'm not being pedantic - read the title thread! Wed 20 Aug 2008 22:00:29 GMT+1 madgroover "Why cant a sprinter do: 100m sprint110m hurdles200m sprint400m sprint400m hurdles4x100m relay4x400m relayLong jump"Never before in the field of sports commentary has so much ignorance been displayed in so few words.Consider Michael Johnson who is regarded as one of the supreme athletes of all time. He was the first person ever to win the 200m / 400m double. His 19.32 was so good in the 200m that the second best was 0.3 behind until today. The next 0.3 would cover the next 100 best - it was that good. Then he also won the 400m in a world record time. This combination regarded as almost impossible. And you want to add hurdling and long jump to that and short sprinting - total of 6 other events using totally different muscle groups as well as combination of pounding from the impacts produced by each??In essence, you have answered the question in the opposite way you expected, because the only 8 you can come up is so totally ridiculous that it is impossible. Whereas the fact that Spitz won 7 shows that 8 in swimming wasn't. This is to do with the fact that swimmers are supported by water as they swim, and don't subject their body to the pounding that runners do.Not to take anything away from Phelps wonderful achievement. The fact that he won 8 rather than 4 reflects the fact that swimming has too many similar events and that being a middle class sport limited to few countries at the moment doesn't have enough true competition. Wed 20 Aug 2008 17:08:41 GMT+1 boogieeck I was was driven to call Radio 5 when a caller described Alan Shearer as the greatest ever English striker and the correspondent dismissed him out of hand by naming Geoff Hurst. I felt the need to point out that Hurst was not even the best of his generation (Greaves) but a masterful manager read the game well enough to pick him over a better player. I pointed out that if Shearer was born Scottish (like me) he would still be the best British striker to play in the Premiership, but if Hurst was born Scottish you would not remember him. The point of all this? Team events. Relays. If Phelps was born Belgian, how many golds would he have? How would he rate? Now I dearly hope for Bolt and the great Asafa Powells sake that Jamaica win the relay. BTW, Greatest Of All Time remains Bradman. On the statistical measure of standard deviation from norm, ( % wins) Tiger may rival him, but lets face it, golf is not really a sport. Wed 20 Aug 2008 16:46:41 GMT+1 ssetumba Wilt Chamberlain is undoubtedly the greatest sportsman of all time. He excelled at a sport everyone of us plays- sex, by sleeping with 20,000 women as he claimed to run himself into American folklore. Now, someone beat that!! Wed 20 Aug 2008 15:45:09 GMT+1 end2endgame BTW in my opinion the 'Best Olympian ever' is Steve Redgrave. Why? Because he was at the top of his game for 16 here a parallel to this? the man was obsessed with being the best of the best, year after year until his body said enough. This is the mark of truly great olympian and a real sportsman in the truest sense. Wed 20 Aug 2008 15:30:27 GMT+1 mobaystretch bolt's performance has to rank as the greatest in the history of the olympics' sprint events. prior to tonight, johnson's record seemed untouchable. Wed 20 Aug 2008 15:29:29 GMT+1 alisopinion Oh by the way - Love Maradona!However he "his hand of god" won him a world cup which he even admits to with a smile when He and Gary Linneker reunited.Great athlete but a cheat too. Wed 20 Aug 2008 15:15:43 GMT+1 beefbeerandbaps 100m WR and 200m WR at the same olympics by a 21 year old - Unique !!!!This has never been done before and will never be done again !! NB even the former athletic GOAT Michael Johnson didnt think Bolt could get his 200m WR (probably the hardest existing athletics WR at the time) this time- around - truly Amazing!Phelps is not in the same postcode - Spitz done more or less same - many from relays for both and Thorpe wasnt far off recnelty - they come along every 10 - 15 years in swimming - as long as swim for US or Aus -Thorpe to Phelps was even shorter gap. Wed 20 Aug 2008 15:06:12 GMT+1 end2endgame I love the fact that Matt Slater goes and defeats the very object of the thread he started by declaring that Diego Maradona is the greatest sportsman of all time. I thought this thread was Olympian - not just Sportsman/woman. I don't know if Maradona competed in the Olympics but even if he did I don't think he got a gold with Argentina. If he did, winning one Gold hardly qualifies you to be eligible for 'Best Olympian ever'. Matt, if your'e talking about 'Best Sportsman' then the title of the thread needs to read 'Best Sportsman' not 'Best Olympian'. And no Maradona was NOT the greatest Sportsman of all time, that's btwn Lance Armstrong and Ali. Federer and Borg won more than Maradona as well. Best Footballer? easy: Pele. Then Cruyff then Best. Maradona? Top 5 Footballer but not even in Top 20 for best Sportsman/woman - let alone Olympian. Has that answered your question? Wed 20 Aug 2008 15:04:23 GMT+1 ladyactive8 I am scrolling my way through these hundreds of comments and am itching to say something!!I believe that the value of a world record should be held in the highest esteem. The fact that someone can go past the speed, weight, distance etc. of any man or women before them really does astound me. You begin to wonder if there is going to be a point where athletes just cannot perform any better, but we still havent reached that point. Winning a gold at the olympics is a competition between you and the other competitors on that day, you are only better than your opposition to win the medal. To gain a world record you must be the best....ever!If you compare the quality and difficulty of the gymnastics to where it was years ago it just shows how far athletics has improved. The fact that in the Men's Pommel Horse very few managed to stay on the horse as they struggled to keep momentum as the difficulty level was so high! With regards to Phelps winning his golds, you need to remember that it was not just him swimming when it came down to the relay section, it was a team effort, without them also performing at world class level, Phelps would not have those medals. Also he has done what no other athlete has done before by winning 8 golds, once again pushing past the boundaries of what was thought humanly possible.On another subject I believe that individual sporting heroes receive much higher praise than teams. For a start how does say a volleyball team get a world record?? Secondly you can see individuals that perform within a team, but without that team they would be nothing, you need every player to work together to make a winning product therefore the following praise is spread between all the competitors (although goalscorers do tend to receive more glory!!). All in all every sporting discipline requires specific skills and athletic attributes in order to be the best so you cannot compare sporting greats across any of them. Wed 20 Aug 2008 15:02:12 GMT+1 MikeFay Flyboy84 - I suspect the reason 100m sprinters don't train that often is that after doing explosive training, you need to give the muscles time to rest and rebuild - if you do weight training, it actually aches the most two days after. Endurance training needs repeating day after day, for much of the week. So a short, explosive event athlete may only train 2-3 times a week, while if you need endurance - and if your event lasts much more than ten seconds then you probably will - then you'll be training more often. Wed 20 Aug 2008 14:59:18 GMT+1 DJBoogie all bolt can do is sprint, pehlps has stamina over various distances Wed 20 Aug 2008 13:22:53 GMT+1 DJBoogie all bolt did was win a race and break a world record, a record that WILL eventually be beat.........I am pretty confident.....phelps record will never beat beatbolt is a fast runner........phelps is supermanbolt is the man of the moment (akin to maurice green etc), phelps is a legend Wed 20 Aug 2008 13:17:49 GMT+1 DJBoogie bolt= 1 gold medal (will prob be 2) and a world record. phelps 6 world golds last time, 8 golds this time, and umteen world recordsyou cannot even put bolt in the same room as phelps, hes NOWHERE NEAR his achievment.ask bolt to run 400m and 800m, and win a gold........then I might listen. Wed 20 Aug 2008 13:16:19 GMT+1 grooverblooter This post has been Removed Wed 20 Aug 2008 11:19:30 GMT+1 Flyboy84 I have spent the majority of the morning reading the above comments and feel alot of people have gone of the boil abit. this is a debate about whether Bolt of phelps should be hailed as athelete of beijing. First I would like to say i admire both men amzing achievments, i jumps in astonishment when i saw 9.69 from bolt and I stayed up till 4 in the morning to watch phelps win his eigth and stood up toa ppluad that amazing peice of history. Both fantastic.I dont see how we can compare the two sports and i dont see why people fo the athletics world are getting on the defensive saying we cant win that many medals, when marion jones won 5 in 2000, the swimming world didnt get on the defensive. For comemnt number 40 on this page i think 4 eents for an athlete to do is alittle poor if we are talking about a superstar multi eventing. lets review:Why cant a sprinter do: 100m sprint110m hurdles200m sprint400m sprint400m hurdles4x100m relay4x400m relayLong jumpObviousley this has to be programmes inhibited but phelsps did 8 events where he has to swim heats relays and finals for events ranging 100m which is roughly the same time as a 400m in track, 200m swims which is roughly the same as the 800m on the track and the 400m swims which is roughly the same as the 1500m on the track. Someone ike michaeal johnson who was suprime at the 200 and 400 could have done the 100 being 200mWR holder, he could ave done more training and pushed on the hurdles over the same distances and the long jump. The fact is athletics hasnt got anyone that diverse at this point in time and if they did are they willing to train like phelps has over the past decade to be fit and strong enought to BREAK world records and win 8 golds. Yes remeber BREAK world records he dint just win in average times he beat times other swimmers focusing on 1 or 2 events couldnt do. So for anyone in and out of the sport of athletics who say we couldnt win that many medals, I say i bet before spits and phelps swimming didnt think they could. It can be done in athletics, they just need someone that diverse and fantastic who is willing to work to the bone to win that many golds as has micael phelps in athletics. I take a quote frm mark lewis francis a few years ago stating he only trains twice a week for his 100m. if he trained all week specifically for 7-8 events who knows how good an athlete cold be if you are as talented as michael phelps.To the world of athletics why be so negative when this feat can be done...why not belive someone in that sport could do the same? Wed 20 Aug 2008 09:38:52 GMT+1 Sanfardo These articles do confuse me.The lead into the article from the homepage says-'Bolt v Phelps'We're then treated to a long article on the merits of Phelps, and asked who is the greatest of all-time.No harm done of course but, I've lost count of how many articles on the BBC site run with one headline, and then just chat away about something else, like a child struggling to keep on topic in their GCSE exam!! Wed 20 Aug 2008 07:40:48 GMT+1 mariesmc There is a bizarre fascination, it seems, for constantly deciding on "the greatest this," "the most awesome that." Can someone explain to me the point of it all unless, of course, you are genuinely comparing like with like? Perhaps we can just agree that both Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt are truly outstanding athletes, and leave it at that. No more apples and oranges, please. Wed 20 Aug 2008 06:22:25 GMT+1 kenroy124 to say that mikeal phrlps is the greatest olypion of all time is too much a strong statment. One aspect we have to take in mind is he did not earn those gold medals by him self he was help by his team mates and scieintifical out fit. I would like to say Mark spitz did greater than Phelps in my opinion considering cercomstanes and conditions there is no one I think can say he is not one of the greatest but the greatest is inapropreteKen llewellynbrooklyn New York Tue 19 Aug 2008 23:08:59 GMT+1 bozfarey Two possible candidates for the Greatest Of All Time?1) C.B. Fry, who played Cricket and Football for England, and held the World Long Jump Record for a while. Also played first class Rugby.2) William Grenfell (Lord Desborough), who won a silver medal for Fencing at the 1906 Games, and organised the 1908 Games, but also swam across the Niagara Rapids, rowed across the channel, climbed the Matterhorn. He was also president of the Oxford Athletic Club, Marylebone Cricket Club, Lawn Tennis Association and Amateur Wrestling Association. Also a good shot, but mostly of animals rather than targets. Tue 19 Aug 2008 21:21:16 GMT+1 notafscooby Still have seen a relevant view to this irrelavant dispute...Keep trying people. Tue 19 Aug 2008 19:56:26 GMT+1 friendlymrsflip re 324did bradman ever compete at the olympics????just a small point but he cannot therefore be a GOAT only a GAAT Tue 19 Aug 2008 19:31:52 GMT+1 peter2o6 @ 323 Marion Jones was caught because she used "the clear""The clear" was not tested for in a standard drugs test because of its lack of prominence. It as a relatively new drug in terms of athletic, fresh from the labs.What is the probablity that:1. Usain bolt has run the fastest time as a junior in 200m, first Junior to break the 20 sec. mark. (that's just one achievement).2. He's been touted by all his peers as "one for the future"3. Passed drugs tests4. there is a new drug on the market that hasn't been discovered for a standard drugs test, just before the olympics at a time when the world of Athletics knows that drugs could bury the sport.I think the probability is really small. And at the end of the day he is using. 5. In the improbable event that such a drug does exist, what are the chances of it being in the hands of the Jamiacans and no one else?The kid is clean. I will not be responding to responses questioning Bolts alledged drug consumption. Why is it that, for some, Usain Bolt is guilty until proven innocent (which will never be for some) but Michael Phelps is innocent until proven guilty, I mean endurance athletes are getting caught all the time - hence tour de farce (can anyone tell me who won it?) Tue 19 Aug 2008 19:27:42 GMT+1 alanskillcole Jamaica's proud Olympic record stretches back 60 years, but the seeds of Bolt's success were sown even further back. It was under British rule that Champs, a championship for the country's top high school runners, was founded in 1910. It has developed into Jamaica's biggest annual sporting event, attracting up to 2,000 athletes and daily sell-out crowds every year of 30,000. It is the tip of a competition pyramid that sees children across Jamaica start to take part in sprint races from the age of five. Wherever you find a piece of wasteland on the island you will inevitably see youngsters arranging impromptu races dreaming one day of making it to Champs.--------Anthony Davis, the sports director at Jamaica's University of Technology (UTECH), where Bolt, Powell and many other top athletes train on a grass track and in an unairconditioned weights room, started a scholarship scheme nearly 30 years ago that was designed to stop the top sprinters leaving for the US.-------------------It is understandable that people are cynical, but Michael Frater, who finished sixth in yesterday's final, in 9.97sec, has said any Jamaican who tested positive would not be able to remain there. 'The country's so small, if you take drugs, you would be embarrassed. In the States, it's big, so you can move around, but here, you can't move.' Tue 19 Aug 2008 17:42:37 GMT+1 alanskillcole I mentioned Jim Thorpe at about blog#88:-)-------------------------"Normally, most of the best Jamaicans are snatched up by the NCAA schools and run every weekend for the school to get points in meets," he said, noting the drop in Jamaican rivals in college meets. "It's like a sprint factory down there. Jamaica just keeps pumping them out."But now, the trend is for them to stay away from the riff-raff in the NCAA. At first, when Usain Bolt didn't want to take the offer to go to a U.S. college, the feeling was that he'd just be another sprinter who'd go away. But he hasn't gone away. That didn't happen." in this day and age that people believe that one group is intrinsically better at one sport than another.Is there some new theory just out of "Nature", "Scientific American" to support this?1. Years agoA few years ago, people thought as much in football...then when Viv Anderson came through and the WBA "3 degrees", that (sorta) changed.There was a time that long distance running wasn't dominated by Ethopians, Kenyans or North Africans. When did the supposedly "genetic" factor kick in?I was asked the same in chess (though not checkers - check Baba Sy). Look at the struggle of a Simutowe to get to areas to bring up his ELO rating.But, pre Anthony Miles, would a Soviet ask an Englishman why there were no English GMs? Would the former dare to say it was a race/gene thing? Then, Miles, Keene, Short, and on came through...weekend tournaments, Bundesliga, Spanish league...There's the same lack of emerging talent in US - just influx of those from former Soviet bloc. But that's not genes talking.Perhaps, it's what kids find interesting (US football, baseball, basketball).2. Societal reasons - necessityIn some societies, people run long distances as a necessity.Was it US athlete Steve Williams (contemporary of Jamaica's Don Quarrie) who made some joke that, in US, they run to get away from trouble?How many top class athletes from Jamaica are from rural areas incl. Ottey, Bolt, and others? There may be much work/training with Glen Mills etc, in capital, at the University of Technology, but, many are from rural areas.Again, there may be a microcosm of the wider thing of excelling as a necessity - city versus rural opportunities.3. Hunger - Gary Player's "The more I practise the luckier I get"...Like they say how many middle-class boxers do you see?4. What we are exposed toHow many people out of Jamaica swim? Not many.Is that genetics?Are there pools?If one had had an ability to swim, would it have been discovered if there was no pool?And how many schools have a swimming pool?The one at my school was non-functioning for much of my time there.Pools were more middle class. Just as rugby was at some schools.And, no, we all don't just wake up in the morning and see a clear blue sea...This is not moaning - it's just stating that it's not something with as much exposure. We don't blame genes for such an inability....nay, even an awareness of what we're missing...5. How far to stretch this genetics thing?If West Indians - Barbadians, Trinidadians, St. Lucians, Kittians, etc, etc, etc (not just Jamaicans) and if African Americans have this "gene" for sprints, did it derive from Black Africa?If so, should Black Africans also dominate at sprints? If not, why not?Should West Indians and African Americans dominate at long distances - much as Black Africans (though this argument discounts Aouitas, etc from North Africa) too?How is it that this "african gene" dominates in sprints in the West but not in long distances. And contrary in Africa?Does that not suggest an environmental slant to things?6.Resources and exposure to more sportsDavid Weller didn't have the facilities but managed to get an olympic cycling medal...there are road races back home..there are other sports but interest and resources are there are world class hurdlers and field eventers e.g.,long jump.20+ years ago, it was only track (Quarrie, Miller, etc).So, 20+ years ago, we could've said that we're only genetically good at track. But we didn't.(Great that Colombia's Montoya was exposed to racing: supposedly flew to US training and races in the back of a refrigerated flower cargo plane.)7. Who are the trailblazer? "I wanna be like him when I grow up"...Was it Bud Collins or another US commentator, the first year of Becker winning Wimbledon, who said that if Becker had been born in the US, he'd probably be a running back or some such in US football?Perhaps the buzz for tennis in Sweden after Borg - Jarryd, Wilander, Edberg - was more to do with kids seeing a trailblazer and following?Perhaps, kids grow up wanting to be the next Quarrie/Ottey? Or, the next Beenie Man?What if?Bolt also liked cricket. Could he have been like Michael Holding?Manley bemoaned lack of interest in cricket? The appeal (now) of basketball - kids go off on such scholarships to US...does the dominance of WesT Indian islands other than Jamaica in cricket mean much ? Or is it just a matter of the sport that interests one? That pays? Wasn't Lara was in the same class as Shaka Hislop in Trinidad?Would WI have baseballers rather than cricketers if there had been exposure to the former? Is a nation's slalom success down to genetics? There are jamaican tennis players that, if the facilities/sponsors were there, what they could've been? Perhaps they end up coaching in the resorts.(Are the European Serb, Russian and (soon with the coaching at home and in Australia) Chinese women better at tennis than the GB women?)It's shocking that success is seen as being just down to a pigeon hole of some "God?" given talent / some racial/ ethnic thing?It's, yes, talent, exposure to a range of sports from which one chooses, and staying healthy amongst other things but never thought of it as race / genetics.In a few years, when a new powerhouse nation emerges in sport X, hope it's not touted as genetics but as hard work, good coaching, talent, the "right place at right time" of being exposed to it/the hunger to get out of poverty. Tue 19 Aug 2008 17:27:24 GMT+1 boogieeck criteria for GOATdominance at his/her peak. Bolt, Phelps, Merckx, Bradman, the bookies stop taking bets even against the second best opponent. 10/10time at the top. Bolt, two months, Phelps/Hoy, 4 years, Merckx/Armstrong, 8 years, Woods 10 years, Bradman.....20 years. 10/10 to the DonStrength in depth of opposition. 100m dash, universal/global, football, the same, basketball,cricket freestyle sprint swimming, fairly global/universal. Bradman 9/10Social impact. Ali,Woods, Bradman. 10/10Athleticism /endurance required. Merckx/ Armstrong/Bolt/Phelps/Redgrave 10/10. Bradman, maybe 7/10. five days in the field under the Brisbane sun. GOAT is still Bradman Tue 19 Aug 2008 11:41:49 GMT+1 grooverblooter @ 318I am an avid track and field fan, but I am sorry to say the fact that the IOC is testing extensively means next to nothing. Marion Jones tested clean a reported 84 times with no failed tests between 1997 and 2004 - including her tests at the Sydney olympics. Yet we know she was using banned substances prior to, during, and subsequent to her olympic campaign. Athletes time their use in order to test clean, or continually use substances which are undetectable.The testing system is inadequate. Tue 19 Aug 2008 10:49:12 GMT+1 Matt Slater Nice to see this is still rumbling along, and with plenty of good stuff proposed from all angles.I can't really top Batson_d_Belfry's assessment (#321), well said.But let me just say a little bit more about my suggestion of Diego Maradona (to be honest, it could have been Ali, Jordan, Bradman, Woods, Jim Brown, Daley Thompson...depends which day you catch me on). I like Diego for a few reasons. First, he plays the most popular sport in the world....a sport that is played pretty much everywhere and by every section of society. To get to the top in football you've come through a very competitive field. Second, I like the all-round test that team sports, particularly ball sports, provide. Speed, strength, balance, co-ordination, heart, mental strength, timing, dexterity etc etc. And third, DM did it on his sport's biggest stage and he did it more than once. It isn't easy for an individual to really dominate a team sport, but he did in the World Cup (he played in four, should have played in five, dominated one completely and almost repeated the trick in the next one). He also made average teams good, good teams great: Boca, Argentina 86 and 90, Napoli. And this is the reason, for me, he is a greater footballer than Pele, who, I have to admit, I never got to see live, but have seen plenty of footage of and read plenty about too. It's clearly very close, though......Fifa gave them the player of the century award to share (although DM is rumoured to have won the public ballot).Does DM score any points for grace, sportmanship, behaviour away from sport??? No, of course he doesn't! I'll never forget how he broke my 13-year-old heart with his "hand of God" goal in '86....but I also can't forget what happened soon after, his goals against Belgium or his play throughout that tournament. I think he is a very reasonable shout for G.O.A.T...but there are plenty more! Tue 19 Aug 2008 08:20:26 GMT+1 Batson_D_Belfry I don't know that you can ever settle such a subjective debate as who is the greatest. All I can say is which of the two made the greatest impression on me.Phelps filled we with awe at the guy's power, stamina, mental strength and will to win. I thought at the time that this would be the story of the Olympics this year.But Bolt's run was what had me leaping out of my seat. It was sensational, thrilling and came in one of the most central events in all the Games. It was the best Olympic moment for me since Michael Johnson's 200m in Atlanta.While I'll remember the fact that Phelps won 8 golds for a long time, the image that I'll remember longest was Bolt's arms going out 10m from the line in celebration. Yes, he is a showman, but there was something inclusive in that gesture, inviting us in to take part in the sheer wonder at his abilities. Tue 19 Aug 2008 07:22:56 GMT+1 BenIsRight Greatness to me in sport; the difficulty of the sport, the obstacles overcome, the participation numbers of the sport, longevity, sportsmanship, role model element, style.Neither Phelps nor Bolt have matched all of these. What obstacles did he overcome? Was it his freak body that enables him to swim better, deeper and faster than anyone else before he has even had a training session? Lance Armstrong got his climbing body through having cancer if you can believe it. And role model? Phelps is a convicted criminal! And forget about Bolt, he has won one gold medal.Its difficult for an athlete to match all these. Before anyone would ask, "why role model", its because the term greatest is being branded about. No one questions why a gymnast doenst get a 10 just because they wobble a little. The greatest is a 10, not a 9.9. Tue 19 Aug 2008 00:16:24 GMT+1 Stop_it_Aggers Interesting that some people seem to think that rowing isn't a technical sport! It has it all - an "all-body" sport, one of the greatest cardiovascular demands, demanding individual technique, perfect teamwork and tactics. Sure, a bigger crew will beat a smaller crew of the same skill - but often you're pitching the rowing equivalent of Maradona up against Peter Crouch. An example that comes to mind is Cambridge's dominance of the Boat Race in the mid 90's - often they were up against bigger guys from Oxford, often with more foreign imports - but Cambridge would consistently beat them with some of the most beautiful rowing I've seen on the Tideway. Interesting to look at the stats - since the war, the heavier crew has beaten the lighter crew 32 times, compared to 31 victories by the lighter crew. To be honest I'm amazed at that - if only for the effects of the conditions which often favour the heavier crew. But it just goes to show that it's not just a case of throwing big guys in a boat and expecting them to win.I'll happily accept that track cycling has similar demands to 2000m rowing - in fact I think Romero has said that the demands of track cycling are more similar to rowing than to road cycling. Certainly those two and cross-country skiing seem to be the sports that demand greatest VO2max, and obviously have similar demands on your leg muscles. Just imagine if Romero had a go at skiing for the 2010 Winter Olympics.....! But I suspect that it is vastly easier to go from rowing to cycling than to go the other way round - and personally I think the uniqueness of Romero's achievement emphasises her specialness rather than the ordinariness of the sports.Incidentally - track sprinting is very much a "whole body" sport - that's why the 100m guys have such amazing upper-body development. Mon 18 Aug 2008 22:12:13 GMT+1 peter2o6 Whatever Jamaica's testing regime, the IOC have been extensively and independently testing athletes during these olympics. His performance to those in the athletics fraternity is not unbelievable as many of his counterparts have commented. He is clean and that could be the most phenomenal athletic feat I will ever witnness, here are 10 reasons why: 1. He is so confident at 212. He is 6'53. He's relaxed - taking naps and eating fast food before the race (we'll take his word)4. He showed up for the race acting as if it was a mid-season practice session. 5. Ran the race with his shirt untucked 6. There was no tail wind like the previous two record-setting races7. He celebrated 80% into the race8. Set a new world record9. He wasn't sure if he was going to compete in this event 2 weeks before (we'll take his word for it)10. Biggest stage and biggest performance, all the while making it look like he wasn't even trying. If that doesn't do it for you, you hate sports.If the kid doesn't win another race for the rest of his life, that performance was still legendary. Mon 18 Aug 2008 19:19:41 GMT+1 bamber I take it you've tried comedy too.....and found you weren't very good at that either!..............................................................Right back at you Einstein. Mon 18 Aug 2008 18:24:03 GMT+1 1welshbloke I take it you've tried comedy too.....and found you weren't very good at that either! Mon 18 Aug 2008 18:19:07 GMT+1 bamber To get to the top in any of those disciplines taken years of dedication.........but to get to the top if you switch does not............................................................I really couldn't say 'cos I've never ridden a funny bike on a funny track wearing a funny hat or tried rowing or sailing ....but I have tried running as fast as I can and swam up and down a pool.I'm pretty sure 99.9% of people are in the same boat (pun intended) as me :) Mon 18 Aug 2008 17:29:17 GMT+1 dangerdanaher Good point above, and if cycling is a lower body sport that is dominated by caucasions, why don't more caucasions do well on the track? i'm no anthropologist, but i would have thought running is a mainly lower body sport too? Mon 18 Aug 2008 16:48:24 GMT+1 1welshbloke But fearlessbamber - many sports are ripe for crossover - it does not make them any easier.Speed skating, cross country ski-ing and cyclingRowing and cyclingI've only given examples from my own sport.To get to the top in any of those disciplines taken years of dedication.........but to get to the top if you switch does not.Why? Cos the physical demands are to a point very similar. And generally speaking they are sports that do not require a great deal of "technical ability" - though riding in a bunch on the track as Romero did today is terrifying and does require a lot of skill. Mon 18 Aug 2008 16:48:12 GMT+1 1welshbloke Oh that is priceless - I missed that earlier.To think that I''ve been under the misapprehension that evolution has taken millions of years. Mon 18 Aug 2008 16:42:29 GMT+1 bamber Rio's Back Pocket said: "Also genetically caucasions are far better suited to cycling, it's a real power sport that uses your lower body, that develops through evolution and europeans have been cycling for decades and have a strong advantage."LOL - are suggesting that natural selection has favoured cycling Europeans over their non-cycling counterparts ? Either that or you subscribe to lamarck's theories on evolution.Listen very carefully:1. Your opinion is worth nothing. 2. You have no understanding of genetics, evolution or sociology. Mon 18 Aug 2008 16:30:51 GMT+1 bamber This is a no brainer. The men's 100m is THE EVENT in the Olympics. Almost all of us can relate to what it means to run 100m as fast as you can. To do it in 9.69 seconds will have children running across playgrounds across the world.Swimming is a poor relation but it is certainly more significant than these minority sports like sailing, rowing and cycling round some weird wooden bowl shaped track. That English woman who swapped from rowing to pursuit shows up these events for what they are. Mon 18 Aug 2008 16:04:31 GMT+1 Stop_it_Aggers You should try some of the events they had pre-WWI - in one a boat just dumped people in the middle of the Med and expected them to swim to land! They also had obstacle races and underwater races - Phelps seems to be trying to turn the normal races into one of the latter....For the London Games a "cross the Channel" event would be appropriate? Mon 18 Aug 2008 14:36:04 GMT+1 1welshbloke Totally Doc.I can see why they did it - I remember competing in the World Duathlon Championships prior to drafting being allowed- and a bunch of over 40 riders formed.It was like being in the bunch in cycling and come the run the better runners just ran away!The problem as I see it is that you have so many evenly matched people that drafting is almost inevitable.The solution for me would have been "cut down the number of people" - even 60 athletes could in theory be spread out over 2 mins with a 2 second gap in between. And are there actually 60 triathletes capable of winning gold? Mon 18 Aug 2008 14:35:22 GMT+1 KMBayes Different subject really welshbloke, but don't you think they ruined the trialthon when they allowed drafting at elite level? Mon 18 Aug 2008 14:26:42 GMT+1 KMBayes Different subject really welshbloke, but don't you thin kthey ruined the trialthon when they allowed drafting at elite level? Mon 18 Aug 2008 14:26:38 GMT+1 1welshbloke I must confess I do like the idea of having open water swimming - where people can swim in a pack and draft etc.I'd actually be all in favour of getting rid of backstroke and fly all together (but maybe leave one medley) and get rid of the 400 medley relay.And then use these freed up medals for some open water swimming with no lanes, although at differing distances than at the swimming wolrd champs. Mon 18 Aug 2008 14:24:05 GMT+1 Stop_it_Aggers It seems it didn't like 10 followed by the first letter of km. Mon 18 Aug 2008 14:20:53 GMT+1 Stop_it_Aggers Grr - the filter just hates the idea of my attempt to say that there should be 10000m, 1500m, 100m x 5 and 25m. Mon 18 Aug 2008 14:19:22 GMT+1 Stop_it_Aggers 25m would make for a genuine fast-twitch sprint - and do it from a floating start to take out the effect of dives and turns. I'd also ban suits from legs and arms.I'm tending towards Teofilo Stevenson as the greatest ever Olympian - Ali was a greater overall boxer, but only did one Olympics before taking the money. Stevenson preferred "the love of 8 million Cubans" to the love of millions of dollars and continued to support the Games. Ali gets much Olympic kudos for providing _the_ moment of the Atlanta Games, but rather loses it by throwing away his Olympic medal. "Greatness" has to include the stuff away from the track/piste/pitch.Greatest Olympic team of all time - Hungarian sabre team 1932-60. Mon 18 Aug 2008 14:17:37 GMT+1 1welshbloke yea - oops - the order is irrelevent.50/100 is the same as 100/50.School hols - must brush up up my stats before teaching S1 and S2!Hee hee. Mon 18 Aug 2008 14:14:18 GMT+1 Stop_it_Aggers I'd agree with the basic premise that there's too many swimming events, and that even the ones we have are too similar in their demands - multiply swim distance by 4 to get approximate track equivalents, so most of them are in that 400m/800m "fast endurance" range. (sorry, having filter problems) Mon 18 Aug 2008 14:10:46 GMT+1 Stop_it_Aggers People might want to read these responses to a recent blog by Tom Fordyce, which saw many of the same debates, but more in terms of just "the greatest Olympian" (which is hard to enough to call) : to compare this article, which compares Phelps' multiple medals in one or two Olympics, to a single glorious performance by Bolt. Tom's article was more about comparing Phelps and Spitz's supremacy at a single Olympics compared to the people who do it Olympiad after Olympiad. It's impossible to say what weight you should put on one over another.But until a few days ago, one could argue that Phelps wasn't even the best swimmer in _this_ Olympics. Grant Hackett might well have got a medal at Atlanta had he gone, but then he was unbeaten in his event for 10 years. 10 years. Shame he only got silver this time, but his is a truly awesome record. Unfortunately he only has one medal to win - there's no 1500m relay/medley/breast/back/fly. Mon 18 Aug 2008 14:03:24 GMT+1 KMBayes I agree it's easier but in general I'd say the plausible combinations in swimming are50/100 freestyle.100/200 within a single stroke (except freestyle)200/400IM 400/400 freestyle400 1500 freestyle or 400/800 for women100 free/100 butterfly just for women.are all realistic, 7 for men and 8 for women.slap on the wrist for confusing your combs and perms .... Mon 18 Aug 2008 13:57:59 GMT+1 terriblebore86 re 292yes, I agree with all of what you say. But Phelps does not swim 400s, he swims one 400 - the im and this is what makes the achievement incomparable to the 400 - 1500 you suggest - the 4 different stokes may make it possible. I hope Phelps does swim the 400 free in addition to a 100 event- if he did it would certainly be an achievement greater than any track star, but until then the comparison you draw is unfair as nothing on a track compares to the im - at any distance. re your comment on looking at sizes / physiques - watch the 100m final again ... bolt is so much taller than everyone else - almost like a 400m runner. a guy that tall shouldn't be able to compete. Mon 18 Aug 2008 13:53:31 GMT+1 1welshbloke Actually that was badly worded....not easier - more likely.Winning a medal is never easy. Mon 18 Aug 2008 13:49:22 GMT+1 1welshbloke Yes Doc - quite deliberately in the same way I missed out the IM in the 200 combinations.I've tried to make it nice and simple and look at realistic multiple medal opportunities.If I added in the ones you suggested I might get another 8 in athletics.If I added in the 200 IM to the 200 free fly back br I'd also get another 8 combos.My contention is that it is easier to win multiple medals in swimming. Do you not agree? If not, why not. Mon 18 Aug 2008 13:39:50 GMT+1 The Rhymenoceros With A Mic In His Hand Fabulousreds your quite simply being an idiotGenetically afro caribeans are quicker than any other ethnic group, you can try arguing against it but the fact that fastest a caucasion has run the 100m is about 10:10 whereas there are a countless number of black athletes who have gone under 10 seconds.Secondly you asked when was the last time an athlete from western africa made the final, I don't know the answer but you look at the countries who are represented in the final and you'll notice they are all athletics heavy weights. America and the Caribean nations put a lot of money into developing their young runners.Also genetically caucasions are far better suited to cycling, it's a real power sport that uses your lower body, that develops through evolution and europeans have been cycling for decades and have a strong advantage. Mon 18 Aug 2008 13:32:22 GMT+1 KMBayes 1welshbloke,You missed out the chucking events and the long/triple jump combo! I agree, many are unrealistic because your joints would pack up with the strains but I think some altheltes are capable of moving between events. Mon 18 Aug 2008 13:23:08 GMT+1 KMBayes I'll stand by my comments regarding post 278. It was not intended to be a comment related to medal opportunities. I'm simply trying to make the point that a runner could not hope to be competative over distances of 400-1500 metres since the physiques of athletes at the two extremes of this scale are very different. The same goes for swimming, should you watch a reply of the 100 metres butterfly, have a look at the physique of the guy in lane 4, next to Phelps and you'll see he's a man mountain who trains specifically for shorter events. A guy who swims 400's, should not be able to compete. Thats why the guy is so special.The data will soon be available for your comparison though terriblebore, he's got bored of his current programme and will be swimming different events, most likely including the 400 free. He's so much better than Spitz ever was, it's far more competative era now and Spitz never had semi-finals in his era. Mon 18 Aug 2008 13:20:08 GMT+1 1welshbloke Ooops - apology - of course I've seen the post about injuries.I don't have the time to do so now but yes I would think more swimmers do double up.But then they have more chances to do that too.50/100 free100/200 free/fly/back/breast200/400 free/IM100 pick any two from free/fly/back/breast200 pick any two from free/fly back/breastThats a lot of permutations across the events isn't it? And I've missed out a few too. (I'll admit you don't normally combine breaststroke with another stroke although the medley is an opportunity) - And of course i have missed out the relays.So 17 disciplines and 32 permutations (granted 20 is you take out the breaststroke permuation with another stroke).Realistically there are nothing like that many permutations in athletics.100/200200/400400/800800/15001500/50005000/10000100/long jump100/110h400/400h1500/3000sc3000sc/5000(Some of the above are a little unrealistic in my opinion).So 22 disciplines (I've not split up into men/women), 11 permutations. Mon 18 Aug 2008 13:17:42 GMT+1 terriblebore86 re 278As you point out, Phelps' races last between 47.51 secs (100 free relay split) and 4:03.84 (400 im) However never does he do more than 200m in any 1 stroke meaning that different muscle groups are tested to different degrees. In particular, in the 400 im this allows slightly different stresses to be used - which distinguishes it from the 1500m where the same muscle groups are being used. he is only doing one stroke for a max of 1:52.03 in any one race and in multiple races for just over a minute (sorry don't have 400 im splits) The point being that even an analysis based on timing is unable to take the use of different muscle groups into account and that although it might seem that the rough ration of 4 to 1 for max to min distance / time which Phelps achieves is not a direct comparison. to relate this to Bolt a similar relation would hold if he wished to break the 400 wr (43.18) but this is only one muscle group and would be a much greater achievement than Phelps' differing distances and is (i think) an unrealistic requirement for a great sprinter. So we could expect him as a sprinter to enter 3. Phelps could be expected to enter 7 and maybe 8 (400 im as the maybe). But an analysis of how hard this event is for a 100-200m swimmer is difficult without specific scientific data about the degree of fatigue produced by each stoke and its effect on others. in the GOAT debate. my point is that Phelps is amazing, but is so close to Spitz (who raced in such similar events) that it is not clear how much the 400 im adds to his record and that his versatility could be at least in part a product of his events and not just his supreme ability Mon 18 Aug 2008 13:10:29 GMT+1 1welshbloke Damn - missed the last bit off which isYou surely cannot disagree that more swimmers win mulitple golds than other sports? (Let's not go back more than a few years please - as far back as 1972 maybe but you know back in the 1950s there were only 11 swimming events compared to the 34 now). Mon 18 Aug 2008 13:02:28 GMT+1 Mclumpher Usain Bolt is the fastest man ever, fact!Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer ever, fact!Tiger woods is the best golfer in the world, fact!Chris Hoy is the fastest cyclist in the world, fact!They are what they are! Mon 18 Aug 2008 13:00:10 GMT+1 1welshbloke Ah so on that basis I'm assuming Doc that you're saying that athletics is more competitive than swimming because "an awful lot of countries have no hope in hell".The argument about swimmers rarely picking up injuries? I haven't seen that post so I can't comment on it.And the only time I looked at percentages was a tongue in cheek post about Eddy Merckx after someone claimed Bradman was the greatest because his test average has 50% higher than the next person.Anyway onto the crux of the argument here.Let's start with my hypotheses.If you are at the top of your sport it is easier to win more than one gold in swimming that in other sports. So tell me exactly what is wrong in the figures I have looked at, save for the sample size?What exactly is wrong in quoting the number of multiple gold medallists per games in swimming versus the number in athletics? Remember swimming has fewer events than what is it that skews the figures?Is it the number of events swum?Is it that if you win say the 100m in swimming your are more likely to win the 200m as well than the equivalent in athletics?Is it because the competition is weaker?Or none of the above?I mean this isn't meant to be an in depth analysis - its meant to beg the questions WHY DO MORE SWIMMERS WIN MULTIPLE GOLDS.......and then possibly "SHOULD SWIMMERS HAVE MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO WIN MULTIPLE GOLDS" Mon 18 Aug 2008 12:55:59 GMT+1 KMBayes 1welshblokeI suggest you take a look a the map of africa. There's an awful lot of countries (South Africa aside) that have no hope in hell of winning a swimming medal. Ever.As for your comparison. Inititially, you compared thirteen multiple gold medalists in swimming with an average of four in althletics. After removing relays this is a comparison of 6 with 2. I didn't go looking into the figures, which you clearly have, but my initial arguement was that this difference can be attributed to swimmers rarely picking up injuries compared with athletes. Looking at percentages just skews the comparison, and you should know better. Mon 18 Aug 2008 12:36:47 GMT+1 REzLad The debate has entered new territory and now we are looking for the greatest statistician of all time. Incidentally, Sir Ronald Fisher gets my vote ;-)Anyway.... Post 266. CB Fry was indeed a very talented individual but would only win if we were looking for most privileged upbringing I suspect.I'm not sure you can compare an 1893 long jump world record with one today. I suppose in fairness he would probbaly have excelled in the modern era given his all round abilities but I would suggest that the vastly increased competition would severely restrict his efforts if he attempted the same a century later. Mon 18 Aug 2008 12:35:45 GMT+1 1welshbloke You are joking surely!No-one is saying it is easier to win a single gold - but if you have the ability to win a single gold in swimming (or a single medal for that matter) you have better chances of winning multiple medals than in any other sport save for gymnastics.And the statistics bear this out. Mon 18 Aug 2008 12:31:17 GMT+1 Mclumpher Those of you that say it's easier to win a gold in swimming than athletics are just talking non-sense. There are 6 billion people int he world and each and every one could enter the 100 metre sprint if they were good enough. Those same people could enter the 400 IM if they were good enough. So in any event you have to be better than the other 6 billion people. So the odds of winning a swimming race 6,000,000,000 to 1 are the same as any athletics event. Mon 18 Aug 2008 12:28:05 GMT+1 1welshbloke Oh and and for you telling terriblebore it was the wrong comparison to make.Actually his comparison had nothing to do with the physiological requirements for an event but to do with the fact that a swimmer has more medal opportunities at his disposal given a specialism at certain distances.If the 200m/400m is one ou wish to compare to 800m/1500m then good. Cos of course the 200m/400m swimmer has the 4x200m relay at his disposal whereas the 800m/1500m athlete has not. Ergo....more medal opportunites!I notice you are a swimmer. I'll admit I'm not. But neither am I an athlete.I used to do triathlon, though my best discipline was cycling. I'm not anti swimming - just anti the RELATIVE ease in which to win multiple medals. Mon 18 Aug 2008 12:24:47 GMT+1 1welshbloke Of course you are - you're ability to show how wrong my figures are is a clear stand out isn't it.I have countered your arguments and your clearly academic response is "I am better that you"PMSL this time. Mon 18 Aug 2008 12:10:19 GMT+1 KMBayes 1welshbloke,I'm also a professional statistican and clearly better at it than you. Mon 18 Aug 2008 12:06:14 GMT+1 1welshbloke Incidentally doc - my previous analyis whcih included relays found 13 multiple gold in swimming versus 4 in athletics - i.e. just over 3 times as manyremoving the relays is just under 6 on average in swimming verus 2 on average in athletics.So I agree you with you the imbalance is not as great.It moves from just over 3 to just under 3!!!!!LMAO Mon 18 Aug 2008 12:05:40 GMT+1 KMBayes terriblebore86,It's the wrong comparison to make. Rather than compare the distances you should be comparing the length of time a race lasts since this relates to the energy systems required.The shortest race in Phelps programme lasts around 50 seconds - I'd compare this with a 400m hurdles (I'd compare the 100m freestyle with the 400m flat - Phelps did not race this event but he's the third fastest ever). The 200m and 400metre events can be compared with the 800m and 1500m. Mon 18 Aug 2008 12:05:00 GMT+1 1welshbloke Doc_kev wrote:"You seem to like quoting statistics but you obviously don't have the expertise to analyse them so I'll help you out."-----------------------------------I am a mathematician and statistician.And as for your physiology comments "Just as althletes of african origin are advantaged in running, they are disadvantaged in swimming."Back it up with facts and figures. And if they are advantaged in running then how does that help your argument? Cos by the same token athletes of non african origian are therefore advantaged in swimming!And as for "True, but if you take the relays out, which do skew things somewhat, and look at individuals performances, you will find the imbalance is not as great. "Ok I will:Last three Olympics 2000, 2000 and 1996Double gold in athletics 2, 1 and 3 - TOTAL 6Double gold in swimming 5, 7 and 5 - TOTAL 17Good grief - three times as many from 3/4 of the events. Mon 18 Aug 2008 11:59:08 GMT+1 Stafford3 PS - while it was an excellent spectacle and an emphatic victory in a very popular event - Bolt is nowhere on this chart other than crushing the field in one race and setting a world record which apparently happens in swimming quite regularly. Is anyone else quite irritated by him not running full-tilt for the whole race - would have loved to see what he could achieve in terms of record time, but apprently it's to do with future endorsments and earnings... Mon 18 Aug 2008 11:59:07 GMT+1 terriblebore86 In finals alone Phelps swam:100m x 3200m x 4400m x 1and by stroke and distance per race50m fly x 150m free x 150m back x 150m breast x 1100m fly x 3100m free x 2100m back x 1100m breast x 1200m fly x 1200m free x 2therefore totals550m fly650m free150m back150m breast... i think these are correctFirst of all this is a fantastic achievement and is undoubtably worthy of 8 olympic gold medals and this should not be forgotten.However this is an achievement which is not possible in athletics: why?if you look purely at the distance of the individual races, 7 out of 8 were of 100 and 200m. There are 3 races of this length for a sprinter.3 out of 8 of these races are relays, (and Phelps is in one of two dominant swimming nations who could possibly have won even without him)There is also another important feature of Phelps which has not been discussed. A large part of Phelps' success is his fly leg kick; which assists him massively in races with components of fly and free - which every race he takes part in has. This is a fair advantage, but one which is only possible in a discipline such as swimming where many of the strokes are have connections. Put simply, I applaud Phelps for his achievement, but it must be compared to what can be accomplished. For example, if phelps had been born in Togo not the USA he would have 5 golds and this would not discount his achievement. A sprinter must look to win the 100, 200 and 100 relay. This is what they 'can' achieve. Similarly, a swimmer 'can' achieve much more - as shown by the preponderance of swimmers at the top of the individual medals list. Although terms such as greatest athlete / olympian are hugely crass and generally useless we must look to over achievers such as Ovens, in the olympics or Bradman in a wider field, as their achievements stand alone in their respective disciplines, and their conduct and contribution to their own sport and to sport in general in over and above anything which could be expected. If Bolt achieves his 200 and 100 relay he can be thought of as on a par with Phelps, but neither of these have done what is necessary to be the greatest of all time ... yet Mon 18 Aug 2008 11:53:52 GMT+1 kingsircarl HiTo solve this issue i would pick out the relevant sports such as athletics ect disregardind the so called class sports such as eventing as they are so limited in who can compete in them for various reasonsStep 2 Pick out the greatest competeter in that sport (no easy feat )step 3 Make a short list of say ten championsstep 4 Let the arguaments begin....and Zatopeck wins Mon 18 Aug 2008 11:45:59 GMT+1 Stafford3 Post 271 - I have to admit complete ignorance in the world of cycling - I have head of Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France and that's about it. Which is the bigger sport globally? I think golf but maybe I'm wrong? I also think more people have heard of Woods than of Merckx and as a result their earnings due to sport are not comparable. These have to be taken into consideration - not just performance but profile too no? Mon 18 Aug 2008 11:35:56 GMT+1 KMBayes In reply to 1welshbloke:You seem to like quoting statistics but you obviously don't have the expertise to analyse them so I'll help you out.1. Swimming has many more multiple gold medalists than athletics. True, but if you take the relays out, which do skew things somewhat, and look at individuals performances, you will find the imbalance is not as great. Even so, more swimmers than althletes are able to double up based on individual events. This is related to training, swimming is not so stressful on the joints and a swimmers season is not typically interupted by injuries.2. The swimming medals are distributed across fewer nations.Fairly simple this one, it comes down to basic physiology. Just as althletes of african origin are advantaged in running, they are disadvantaged in swimming. Mon 18 Aug 2008 11:28:06 GMT+1 1welshbloke Post 270 - great post.But Woods? Surely not.Merckx! Nobody even comes close in the field of cycling. Mon 18 Aug 2008 11:19:01 GMT+1 Stafford3 I haven't managed to read all the comments on this topic, but I always like a good comparison debate like this - I believe they're interesting and relevant, and always lead to fevered discussion, largely because there is no right answer, no objective framework in which to compare apples with oranges. And so as someone mentioned earlier, the arguments are always so subjective and obviously biased.In my opinion some of the choices for the accolade of greatest sportsmen WITHIN their field are fairly obvious: PhelpsBolt / Michael JohnsonHaile GebreselassieTiger Woods / Jack NicklausBjorg / Martina Navaratilova / Sampras / FedererGretzkyjust to name a fewTeam sports are harder of course - you have different positions or disciplines within the pursuit, but I would argue Pele in football typically wins it, and the ever-lasting Sir Donald Bradman in cricket (with Shane Warne a distant second). Michael Jordan in basketball?So how do you decide who's the best of the best?I would argue you have to take into account a few things:-1) how big is the sport in question2) how dominant is that athlete within his sport compared to others within theirs, and how long are they dominant for3) what kind of records are they setting, and how long are these records lasting?4) what is the impact on that sport from his / her achievementsSo Phelps clearly scores big on 2, and possibly on 3 and 4 but maybe not so much on 1.Bolt right now is dominant, but for how long? I am a huge Michael Johnson fan, and his records are standing the test of time - though maybe in the 200m not for much longer?Sir Donald Bradman's record is simply immense. Most sports have changed so much in the modern era that old records are distant memories, and yet it's quite possible that, even without body armour and helmets, with worse pitches and still rapid bowlers, his record may survive forever. And as someone mentioned before, statistically it is unparalelled - noone in any mainstream sport has been so many standard deviations better than the average of that sport. But I would argue still that Woods is head and shoulders above the rest. He doesn't yet have all the records but if he achieves them, I'm fairly sure they will last for decades. He is so completely dominant within his sport currently that only Bradman really stands ahead of him (and that's on results only, not necessarily profile). I suppose though until recently there was much chat about Federer being as dominant, and we'll see if he can return to the top. However it's not just about results, but profile too and whether we like it or not, money tends to be a fairly efficient measure of these sorts of things, and that's another way in which Woods dominates his profession like no other. Advertisers simply want to pay him more than anyone else, because he is the biggest sportsman in the world and gets more air-time than anyone else (including all the rest of the golfing community put together). I'd contend that any sports equipment / clothing manufacturer would rather have Woods in it's stable than any other athlete, and if they made clothes for some other sport, they'd open a whole new golf range if they could bag Woods (rather like Nike did). On the various measures of greatness, I reckon he is top or near the top on just about all of them - certainly in the four mentioned above (not least because in this humble writer's opinion golf is an extremely hard sport to master requiring vast technical proficiency, mental strength, power interspersed with finesse etc etc). Love it or hate it, golf is huge, and that's in part due to Woods himself, his profile is so massive, his impact on his sport (number 4) is simply extraordinary.So maybe if you are going to compare these sporting apples and oranges, you have to look at the extent to which that the athelete dominates his own particular sport, and then, whether or not you agree with it personally, the extent to which one sport dominates another. Woods wins Mon 18 Aug 2008 11:13:22 GMT+1 amat124 Concur with dudepod45 comments. What an utterly pointless waste of webspace this 'debate' is. Matt S, go do what the BBC pay you to do...whatever the heck that is ?!?! Mon 18 Aug 2008 11:06:48 GMT+1 KMBayes Matt, I agree that watching a guy demolish his opposition in the 100m with a new worldworld record, all whilst celebrating before reaching the line is memorable. It was almost like watching a repeat of the 1988 Olympic final. Mon 18 Aug 2008 11:06:27 GMT+1 Michael Pointless trying to compare them both. There will never be a definitive answer.However some of the comments here against Phelps and swimming in general are incredibly naive and ignorant.I'd rather sit back, watch and appreciate two great sportsmen rather than argue an unwinable argument.I'm afraid reading this blog does nothing to dispel what the Aussies say about the British. The glass does seem to be half empty in this country. Mon 18 Aug 2008 10:58:30 GMT+1 Oskar_the_dog The greatest ever? There's only one guy who really stands out, and he was an Englishman ... CB Fry.Who? I hear you say...Charles Burgess Fry had the looks of a Greek god and often performed like one. He possessed an array of talents that have never been equalled and his sporting achievements left a whole generation awestruck and idolatrous. He played football for England, opened the batting for England at cricket, and would have played rugby for England as well but for his football commitments. He was also the finest English track and field athlete of his day, holder of the world long jump record and would probably have won both Olympic sprints had he not been too busy elsewhere to find time to go!In his spare time Fry achieved first-class honours in Latin and Greek at Oxford, was a gifted writer who became a fine journalist. He also represented England at The League of Nations, commanded a naval training school, stood for parliament three times and, believe it or not, was once offered the throne of Albania!Perhaps if they'd had Spice Girls back then he might have married them all and be better known today... Mon 18 Aug 2008 10:54:38 GMT+1 hamhoi Just to clairify a comment made by (aliswimmingspurs ) earlier. Usain Bolt was trained in Jamaica by Jamaican coaches. He along with Asafa Powell are a new breed of Jamaican athlethes who are furthering their education locally and are being guided by a a group of quality coaches some of whom are past olympians.In the past US Colleges and Universities sent scouts down to the Jamaican High School national championships and offered scholarships to the outstanding athlethes. Thereafter most of their coaching then took place in the U.SThe fact that Bolt is a home grown, and hom coached talent makes his achievement so much more special and is indicative of the quality of coaching available localy. Mon 18 Aug 2008 10:35:24 GMT+1 1welshbloke Multipease - whilst not defending some of the comments, your views that you have to have swum butterfly etc isn't exactly condusive to debate is it?A lot of people on here are not bashing swimming per se - but bashing the RELATIVE ease with which swimming gets multi-medallists when compared to other sports.I know how difficult it is to swim fly - when doing triathlon we often did other strokes other than free in training. But I have no experience of competitive swimming nor indeed have I ever done more than a length of fly. But I still feel I am entitled to my views that based on the statistics available a double gold in swimming is CHEAP when compared to a double gold in athletics. Why? Because with fewer events in swimming you get 3 times the number of double gold medallists in athletics. Mon 18 Aug 2008 10:27:29 GMT+1 mulltipease 254. At 09:52am on 18 Aug 2008, Bigligfc wrote:219. At 11:22pm on 17 Aug 2008, mulltipease wrote:It is very easy for a couch potato to criticise the amount of medals available in swimming, but until you have mastered all 4 strokes I am afraid your opinion is worthless.--------------------------------------------------------To call anyones opinion worthless simply because it doesn't agree with yours or doesn't have 100% first hand experience is as offensive as it is patronising and has no place in what is supposed to be an informed debate.It is exactly what it says it is, an opinion.Apparently in a democracy every body has the right to their own opinion, or is there a statute tucked away somewhere that everyone else missed that states "everyone is entitled to their own opinion so long as it doesn't go against anything Multipease says"Well, in my view, your opinion is offensive, however, it is YOUR opinion, which you have every right to express--------------------------------------------------------Everyone IS entitled to their own opinion, I never said they weren't, but some opinions are worth more than others. I am sorry Bigligfc if the truth hurts. I find ignorance offensive in the same way you found my opinion offensive. I just hate it when people pretend to know something when really they don't, which seems to be the case with most of the posts on this forum bashing swimming.If you are going to comment on this forum you have to be ready for it to be scrutinised. Go ahead and disagree with me, I might even change my viewpoint if you have a good argument. Mon 18 Aug 2008 10:15:50 GMT+1 IHaveaDream This post has been Removed Mon 18 Aug 2008 10:08:01 GMT+1 RubberNutz This is stupid. Who authorises this drivel to be written and/or published? Mon 18 Aug 2008 09:46:14 GMT+1 trevrut Whilst you have to credit Bolt for his victory and, NOT selling himself off to represent other nations like many others, I applaud his achievements and Nationalism.......However it was just one event.The plaudits in this 'mis-matched' pair up must go to Michael Phelps because it takes a lot of endurance to win 8 gold medals in 8 days!! Well done to BOTH but in this event I'm affraid it's a 'Ninth' Gold for Phelps Mon 18 Aug 2008 09:19:27 GMT+1 U9563463 'In the end. however, we all must face the fact that the G.O.A.T. is merely a departure point for discussion, there is not nor ever will be a definitive answer.'You as an American should know better than that! There is a definitive answer, your compatriot - HULK HOGAN, he is the GOAT! Mon 18 Aug 2008 09:04:40 GMT+1 Bell_4_Goalie Michael Phelps - Not Even Greatest Olympian at 27th OlympiadWhat MP has achieved is clearly exceptional, and he is a a great Olympian. However, thera re others at Bejing who's achievements are, arguably, even better. Within just the British team there is Ben Ainslie who has just won Gold in the sailing. He adds this to the silver and two golds he has already won. Medalling across four Games (a 12 year time span) is a remarkable achievement. By contrast Phelps has only been at the top f his game for four years. Then there is Rebecca Romero - gold in the cycling (with the possibility of another) to add to silver in the rowing four years ago. Medals across two fundamentally different sports! Astonishing, and truly the sign of a great athlete. Chris Hoy is likely to win three golds at these Games to add to his tally at Athens - a 100% strike rate the same as Phelps. Then, of course, there is Usain Bolt. A sensational performance in what is traditionally the blue riband event of the Games, with the promise of more to come in his favoured event, the 200m. Could he break Michael Johson's amazing world record time of 19.332 seconds? For the first time ever, it seems possible. Goodness only knows what other amazing feats have been achieved by competitors from other nations, I'm sure there are many, many more tales of heroism and true Olympic spirit. Mon 18 Aug 2008 09:01:03 GMT+1 joekonn Thought you Brits had longer memories than us Yanks, but no one mentioned Jim Thorpe. Won both the Pentathalon and the Decathalon in one Olympics (won 8 of the 15 events), played professional football (American), basketball and baseball and was a champion ballroom dancer. He was a magnificent athlete. And boy, did he know how to treat royalty. When King Gustav of Sweden told him, "You are the greatest athlete of all time", Jim replied, " Thanks, King!". (Why you're just another fan!)Being great in one sport is, in my opinion, not nearly so rare as being great in 4 or five sports that require different skill sets.In the end. however, we all must face the fact that the G.O.A.T. is merely a departure point for discussion, there is not nor ever will be a definitive answer. Mon 18 Aug 2008 08:56:41 GMT+1 U9563463 Hulk Hogan vs. PhelpsHogan could probably give Phelps a close race in most events and would beat him in the fly.Phelps would get annihilated in the ring by the female wrestlers let alone the male ones. Hogan would have a field day against Phelps in the ring. Mon 18 Aug 2008 08:55:35 GMT+1 1welshbloke #253 "Michael Phelps could complete 100m, 200m and the long jump and get within a few seconds or metre of the world record.Why? because running and jumping is relatively easy to butterfly."---------------------------------------------------- what complete and utter nonsense!The plains facts are that medal winning swimmers win more medals than in any other Olympic sport.It is about time the IOC did something about this. If in your own World Championships you want to have multiple medal winning opportunities then feel free to do.But in the Olympic Games the achievement of a single gold once every four years is something even the most elite athletes achieve maybe once or twice.Look at the current individual medal table - there are FOURTEEN double gold medallists in swimming. I think over the past few games the average is thirteen. In athletics it average four double gold medallists a games despite that being a greater number of events!!!It is FARCICAL that a single sport, swimming dishes out medals in this way. Mon 18 Aug 2008 08:54:08 GMT+1